Cocaine Possession and Distribution

cocaine-possessionOne of the oldest known drugs, cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant.  Cocaine is an intensely euphoric drug, with immediate effect after a single dose.  Taken in small amounts, cocaine makes its user feel energetic, talkative, and mentally alert. Short-term physiological effects of cocaine are constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased temperature, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure.  Large amounts intensify the user’s high and may lead to erratic, bizarre, and violent behavior.  Consumption of cocaine is through snorting the powdered version or dissolving it in water and injecting it.

Crack, another form of cocaine, comes in a rock crystal and can be heated and its vapors smoked.  With the advent of crack cocaine, the drug has become easily available and continues to burden law enforcement and health care systems alike.  Street names for cocaine include coke, Charlie, snow, flake, blow, nose candy, snowball, tornado, wicky stick, and toot.

Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia are the largest illicit coca producing countries in the world; however, Mexican drug trafficking organizations and criminal groups control most wholesale cocaine distribution in the United States, with Colombian and Dominican groups controlling some of the Northeast and Florida/Caribbean Regions.  Most cocaine is smuggled over the Mexican border into the United States and is distributed in nearly every large and midsize city.

Cocaine is categorized as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, classifying it as a drug with a high potential for abuse, but one that can be legitimately administered by a doctor for medical uses, such as local anesthesia for throat, eye, and ear surgeries.

Cocaine possession charges include not only simple (actual) possession of the drug (on the person), but may also include constructive possess of cocaine found in any area over which a person has control. For example, the driver of a car may be in constructive possession of cocaine found inside the glove compartment or the trunk of his car or the resident owner of a house may be in constructive possession of cocaine found in his kitchen or bedroom.

The criminal justice system is fairly consistent in the war on drugs with most state law for cocaine possession or distribution mirroring federal law.  Consequently the penalties for possession and/or distribution of cocaine are the same as for all other Schedule I or II narcotics possession and distribution convictions.

Possession of less than 3 grams of cocaine is a class D felony and is punishable with one-half to three years of jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.  For greater quantities, penalties increase, peaking at possession of 3 grams or more in a park, public housing complex, school bus, or within 1,000 feet of a school, which increases the charge to a Class A Felony with six to twenty years of jail time and fines up to $10,000.  In addition, following a conviction for cocaine possession, a person’s driver’s licenses and motor vehicle registrations are suspended for a minimum of six months and a maximum of two years.

Distribution (selling) of cocaine is a much more serious crime than possession of cocaine, with much more serious penalties.  A conviction of distribution which includes the crime of possession with intent to distribute as well as distribution itself is considered a Class B felony with a jail time sentence of six to twenty years.  Class A Felony cocaine distribution and possession with intent to distribute convictions are based on the amount of cocaine involved in the crime, and ranges from 3 grams of cocaine, which draws a penalty of 6-20 years to distribution and/or possession with intent to distribute near schools and other public places, which draws a penalty of twenty to fifty years.  All penalties may include fines of up to $10,000.

Distribution of cocaine, as with all Schedule I and II drug charges, include manufacturing, financing the manufacturing, delivering, or financing the delivery of cocaine.  A sale is not a requirement for a charge of distribution of cocaine.  Mere transfer of the product is sufficient for an arrest and conviction.

Defending cocaine possession/cocaine distribution charges lies in the ability to prove that either what was found did not belong to the person charged, or at least that the person did not have intention to sell the cocaine in his/her possession, or that the law enforcement officials who arrested the person violated the his constitutional rights.  These defenses would include unreasonable search and seizure of property, no probable cause for a search, unlawful surveillance, or entrapment.

  • Share/Save/Bookmark