I’ve been accused of drug trafficking in New Jersey. What should I do?

What is drug trafficking?

Drug trafficking is often narrowly thought of as the distribution of illegal drugs, but can also refer to a broader variety of activities beyond distribution, including cultivation, manufacturing, importation, and sale of illicit substances. 

It’s important to note that drug trafficking is distinctly different than drug possession. Drug possession is the possession of illicit substances such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, and other controlled substances. In the instance of a drug possession charge, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was knowingly in possession of the illicit drug for which they are being charged. 

Trafficking in drugs is a more serious criminal charge than that of drug possession. That said, you can sometimes be charged both with possession and distribution if authorities believe there was intent to distribute, or there are larger quantities of illicit drugs related to your possession charges. 

State and federal charges can apply in drug trafficking cases. If the alleged crime took place solely within the state where the charges have been made, then state laws will apply in this case. However, if the alleged crime crossed state lines, then federal drug laws will pertain in addition to the applicable state laws.

Is drug trafficking a felony offense?

Drug trafficking is indeed a felony. In order to build a case beyond drug possession, authorities must provide evidence that supports the intent of these accused to manufacture, cultivate, distribute or sell illegal drugs. 

These pieces of evidence include special equipment used to grow or process drugs, materials or tools such as scales used to weigh drugs, or large amounts of unreported cash used for purchasing (or from the purchase of) large quantities of drugs to be distributed. 

Though not true in all cases, it is typical that some combination of the above strengthens the case of the prosecution. 

As previously stated, drug trafficking is considered a far more serious crime than drug possession, and can carry with it very serious consequences. These punishments will vary depending on the scale of the drug trafficking operation, but commonly include prison sentences, fines, seizure of property and, depending on the citizenship status of the accused, can even result in deportation.

If you are convicted of a federal crime such as drug trafficking, mandatory minimum sentences can apply. Mandatory minimum laws outline specific sentences based certain types and quantities of illegal drugs, removing much of the judge’s decision making when it comes to sentencing. 

Because of the severity of this accusation as well as the restrictiveness in sentencing (restrictions which greatly jeopardize a defendant’s freedom should they be found guilty), it is imperative they seek out and secure legal counsel as soon as is possible. 

What should I do if I’ve been accused of drug trafficking?

If you’ve been accused of drug trafficking, get yourself a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Do not speak to the authorities. Do not give into the urge to contact friends or loved ones or to post about your feelings on social media. Do not panic. Secure your legal representation and follow their advice on how to best proceed. Heeding their advice when facing such serious charges can mean the difference between prison and freedom. 

Upon your arrest, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, as is described in your Miranda warning. You have the right to remain silent and you need to use it. Your attorney will advise you on making any statements of any kind moving forward.

I have been accused of drug trafficking. Am I going to go to prison?

Here’s the reality: It depends. We know that’s not a great answer, but it’s the plain truth. Of course, if you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’ve been accused of drug trafficking, you’ll no doubt want to focus on the best-case scenario (i.e., that you won’t be facing any prison time), but the reality is that, depending on the quality of the prosecution’s case, prison time is a real possibility. Sentencing is going to depend on the severity of the charges you’re facing, the evidence associated with the case, and the prosecution’s ability to convince a jury of your intent. 

Were there firearms associated with the alleged drug trafficking crime? Were individuals seriously injured or killed? Have you been previously convicted? Did the alleged crime occur in a school zone? All of these factors will influence the outcome of the trial, should you be convicted. 

This is why your legal defense is of the utmost importance. Were you aware that there were drugs present in the alleged crime you’ve been accused of? Did the authorities follow the proper procedures with the proper documentation? In the instance you might face conviction, are there options in which you could make a plea deal for a reduced sentence? Having a rock-solid defense team in place who can best understand the intricacies of your case puts you in a much better position than you might believe, because they can help you understand what your options really are (in a time where many people feel that they don’t have any options at all).  

How do I choose the right attorney for drug trafficking charges?

Regardless of the type or amount of drugs you’re being charged in trafficking — be it a metric ton of cocaine, 30,000 pounds of marijuana or two grams of heroin — your reputation is on the line, and so is your freedom. Fines. Prison time. Trouble securing future employment. Your standing in your community. Even your personal relationships! When facing a legal predicament like drug trafficking, it’s all on the line. When you have that much at stake, why gamble with legal counsel who doesn’t truly understand your case or have a vested interest in protecting your freedom?

We highly encourage all who don’t already have legal representation to secure it as quickly as possible. You might not have the time, resources, or energy to vet lawyers on your own, so we recommend using the online research tools you have at your disposal to read reviews (from past clients and peers in the legal community) or to seek guidance from people in your personal or professional network. 

It is your constitutional right to legal counsel when you’ve been accused of a crime, and if you’re unable to afford one, a lawyer will be appointed to you. Court-appointed attorneys are talented, knowledgeable, and committed to protecting their clients’ legal rights, but often must juggle multiple cases and clients, have less time and resources, and cannot necessarily provide you the 1-on-1 attention that a private criminal defense attorney can. 

Since the 1970s, the Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot have supported their clients with a powerful defense against potentially ruinous criminal charges. Don’t you and your loved ones deserve legal counsel committed to upholding your constitutional rights and protecting your freedom? 

If you or a loved one has been accused of drug trafficking, we can help. Call us today for your free consultation.