Federal penalties for a cocaine trafficking conviction are very serious. Their severity ultimately depends on two factors: 1) how much cocaine federal authorities convicted you of trafficking; and 2) how many times you have been convicted of drug offenses. Let's take a look at the various penalties associated with cocaine trafficking below.
Cocaine trafficking of 500 to 4999 grams
First offense: If an accused person is convicted of cocaine trafficking of between 500 and 4999 grams for the first time, he or she will face a minimum of five years in federal prison and a maximum of 40 years. If a serious injury or death was associated with the cocaine trafficking offense, the minimum penalty will be 20 years to as much as life imprisonment. For the conviction of an individual, fines could be as high as $5 million.
Second offense: If an accused person has a prior conviction for cocaine trafficking, the minimum punishment will be 10 years in prison up to life. If a serious bodily injury or death was involved, the minimum penalty is life. Fines of up to $8 million could be imposed on the conviction of an individual.
Cocaine trafficking of 5 kilograms or more
First Offense: In the case of a first-offense conviction relating to 5 kilograms of cocaine trafficking or more, the minimum punishment is 10 years in prison up to life. If a serious bodily injury or death was associated with the conviction the minimum sentence is 20 years up to life. Fines of up to $10 million can be administered in the case of an individual conviction.
Second Offense: If convicted of cocaine trafficking of 5 kilograms or more with a prior drug conviction on one's record, the minimum prison sentence will be 20 years up to life. If a serious bodily injury or death was associated with the offense, then the minimum prison sentence will be life. Fines of up to $20 million could be imposed in cases of an individual conviction.
Two or more previous convictions: If the cocaine trafficking of 5 kilograms or more conviction happens after two or more prior convictions, the mandatory punishment is life in prison, with fines as high as $20 million in the case of an individual conviction.
Getting help with a federal drug trafficking offense
Because the penalties associated with a federal drug trafficking conviction are so extreme, California residents accused of such crimes may want to seek legal assistance to formulate a federal drug crimes defense. Even in cases where the evidence against the individual is particularly strong - and even when conviction is likely - it may be possible to employ legal strategies to reduce one's punishments.