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Intent to Sell: When Colorado Possession Becomes Trafficking
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Intent to Sell: When Colorado Possession Becomes Trafficking

Three people were recently arrested in Longmont for allegedly intending to distribute cocaine. The arrests were made after a two-month-long investigation by the Boulder County Drug Task Force.  All three suspects face felony charges for suspicion of unlawful cocaine possession with intent to distribute

 

The investigation was initiated when an informant gave information about a potential cocaine dealer in the area. Undercover officers then set up a sting operation and purchased large amounts of cocaine from the suspects in the following weeks.

 

The suspects were arrested in a traffic stop by Longmont police. At the time of the arrest they were in possession of 245 grams of cocaine, which would be considered a Level 1 drug felony, punishable by up to 32 years in prison.

 

This case highlights the importance of simple drug possession versus drug trafficking charges. Drug trafficking charges are much more serious, and have more severe criminal penalties.

 

Below we highlight the difference between trafficking and mere possession, and cover the criminal penalties for Colorado drug trafficking.

 

Trafficking vs. Mere Possession in Colorado

 

The main difference between drug trafficking and possession is whether the suspect intended to distribute the illegal substance. Because this is a crime of intent, drug trafficking charges can be pressed any time there is reason to believe that the suspect intended to distribute the substance in question.

 

The elements of drug trafficking are as follows:

 

  • Knowingly and
  • Intentionally
  • Possessed
  • A controlled substance illegally
  • With the intent to transport, deliver or sell the controlled substance

 

Both trafficking and mere possession are charged based on the type and amount of substances possessed, but trafficking charges are pressed if there is reason to believe that the suspect intended to distribute the substance.

 

Colorado Drug Trafficking Penalties

 

Drug trafficking is prosecuted based on the type and amount of substances allegedly possessed with intent to distribute. There are four degrees of felony-level drug trafficking charges, and one degree of misdemeanor-level charge.

 

Level 1 Drug Felony

A level 1 drug felony consists of possession with intent to distribute any of the following:

 

  • More than 225g of a schedule I or II substance
  • More than 112g of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones
  • More than 50mg of flunitrazepam
  • Any amount when transferred to a minor

 

Colorado Drug Trafficking Lawyer

 

A level 1 drug felony is punishable by 8-32 years of imprisonment and $5,000-$1 million in fines.

 

Level 2 Drug Felony

A level 2 drug felony consists of possession with intent to distribute any of the following:

 

  • 14-225g of a schedule I or II substance
  • 7-112g of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones
  • 10-50g of flunitrazepam
  • Any amount when transferred to a minor

 

A level 2 drug felony is punishable by 4-16 years of imprisonment and $3,000-$750,000 in fines.

 

Level 3 Drug Felony

A level 2 drug felony consists of possession with intent to distribute any of the following:

 

  • Up to 14g of a schedule I or II substance
  • Up to 7g of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones
  • Up to 10g of flunitrazepam
  • More than 4g of a schedule III or IV drug

 

A level 3 drug felony is punishable by 206 years of imprisonment and $2,000-$500,000 in fines.

 

Level 1 Drug Misdemeanor

A level 1 drug misdemeanor consists of possession with intent to distribute any of the following:

 

  • Any amount of a schedule V drug
  • Transfer (without actual sale) of 4g or less of a schedule III or IV drug

 

A level 1 drug misdemeanor is punishable by 6-18 months in jail and $500-$5,000 in fines.

 

A Word on Federal Drug Trafficking Charges

 

One of the more common questions in drug trafficking cases is what makes drug trafficking charges a federal offense. The short answer is that all drug trafficking is a federal offense. However, some drug trafficking cases are prosecuted federally, while others are prosecuted at the state level.

 

Why? Because while federal courts have the ability to take over any drug trafficking case, they don’t have the bandwidth – or interest – to do so. Cases that involve a large amount of drugs, the transfer of drugs between states, or a large interconnected ring of criminals are more likely to be picked up by federal courts.

 

Federal cases are generally more thoroughly investigated, and are thus harder to defend against. Additionally, federal courts impose strict mandatory minimums for sentencing, and are more likely to seek the maximum possible sentence for the charges brought.

 

Facing Colorado Drug Trafficking Charges?

 

Facing Colorado Drug Trafficking Charges?

 

If you are facing drug trafficking charges, it is essential to consult with a skilled Colorado criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. To fight and beat serious charges such as this, you need an experienced drug crime lawyer with a proven track record of success.

 

 

About the Author:

Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.