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Criminal Defense

What is the difference between drug possession & drug trafficking in Louisiana?

By June 13, 2022May 23rd, 2024No Comments

In Louisiana, drug possession and drug trafficking are charges that are both taken very seriously. However, drug trafficking is usually prosecuted more severely. 

Whether you are facing a drug possession or drug trafficking charge, having an experienced criminal attorney from our Jones Law Partners by your side is key to ensuring the best possible outcome to clear your good name.

How are drug possession and drug trafficking similar in Louisiana?

Both drug possession and drug trafficking charges mean that you are accused of having a controlled substance on you without authorization to do so.

In Louisiana, these substances are categorized into schedules:

  • Schedule I: Marijuana offenses and non-marijuana offenses.
  • Schedule II: Hydromorphone, Methadone, Meperidine, Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Morphine, Opium, Hydrocodone, Glutethimide, Pentobarbital, and Amobarbital.
  • Schedule III: Buprenorphine (Suboxone) Codeine and Hydrocodone products mixed with Aspirin or Acetaminophen.
  • Schedule IV: Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien, Tramadol. 
  • Schedule V: drugs generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes

In Louisiana, why are drug possession and drug trafficking charges handled differently?

Drug possession is just that – having a controlled substance without authorization. 

Drug trafficking, however, is having possession of that substance with the intent to distribute it or sell it.

Believe it or not, a drug trafficking charge does not just happen when a person is caught selling or distributing a controlled substance.

A drug trafficking charge can happen based on the amount of a controlled substance you have on hand.

It can also happen if related equipment is found that could be used to prep the controlled substance for sale or distribution. 

Penalties for drug possession in Louisiana

In Louisiana, drug possession penalties include:

  • Schedule I: First and second violations for marijuana possession can result in six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.
    • Additional violations for marijuana possession could be classified as a felony, which means the sentence can go up to eight years and a fine up to $5,000.
  • Non-marijuana offenses can result in prison time and/or fines that are anywhere from one to ten years and up to $5,000.
  • Schedule II, III, IV, V: Anywhere from 1-5 years in prison, and/or fines up to $5,000.

It is important to note that synthetic cannabinoids, or possession of phencyclidine (PCP), can increase the sentence to 20 years. And possession of Flunitrazepam (which are more commonly called ruffies) can increase the jail sentence to 10 years.

For all scheduled substances, second (or more) offenses can double the prison time, fine, or both.

And, possession in or within 1,000 feet of an area deemed a “drug-free zone” (such as a park or a school) could increase all penalties by one and a half.

Penalties for drug trafficking in Louisiana

The schedule above additionally applies for drug trafficking.

However, prison terms can be up to 30 years, or more, and fines can even be as high as $250,000.

If you have a prior drug or criminal conviction, or if you have a weapon on hand at the time of the arrest,  you can expect the penalties to be even more severe.

If you face a drug possession or drug trafficking charge in Louisiana, contact the Jones Law Partners today

Our Jones Law Partners take the time to understand your case and develop the best possible defense strategy. We know that every case is different – and that the wins come down to the details.

Remember, no matter your situation; you deserve the right to a fair trial. Allow us to help see you through it. Contact the Jones Law Firm today to schedule your confidential consultation.

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