This week we received a dismissal for our client charged with aggravated trafficking in illegal drugs in Oklahoma County. This win is great because of the collateral consequences a conviction for aggravated trafficking can carry.
Trafficking Charges and Punishments
A person convicted of aggravated trafficking in illegal drugs will face a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment in the Department of Corrections for a terms of at least fifteen years, and the charge carries up to life in prison. Moreover, anyone convicted of aggravated trafficking will have to serve 85% of their sentence before being eligible for parole consideration or any earned "good-time" credits. On top of that, any sentence imposed pursuant to a conviction for aggravated trafficking cannot be suspended or deferred. Finally, as if the other conditions weren't enough, a conviction for aggravated drug trafficking also carries up to a $500,000.00 fine. That's right: half a million dollars.
For these reasons, aggravated trafficking is, in my opinion, the most dangerous drug charge a person can face in Oklahoma. All of the above-mentioned reasons show that the Oklahoma Legislature looks at drug traffickers in a very negative light. Still, even with all of the harsh penalties, individuals risk their freedom every day in the drug-trade.
Distribution VS Trafficking
I'm often asked "what's the difference between possession of CDS with intent to distribute and trafficking in illegal drugs?" The answer? Weight. Pure and simple. That's it. Trafficking charges are handed out based on the amount of drugs that a "drug dealer" is caught with. That means that one extra gram that can tip the scale will sometimes be the difference between your run-of-the-mill possession with intent charge and a trafficking case.
Consequently the same thing goes for the difference between trafficking and aggravated trafficking. It all depends on the amount of drugs that are supposedly being distributed. Just like you have to have more weight to go from possession with intent to trafficking, you need even more weight to go from trafficking in illegal drugs to aggravated trafficking in illegal drugs.
As such, the law firm providing the drug trafficking defense has two different fights on it's hands: they not only has to defend against the allegation that the client had possession of the drugs with the intent to distribute them, but they also has to fight a quantitative analysis in regards to the amount of drugs that were actually in his client's "possession."
These types of cases aren't easy, and they take a lot of hard work and preparation. Considering the liability the client possibly faces if convicted, he or she can't risk hiring a lawyer who is unwilling to dive into the case and make sure that every possible defense is exhausted. This time, the prosecution bit off more than they could chew, and we were able to get the best result possible for our client.