27 Nov 23

Philadelphia Federal Cocaine Charges: Trafficking, Possession and Sale

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Last Updated on: 4th January 2024, 08:45 pm

Philadelphia Federal Cocaine Charges: Trafficking, Possession and Sale

Cocaine charges at the federal level are no joke in Philadelphia. With strict mandatory minimum sentences, even first-time offenders can face years behind bars. This article will break down the common federal cocaine crimes, penalties, and possible defenses to help those facing charges.

Trafficking Cocaine

Trafficking involves manufacturing, distributing, or possessing cocaine with intent to manufacture or distribute. Under 21 U.S.C. § 841, federal trafficking penalties are solely based on the quantity involved:

  • 5 kilos or more – 10 years to life
  • 500 grams to 5 kilos – 5 to 40 years
  • Less than 500 grams – Up to 20 years

Trafficking 5 kilos brings a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence. And it only goes up from there. With no parole in the federal system, defendants must serve at least 85% of their sentence.

Simple Possession

Possession of any amount of cocaine is illegal under 21 U.S.C. § 844. First offense simple possession brings:

  • Up to 1 year imprisonment
  • Minimum $1,000 fine
  • Or both

With a prior drug conviction, penalties increase to 2 years imprisonment and a $2,500 minimum fine.

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Possession with intent kicks penalties up a notch. Defendants face 0-20 years under 21 U.S.C. § 841 based on drug quantity. Most intent cases involve less than 500 grams, carrying 0-20 years imprisonment.

Prosecutors use circumstantial evidence to prove intent – things like digital scales, weapons, cash, multiple cell phones, and quantity above personal use levels.

Federal Cocaine Sentencing Factors

Federal judges use the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to calculate sentencing ranges based on the crime and defendant’s criminal history. Things that can increase sentences include:

  • Criminal History – More prior convictions equals more prison time
  • Weapon Possession – 2-4 year sentencing enhancement
  • Death/Bodily Injury – Up to life imprisonment
  • Location – Drug sales near schools, parks, or protected locations

Mitigating factors like playing a minor role, can slightly reduce sentences.

Federal Cocaine Defenses

Cocaine cases often turn on police officer credibility and Fourth Amendment violations. Common defenses include:

  • Illegal Search & Seizure – Most federal drug cases begin with a search or traffic stop. Violations of the Fourth Amendment can lead to evidence suppression.
  • Entrapment – Undercover operations sometimes cross the line into entrapment. This occurs when police improperly induce someone to commit a crime.
  • Improper Police Conduct – Credibility attacks on officer testimony can create reasonable doubt. Use of excessive force or fabrication of evidence allegations may apply.
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Skilled federal defense attorneys also negotiate pleas for lesser charges, cooperate with authorities, or identify sentencing errors.

Take Federal Cocaine Charges Seriously

Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II narcotic under federal law – meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Trafficking and distribution crimes are dealt with harshly, even for first time offenders.

With severe mandatory minimums and no parole, pre-trial consultation with an experienced federal drug defense lawyer is critical. An attorney can examine the case for defenses and form an aggressive mitigation strategy. This gives defendants the best chance at a not guilty verdict or minimized prison sentence. Don’t go it alone against the power of federal prosecutors.

I hope this overview helps those facing federal cocaine charges in Philadelphia understand the common crimes, penalties, defenses and options. Every case is different, so speak to a lawyer to map out the best path forward. Stay positive and keep fighting, as there are always options.