Criminal charges of drug trafficking result in more severe penalties and prison sentences than drug possession charges. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania will likely charge you with drug trafficking if police attributed large quantities of drugs to you. Authorities will assume that you intended to sell the drugs due to the quantity that you allegedly had in your possession. If police seized from you what they viewed as a large amount of cash, then prosecutors will consider that to be additional evidence that you were acting as a drug dealer.

Strong federal and state penalties

Federal criminal codes apply to people accused of drug trafficking. Laws passed by the U.S. Congress categorize drug trafficking as a felony. Sentencing guidelines require lengthy prison sentences starting at about three years and ranging upward to life. Generally, larger quantities of drugs result in harsher penalties. You could face additional prison time if authorities have evidence that your activities resulted in bodily harm, involved children or included a firearm.

State criminal codes mirror federal laws about drug trafficking, although prison sentences tend to be shorter. Your case might involve state charges if the drug quantities were not significant enough to activate federal prosecution, and your alleged actions did not cross state lines.

Controlled substances subject to drug trafficking charges

You may already know that federal laws label methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine and marijuana as illegal controlled substances. However, prescription medications, although manufactured lawfully, are considered to be controlled substances as well. If you stand accused of selling prescription drugs, such as Adderall or painkillers like hydrocodone, then the law views that as illegal distribution.

The importance of legal advice

Authorities might accuse you of drug trafficking if they believe that you took part in the importation, transportation or sale of controlled substances. When confronted by such a situation, you have the right to independent legal advice. A criminal defense attorney might evaluate your drug charge from the angle of defending you from prosecution. Without a legal representative, you may have to make decisions about your future without knowledge of your defense options.