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Drug Trafficking Charges in Washington State

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There are several types of drug charges that a person can face in Washington state. One of the most serious is drug trafficking, or the sale, transport, or import of illegal drugs. 

Also known as drug distribution, drug trafficking is a federal crime that results in very serious felony penalties. If you are facing drug trafficking charges in Washington state, it is important to speak with a defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Washington Drug Trafficking Laws

Drug trafficking is a serious felony under Washington law. This crime often refers to larger-scale drug distribution and sale, usually by organized groups. Most of these crimes involve drugs like methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and legal prescription drugs such as Vicodin or Oxycontin.

Because drug trafficking is a federal crime, a person charged with drug trafficking could face penalties in either state or federal court. Usually, cases that involve international drug imports, large amounts of drugs and money, and large criminal organizations face charges through federal court. 

Penalties for Drug Trafficking in Washington

Drug trafficking penalties in federal court can vary depending on the severity of the crime and the presence of aggravating factors. For example, if a person is trafficking drugs in a school zone, he or she will likely face higher penalties. Trafficking crimes that involve both drugs and firearms can result in especially harsh consequences in federal court.

Washington courts also levy severe penalties for drug trafficking. According to RCW 69.50.401, people prosecuted in state court could face class B or class C felony penalties, depending on the type of drug involved in the case. 

  • People convicted of class B felonies can face up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $20,000.
  • People convicted of class C felonies can face up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. 

The Washington Uninformed Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into five schedules based on approved medical use and the potential for abuse or dependence. Schedule I drugs have no currently approved medical use and a high potential for abuse, while Schedule V drugs have approved medical uses and a lower potential for abuse.

Under Washington law, any person who distributes a narcotic drug under Schedules I or II would face class B felony charges. A person who distributes a Schedule IV substance would face class C felony charges, except in cases involving flunitrazepam and its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers.

Defending Against Drug Trafficking Charges in Washington

To prove that a person committed a drug trafficking offense, Washington prosecutors need to establish that the defendant knowingly possessed an illegal drug. They must also show that the defendant was involved in its sale, transport, manufacture, or intended to distribute the drug. 

It is possible to defend against drug trafficking charges. For example, a defendant may show evidence that he or she did not knowingly possess the alleged substance. The prosecutor may also obtain evidence in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, which makes it inadmissible in state court.

If you are facing drug trafficking charges in Washington state, it is important to speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney with experience defending drug trafficking cases can help you craft a compelling case in your favor. Contact Mark Treyz following your arrest to discuss your next steps. 

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