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Maine Drug Trafficking Defense Attorneys

Despite what you see on many crime shows on TV, drug trafficking is typically a low-key thing. The drug kingpins, the undercover agents that spend years infiltrating a gang, the legions of overly-armed bodyguards, and the police stakeout that always ends in a firefight make for great TV, and a lot of misconceptions about how drug trafficking actually works in the real world.
Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyers in Maine located in Portland & Kennebunk

The state of Maine makes it illegal to “traffic” controlled substances. Trafficking means, in a nutshell, to “deal” drugs.

Call 207-571-8146 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys today.

Table of Contents

What is Drug Trafficking?

In Maine, drug trafficking is considered the intentional possession of a scheduled drug(s) in a manner that suggests trafficking, according to the Maine criminal code. Scheduled drugs are categorized into different schedules, with Schedule W containing the most dangerous drugs. For instance, possession of over a pound of marijuana is indicative of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs.

A defense against drug trafficking charges can be that the law permits the activity or that it is a civil violation. If facing drug trafficking charges, seeking legal counsel from an experienced attorney is crucial to protect your rights and explore all possible defenses.

Controlled Substances

A “controlled substance” is a drug that the government regulates. Maine puts these drugs into four categories, which it calls Schedules.

  • Schedule W is where the most serious drugs are found. Schedule W includes dangerous, highly addictive, drugs that have little to no medicinal purpose, like cocaine and heroin.
  • Schedule X includes addictive drugs and other hallucinogens that pose less of a threat, or have a higher medicinal value than Schedule W drugs. The types of drugs included in Schedule X are, for example, peyote, ketamine, and other hallucinogenic substances that come from plants or mushrooms.
  • The substances listed in Schedule Y include predominantly prescription drugs. These drugs have high medicinal value, but can also be very addictive, and therefore easily abused. Included in Schedule Y are drugs like codeine and valium.
  • Schedule Z is a catch-all category and includes all other prescription and non-prescription drugs not included in the other three Schedules. Marijuana is among the drugs listed in Schedule Z.

For a more complete listing of the drugs listed in each one of Maine’s Schedules, you can read more in this post in our blog.

“Trafficking” Controlled Substances

Now that we have a firm grasp on what kinds of drugs are illegal to traffic, we can delve into what it means to actually do the trafficking.

While it might seem that “trafficking” drugs would mean the act of selling them, in reality, it means much, much more. Maine’s definition of “trafficking” drugs encompasses not only selling drugs, but also giving them away or trading them, moving or possessing drugs in order to sell them, give them, or trade them, as well as the act of growing, creating, or cultivating them. Maine’s definition of “drug trafficking” even includes simply possessing over a certain amount of specific drugs. Because of the wide range of activities that falls within Maine’s definition of “trafficking drugs,” it can be surprisingly easy to find yourself caught in its nasty web of drug charges.

Call 207-571-8146 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys today.

What is the typical sentence for drug possession, trafficking or distribution in Maine?

Penalties for Drug Trafficking in Maine

In Maine, drug trafficking is classified as either a Class B, C, or D crime, which corresponds to a felony or misdemeanor in other areas. Trafficking in a Schedule W drug or possessing 20 or more pounds of marijuana or growing 500 or more marijuana plants is considered a Class B felony.

Trafficking in a Schedule X drug or possessing between one and 20 pounds of marijuana or growing between 100 and 500 marijuana plants is considered a Class C felony.

Possessing Schedule Y or Schedule Z drugs is considered a Class D misdemeanor.

Generally, the penalties that you could face if you get convicted for drug trafficking depend on what type of drug you were found with.

Class of Crime Fines Jail Time
Schedule W Class B felony Up to $20,000 Up to 10 years
Schedule X Class C felony Up to $5,000 Up to 5 years
Schedule Y Class D misdemeanor Up to $2,000 Up to 364 days
Schedule Z Class D misdemeanor Up to $1,000 Up to 6 months

However, Maine’s drug trafficking laws don’t stop there. They also create a series of “presumptive trafficking” situations. These allow law enforcement to presume that you were trafficking, simply because of what kinds of drugs you possess, or how much of them you possess. When it comes to marijuana, simply possessing large amounts or a lot of plants can lead to trafficking charges, regardless of what you intended to do with what you have:

Class of Crime Fines Jail Time
20lbs or more of marijuana, or 500 or more marijuana plants Class B felony Up to $20,000 Up to 10 years
1lb or more of marijuana, or 100 or more marijuana plants Class C felony Up to $5,000 Up to 5 years

With regard to other drugs, the same principle applies: Maine’s drug trafficking laws say that simply possessing over a set amount lets prosecutors pursue drug trafficking charges, regardless of what you were going to do with the drugs. These other drugs, and the set amount that lets prosecutors do this are:

  • 14 grams or more of powder cocaine or methamphetamine,
  • 4 grams or more of crack cocaine,
  • 90 or more pills containing any narcotic drug,
  • Pills containing 800 or more milligrams of oxycodone,
  • Pills containing 100 or more milligrams of hydromorphone,
  • 30 or more pills of MDMA or similar drugs.

