Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney
June 13. 2023.
What Is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking is the illegal manufacturing, distribution, and sale of controlled substances. Several controlled substances are prohibited in the United States.
The Controlled Substances Act divides drugs into five schedules depending on their abuse potential. Individuals caught trafficking substances listed under Schedules 1 to 5 will face serious consequences.
Drug Trafficking Laws in Missouri
Under Missouri laws, drug trafficking occurs when a person knowingly distributes or attempts to deliver, manufacture, or produce:
Over thirty grams of a mixture or substance containing detectable amounts of heroin
Over one hundred and fifty grams of a substance containing coca leaves or cocaine salts
Over five hundred milligrams but less than one gram of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
More than eight grams of a substance containing a cocaine base
Over thirty grams of a mixture or substance containing phencyclidine (PCP)
Over four grams of phencyclidine
More than thirty kilograms of a substance containing marijuana
Over ten milligrams of fentanyl or carfentanil
Any amount of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid
More than thirty grams of any mixture containing amphetamine, methamphetamine, and phenmetrazine.
Both state and federal drug laws govern drug crimes in Missouri. But, the penalties and sentencing at the federal level are harsher. Hence, individuals can face trafficking charges for possessing large quantities of controlled substances.
Individuals are presumed innocent until the prosecution proves them guilty. However, entering a guilty plea means they committed the crime, and the court will skip their trial.
Entering a not-guilty plea means that there will be a trial. At the trial, the prosecution and defense will present evidence to prove that the individual committed the crime.
If the jury or judge finds them guilty, they will attend a sentencing hearing. However, if they do not, they will be acquitted.
Penalty for a Drug Trafficking Charge in the First Degree
The penalty for a first-degree drug trafficking offense depends on the type of drugs and the quantity involved.
First-Time drug charges in Missouri are Class B felonies. However, they are upgraded to a Class A felony offense if the quantity is higher.
For example, trafficking over thirty grams of heroin, marijuana, or PCP is a Class B felony. However, if the quantity involved is over ninety grams, it is upgraded to a Class A felony.
A Class B felony charge carries a penalty of five to fifteen years imprisonment and a fine of $20,000. For Class A felonies, the penalty is ten to thirty years imprisonment and $30,000 in fines.
If an individual was trafficking drugs across state lines, it would become a federal offense. Under federal laws, the maximum punishment is life imprisonment and up to $10 million in fines.
For group-related offenses, the fines are up to $50 million and not more than forty years imprisonment. Individuals convicted of drug trafficking charges are not eligible for parole, diversion, or plea bargaining.
Drug Trafficking Aggravating Factors
The court may enhance a drug penalty if certain factors are present, including:
The involvement of an individual below the age of eighteen
The use of firearms
The death or serious bodily injury of someone else occurred
The distribution of drugs to individuals below the age of twenty-one
Trafficking drugs while on parole for another offense
The distribution of drugs to an individual who is pregnant
Trafficking drugs at a school where children are present
Aggravating factors can substantially increase your sentence. Having the guidance of a criminal defense attorney in Kansas City is important.
What to Do When Arrested for Drug Trafficking
If you are arrested for a drug trafficking offense, contact the Missouri DWI Criminal Law Center. Do not talk to the police officers about the case.
When questioned, do not make any admissions because they are recorded as evidence. Our lawyers can help secure a bond or bail on your behalf.