Federal Drug Trafficking Carries Significant Penalties

Federal drug laws specify minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment, based on the type and quantity of drug involved. Likewise, under the federal sentencing guidelines, these factors are taken into account, along with:

  • Whether the offense involved injury to another person
  • Whether a weapon was possessed or used
  • The defendant's criminal history

Federal Sentencing Guidelines Are Just a Starting Point

  • While judges have discretion to depart from guidelines, they must still stay within the mandatory minimum and maximum terms specified by statute. Where the offense occurs in a school or other protected zone, penalties may be enhanced.

Most judges use the federal drug sentencing guidelines as a starting point in determining how to sentence someone convicted of a drug crime. They provide a baseline to which additional years in prison may be added if there are other factors involved in the crime, such as:

  • Crossing state or national borders
  • Whether weapons were used or present
  • The extent of the drug operation — conspiracy or racketeering charges
  • Your role in the operation

It's essential that your defense lawyer understand the federal drug sentencing guidelines in order to effectively argue for a downward departure, should you be found guilty. The goal is always to minimize the consequences you face.

Choose an Experienced Attorney Who Can Help You Build a Solid Defense

For more than 30 years, Mr. Rubino has been fighting for the rights of people accused of the most serious felony drug crimes — clients at high risk for lengthy prison sentences. He has handled numerous high-profile drug cases for clients in the U.S., and those extradited to the U.S. from various South and Central American countries.

If you have been charged with a felony drug crime in federal court, contact defense attorney Frank Rubino, or call 866-718-3994 to arrange an appointment at his offices in Houston or Miami.

Further Information About Penalties

The following table details the penalties for federal drug trafficking crimes in the U.S. It can be found at the website of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

DRUG

QUANTITY

PENALTIES

QUANTITY

PENALTIES

Cocaine500-4,999 grams mix

First Offense: 5 to 40 years in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, 20 years to life.

Fines up to $2 million for an individual; $5 million if not an individual

Second Offense: 10 years to life in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, life imprisonment.

Fines of up to $4 million for an individual, $10 million if not an individual

5 kgs or more mix

First Offense: 10 years to life in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, 20 years to life.

Fines of up to $4 million for individuals, $10 million if not an individual.

Second Offense: 20 years to life in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, then life imprisonment.

Fines up to $8 million for individuals, $20 million if not an individual.

2 or More Prior Offenses: Life imprisonment

Cocaine Base28-278 grams mix279 grams or more mix
Fentanyl40-399 grams mix400 grams or more mix
Fentanyl Analogue10-99 grams mix100 grams or more mix
Heroin100-999 grams mix1 kg or more mix
LSD1-9 grams mix10 grams or more mix
Methamphetamine5-49 grams pure or 50-499 grams mix50 grams or more pure or 500 grams or more mix
PCP (Schedule II)10-99 grams pure or 100 -999 grams mix100 grams or more pure or 1 kg or more mix

DRUG SCHEDULE

QUANTITY

FEDERAL DRUG PENALTIES

Other Schedule I and II drugs (and any drug product containing Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid)Any amount

First Offense: Up to 20 years in prison; if death or serious injury results, 20 years to life. Fines of up to $1 million for individuals, $5 million if not an individual.

Second Offense: Up to 30 years in prison; if death or serious injury, not less than life. Fines up to $2 million for individuals, $10 million if not an individual

Flunitrazepam
(Schedule IV)
1 gram or more
Other Schedule III drugsAny amount

First Offense: Up to 5 years in prison; fines up to $250,000 for individuals, $1 million if not an individual.

Second Offense: Up to 10 years in prison; fines up to $500,000 for individuals, $2 million if not an individual

Flunitrazepam (Schedule IV)30 to 999 mgs
All other Schedule IV drugsAny amount

First Offense: Up to 3 years in prison; fines up to $250,000 for individuals, $1 million if not an individual.

Second Offense: Up to 6 years in prison; fines up to $500,000 for individuals, $2 million if not an individual.

Flunitrazepam (Schedule IV)Less than 30 mgs
All Schedule V drugsAny amount

First Offense: Up to 1 year in prison; fines up to $100,000 for individuals, $250,000 if not an individual.

Second Offense: Up to 2 years in prison; fines up to $200,000 for individuals, $500,000 if not an individual.

QUANTITY OF MARIJUANA

FEDERAL DRUG TRAFFICKING PENALTIES

1,000 kg or more mix or

1,000 or more plants

First Offense: 10 years to life in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, 20 years to life. Fines up to $4 million for individuals, $10 million if other than an individual.

Second Offense: 20 years to life in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, mandatory life imprisonment. Fines up to $8 million for individuals, $20 million if other than an individual.

100 kg to 999 kg mix or

100 to 999 plants

First Offense: 5 to 40 years in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, 20 years to life. Fines up to $2 million for individuals, $5 million if other than an individual.

Second Offense: 10 years to life in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, mandatory life in prison. Fines up to $4 million for individuals, $10 million if other than an individual.

More than 10 kg hashish; 50 to 99 kg mix

More than 1 kg of hashish oil; 50 to 99 plants

First Offense: Up to 20 years in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, 20 years to life. Fines of $1 million for an individual, $5 million if other than an individual.

Second Offense: Up to 30 years in prison; if death or serious injury resulted, then mandatory life sentence. Fines of $2 million for individuals, $10 million if other than individual.

1 to 49 kg plants; less than 50 kg mix

First Offense: Up to 5 years in prison; fines up to $250,000 for individuals, $1 million if other than individual.

Second Offense: Up to 10 years in prison; fines of $500,000 for individuals, $2 million if other than individual.