Your drug trafficking offense can be charged as a federal crime in Colorado under certain circumstances. In this post, we’ll detail the reasons why law enforcement officials can charge you at the federal level, and what you can do if you find yourself dealing with a federal case.
Colorado Drug Trafficking Charges
Both state and federal laws penalize drug trafficking, which is the transport, import, sale, and/or manufacture of illegal controlled substances. The level of penalty varies with the type of drug and the amount of the drug in question. Penalties can be enhanced if children were targeted as consumers.
Trafficking is a more serious drug crime than possession, because it involves a wider spread of drug-related activity. Illegal drugs like cocaine, fentanyl and heroine are involved in drug trafficking charges, as well as prescription drugs in specific amounts.
For drug trafficking charges to be upheld, the district attorney does not necessarily need to prove that you moved or distributed drugs. If the quantity of drugs is large enough, you can be charged with drug trafficking regardless of whether they were transported or sold.
What Makes Something a Federal Drug Trafficking Offense
What elements of a drug trafficking charge make a case rise to the federal level? The criteria aren’t set in stone. Essentially, if something is a law at the federal level, federal judges have discretionary rights to allow a case to be tried in their court.
The typical reason for drug trafficking cases to be made federal cases is if the transporting operation involves more than one state or another country. However, it can also be a federal case if a large drug trafficking ring is operating only in Colorado – it’s just less likely.
Know that if your case is prosecuted at the federal level, you will be subject to harsher penalties and minimum mandatory sentencing.
Let’s look at the base tier of what may constitute a federal charge.
Cocaine 500 – 4999 grams
Cocaine base – 5-49 grams
Fentanyl – 40-399 grams
Fentanyl Analogue – 10-99 grams
Heroin – 100-999 grams
LSD – 1-9 grams
Methamphetamine – 5-49 grams pure or 50-499 grams mixture
PCP – 10-99 grams pure or 100-999 grams mixture
If convicted for trafficking any of these drugs, as a first offense you will face up to 40 years in federal prison with a minimum mandatory sentence of five years. If death or serious injury occurred during the act, you could face up to life in prison with a minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years. Fines of $2 million to $5 million will also apply.
Federal Drug Trafficking Charges Demand Immediate Strong Action
As you can see in the example above, drug trafficking at the federal level involves incredibly lengthy sentencing.
The federal government is prosecuting methamphetamines and large stashes of marijuana to try to break up production and distribution rings. It is also focused on cases involving cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids.
If your case involves any of these types of drugs, it’s essential for you to get aggressive representation from a knowledgeable Colorado criminal attorney with a successful track record handling federal cases.
Taking on federal charges isn’t just about dealing with the drastically increased power and funding of the federal government. Rules are different in federal court. Procedural mistakes can cost you big time. If your case catches the eye of the feds, you need to be ready to fight back – but you have to do it by their rules.
About the Author:
Since 2005, Jeffrey L. Weeden has been practicing criminal defense law in Colorado and has helped countless clients protect their rights and freedoms as a respected, caring, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney. Over the course of his career, Mr. Weeden’s work has been recognized in numerous ways, including being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers, earning a 10.0 “Suberb” Avvo rating, receiving Martindale-Hubbard’s highest peer review rating — AV Preeminent, and being asked to speak on several issues of interest to the legal community. Additionally, he is someone who cares deeply about his community and those in need, and is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Law Firm Pro Bono Coordinators.