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Distributing v. trafficking: What’s the difference?

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Many people take “trafficking” and “distributing” to mean the same thing when it comes to drug charges. After all, it is a common myth that trafficking charges stem from a much larger scheme to make money. But this is not true.

So, what exactly constitutes a trafficking charge?

First: Two variables impact all drug charges

The consequences and classification of any drug charges heavily depend on two factors:

  1. The amount of drugs involved
  2. The type of drug involved

These factors can still affect how severe the penalties are for both distribution and trafficking charges. However, there are two other factors you must be aware of that can affect which of these two charges you might face.

How are distribution and trafficking different?

The term “trafficking” leads many people to believe that drug trafficking charges stem from the widespread distribution of illegal substances. But that is not necessarily true. There are two critical factors that differentiate these charges:

  • The transport of illegal substances is what leads to charges of drug distribution
  • The weight of the illegal substances found is what can result in charges of drug trafficking

North Carolina law states that drug trafficking charges essentially involve the manufacturing, selling and distribution of drugs. All of these actions could lead to drug trafficking charges under state or federal law. However, it is the amount of drugs – not the transportation of them – that plays the largest role in determining a trafficking charge.

For example, state law indicates that even possessing between 10 and 50 pounds of marijuana alone could lead to a trafficking charge.

Why should you know the difference?

Trafficking charges are some of the most serious drug charges you could face. And unlike the common belief mentioned above, it does not take much to land with these charges – and the risks they pose.

Distribution and drug trafficking are both felonies. While drug trafficking charges generally have more serious penalties, you should take both charges very seriously and take steps to defend your future.