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In the state of Mississippi—as in most states—the primary differences between drug possession charges and drug trafficking charges is the amount of the illegal substance in your possession, as well as whether you crossed a state line with the substance in yourpossession. The next major difference between the two charges is the severity of the penalties.
A drug trafficking conviction can have severe enough penalties to completely alter the course of your life. A more specific comparison of the two charges includes:
- Drug Possession—You can be charged with drug possession if you have, on your person or in close proximity, an illicit substance. If you are caught using an illegal drug you could be charged with possession, or if the drugs are in your possession or in a place you could reasonably be expected to have access to (the glove box of your car, under the bed in your home), you could be charged with possession. Penalties for drug possession are likely to be much lighter, than for drug trafficking, with fines, rehabilitation programs and potentially a jail sentence.
- Drug Trafficking—The crime of selling or illegally transporting illegal substances across state or national lines could result in drug trafficking charges, or, in some instances, simply having a large amount of illegal drugs in your possession could result in drug trafficking charges. Most people believe they cannot be charged with trafficking unless they cross a state line, however this is not always the case. Possession of a controlled substance can become a trafficking charge if the drugs weigh enough.
Mississippi Penalties for Trafficking in Cocaine
Using cocaine as an example, a conviction for trafficking in cocaine requires having more than 30 grams in your possession, having three or more selling offenses in a 12-month period, or having 30 grams of cocaine to sell. Prior convictions cannot be used to establish trafficking, due to double jeopardy. If you are found guilty of trafficking cocaine, you could receive life in prison without suspension or parole; the mandatory minimum is ten years. Fines for a conviction of trafficking in cocaine could be from $5,000 to $1,000,000. The only help offered to a person being charged with drug trafficking in the state of Mississippi, is for those who act as informants, and help “take down” an entire drug ring.
Mississippi Penalties for Possession of Cocaine
In contrast, the penalties for possession of cocaine in Mississippi are as follows:
- Possession of less than 0.1 grams of cocaine is a misdemeanor, with penalties of less than a year in jail and a fine as large as $1,000.
- Possession of 0.1 to 2 grams of cocaine is a felony, with penalties of no more than three years in jail and a fine as large as $50,000.
- Possession of 2-10 grams of cocaine is a felony, with penalties of up to 8 years in prison, and a fine as large as $250,000.
- Possession of 10-30 grams of cocaine is a felony, with penalties of 3-20 years in prison, and a fine as large as $500,000.
Mississippi Lawmakers Attempt to Define Drug Trafficking
In the state of Mississippi in 2014, lawmakers struggled with the actual definition of a drug trafficker. During debate over the issue, an amendment was offered which would set a 500-gram minimum before a person could be charged with drug trafficking (rather than 30 grams). This would have made Mississippi state law more closely align with federal trafficking laws.
Contact Our Jackson Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with a drug crime in the state of Mississippi, you could potentially be in serious, long-term trouble. It is important that you contact an experienced Mississippi drug crime attorney as soon as possible in order to determine what your options are, and to have a strong legal professional looking out for your rights.