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Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Federal Drug Trafficking Charges


Federal judges are generally required to impose mandatory minimum sentences for various drug-related charges. How severe those sentences are depends on a variety of factors. These include:

  • The type of drug
  • The quantity of drugs involved
  • The defendant’s prior criminal record
  • Whether there were any injuries or fatalities related to the sale of the drug

There are also drug-related firearm offenses that can impact the severity of a sentence. Federal drug charges are prosecuted under the Controlled Substances Act or the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act. Drug-related firearms offenses involve the possession and use of firearms in connection with drug trafficking or the trigger of mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of prior drug offenses.

Understanding mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking

 Drug trafficking under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)/960(b)(1) requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Drugs such as heroin are included under this statute. An individual found in possession of 1 kilo or more of heroin can be charged with drug trafficking and sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 10 years in federal prison. If a death or serious injury occurs as a result of the illegal drugs, the mandatory minimum sentence is 20 years. If the defendant has a prior felony drug conviction, the mandatory minimum sentence is also 20 years. Those with two or more prior felony drug convictions face a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison. An individual can also face a mandatory minimum life sentence if they have a prior felony conviction and serious injury, or death occurs.

Those convicted of operating a “large organization” that grosses more than $10 million a year in profits also face a mandatory minimum of life in prison. Those convicted of killing in the furtherance of a drug crime face a mandatory minimum of 20 years.

Facing a mandatory minimum sentence can be a nerve-wracking proposition. You will need the aid of an experienced attorney to help fight the charges. Contact a Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer today.

Can you avoid mandatory minimum sentences? 

A defendant may avoid mandatory minimum sentences under a few limited circumstances. Litigating the case and securing a dismissal or an exclusion of evidence by pretrial motions is the most admirable route to choose unless the person wants to be a pawn for the prosecution. Choices are indeed slim, so contact a qualified lawyer right away to understand your rights and what penalties you may face.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Drug Trafficking Criminal Attorney Today 

The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of defendants who have been charged under federal drug statutes. Nicholas G. Matassini is Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law by the Florida Bar. Call our Tampa criminal lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin zealously preparing your defense right away.

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