Drug Trafficking vs. Drug Possession in Alabama

If you are arrested on a drug related charge, it is important to know exactly what it is you are facing. While all drug charges are serious, there is a huge difference between drug possession and drug trafficking. In addition, your defense strategy will vary greatly based on the type of charges filed against you.

What is Drug Possession?

In Alabama, a charge related to drug possession simply means that the prosecutors are charging you for having the drugs for your own personal use. They aren’t charging you with seeking to sell the drugs, or to transport them for the purpose of selling. While still serious, possession comes with the lightest penalties.

The specific penalties can vary greatly depending on the amount of the drug you have, and how much of it is in your possession. In addition, the courts have quite a bit of leeway regarding what the penalties will be based on a variety of factors. Some general information about possible punishment for drug possession charges include the following:

  • Marijuana – If you have 2.2 pounds or fewer, it is considered a misdemeanor and can come with up to a year in jail and a $6000 fine. For more than 2.2 pounds, it is a Class C felony and can include 1-10 years in jail as well as up to $15,000 in fines.
  • Cocaine – If you have under 28 grams it is a class C felony, which comes with 1-10 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. More than 28 grams (but fewer than 500) is still a class C felony, but can come with at least 3 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Methamphetamine – Meth charges follow the same structure as cocaine for penalties.
  • Heroin – If you have fewer than 4 grams it is a class C felony with 1-10 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

NOTE: Alabama legislature introduced a new Class D felony for drug possession back in 2015. This new class has a minimum sentence of 1 year and 1 day in prison and a maximum sentence of 5 years. The Class D felony is also not eligible for time off for “good behavior” so those found guilty will serve their entire sentence. The courts can seek a Class D felony charge for possession of a controlled substance or possession of marijuana if the possession is not for personal use.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Drug trafficking is a charge that can be given to those who are accused of participating in one or more parts of the overall drug operation. This can include the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, or sale of illegal substances. For first time offenders, the following are some basic guidelines for what type of penalties you may be facing:

  • Marijuana – This is typically a Class A felony, which comes with at least 3 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
  • Cocaine – Trafficking between 28 and 500 grams of cocaine is a class A felony. The penalties are also at least 3 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Methamphetamine – Trafficking meth also comes with at least 3 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
  • Heroin – Those trafficking 4-14 grams of heroin are guilty of a class A felony, and face 3+ years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.

Taking Your Charges Seriously

No matter what type of drug charges you are facing, it is important that you take them very seriously. Attorney John M. Totten has helped many people through these charges, and can aggressively defend your legal rights. Contact us to discuss all your options today.

Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.