Federal Court Sentences Virginia Man For Drug Distribution Crimes
A U.S. federal judge sentenced a Virginia man to five years in prison for various drug distribution crimes, according to a press release from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Official reports indicate that the Virginia man engaged in a conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine from 2018 to 2020. To break this case, law enforcement utilized a confidential informant to purchase illegal drugs, officially referred to legally as controlled substances. In addition, law enforcement intercepted various phone communications made by the Virginia man.
Even though this case reached its endpoint, it provides fertile ground to examine the U.S. federal laws against and penalties for drug distribution crimes.
U.S. Federal Laws Against Drug Distribution
21 U.S. Code Section 841 establishes the federal laws against drug distribution crimes. This section makes it illegal to knowingly or intentionally:
- Distribute, manufacture, or dispense any controlled substance;
- Possess any controlled substance with intent to distribute, manufacture, or dispense;
- Create, distribute, or dispense any counterfeit substance; or
- Possess any counterfeit substance with intent to distribute or dispense.
In this context, the term “counterfeit substance” has a specific definition under 21 U.S. Code Section 802. These substances are created to mimic actual controlled substances — by unlawfully mimicking the packaging, labels, trademarks, or other identifying characteristics.
U.S. Federal Penalties for Drug Distribution
The U.S. federal penalties for drug distribution crimes also appear under Section 841. It is important to note that the penalties for this offense fluctuate greatly, depending on the type and quantity of substance in question.
Using heroin as an illustrative example, the U.S. federal penalties for drug distribution crimes are as follows:
- Less than 100 grams of heroin (first offense) — Imprisonment for a maximum of 20 years and criminal fines up to $1 million;
- Less than 100 grams of heroin (second offense) — Imprisonment for a maximum of 30 years and criminal fines up to $2 million;
- More than 100 grams of heroin (first offense) — Imprisonment for five to 40 years and criminal fines up to $5 million;
- More than 100 grams of heroin (second offense) — Imprisonment for 10 years to life and criminal fines up to $8 million;
- More than 1 kilogram of heroin (first offense) — Imprisonment for 10 years to life and criminal fines up to $10 million; or
- More than 1 kilogram of heroin (second offense) — Imprisonment for 15 years to life and criminal fines up to $20 million.
As noted above, however, the U.S. federal penalties for this offense do have variance. For example, if a drug distribution crime led to the death of or serious bodily injury to any victim, the punishment becomes much more severe. If a corporation or similar non-human actor committed drug distribution, the criminal fines increase substantially.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with U.S. federal or Virginia state drug crimes, it can be highly valuable to consult with a dependable Leesburg criminal lawyer. The lawyers at Simms Showers LLP appreciate how to mount a solid defense against criminal charges, including federal and state drug crimes. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.