Again, it doesn’t matter what you intend on doing with these drugs. Simply having them is enough to get charged with drug trafficking, in Maine.

Moreover, these are just the state laws regarding drug trafficking. The federal government also has the ability to regulate drug trafficking, as well. If federal prosecutors want to, they can pick up state cases in Maine and tack on federal criminal charges, as well. These can increase the penalties that you could be facing.

Learn More >> What are the penalties for drug trafficking in Maine?

How a Maine Defense Attorney Fights Against Drug Trafficking Charges

As always, the first thing to remember is that the prosecutor carries the burden of proof and that they have to meet this burden beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the jury in a trial cannot have a reasonable doubt that the prosecutor has successfully shown that all of the elements of a drug trafficking charge have been met. And there are a lot of these elements for the prosecutor to meet. They need to show that you:

  • Intentionally or knowingly trafficked…
  • What you knew, or believed to be, a controlled substance…

And which was, in fact, a controlled substance.

Call 207-571-8146 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys today.

Is Drug Trafficking Considered A Federal Offense?

When drug trafficking crosses the state line, it becomes a federal offense that can be prosecuted by a federal prosecutor in a federal courtroom. Federal drug convictions for trafficking generally carry harsher penalties and longer sentences ranging from three years to life in prison, but the specific penalties will depend on the following factors:

  • The type and amount of the controlled substance involved;
  • The location where the defendant was apprehended (may result in aggravated trafficking charges);
  • The defendant’s criminal history.

Good criminal defense attorneys, like The Maine Criminal Defense Group, know how to attack every weak link in the prosecution’s case, using everything from criminal procedure arguments to evidentiary questions. The Maine Criminal Defense Group uses his unique set of experiences as a criminal defense attorney to look for minute details in the case against you, and leverage them to your advantage. His track record shows that his techniques defending against drug trafficking charges are among the best in the state of Maine.

Call 207-571-8146 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys today.

Drug Trafficking Frequently Asked Questions

What are Maine’s “mandatory minimums”?

Mandatory minimums” are minimum prison sentences for certain crimes, including aggravated drug trafficking. If you are subject to a mandatory minimum, the judge cannot sentence you to any lesser prison term unless the “safety valve” applies. The mandatory minimum for a Class A crime, for example, is four years (the maximum is 30 years).

What is “aggravated” drug trafficking?

An offense is “aggravated” when circumstances render the offense more serious than it otherwise would have been. In Maine, aggravated drug trafficking can trigger mandatory minimum sentencing or “step-up” the category of the offense (from Class A to Class B, for example).

What factors are considered “aggravating”?

A Maine drug trafficking offense can be aggravated if:

  • You are found with minimum amounts of certain types of drugs (6 or more grams of heroin triggers Maine’s Class A mandatory minimum, for example)
  • You have a prior drug trafficking conviction
  • You are caught in proximity to a school or other “safe zone” (even if no students were involved in the transaction)
  • Other aggravating factors (possession of a gun in connection with drug trafficking, for example)

What is the Maine “safety valve”?

The Maine statutory safety valve allows you to be sentenced to less than the mandatory minimum, despite your eligibility for it, under certain circumstances. An example would be a case where imposing a mandatory minimum sentence would result in “substantial injustice.”

What is the entrapment defense?

The entrapment defense applies at both the state and federal levels and, if successful, results in a complete acquittal. Entrapment is present if the police goad you into committing a crime that you were not otherwise inclined to commit. Drug purchase “sting” operations, if properly executed, do not normally constitute entrapment.

What is the exclusionary rule?

The exclusionary rule is based on the U.S. Constitution, and it applies to both state and federal prosecutions. It allows the defense to exclude any evidence that was seized illegally (without probable cause, for example). If the excluded evidence is important enough to the prosecution, charges might be dropped.

What are some other defenses against a drug trafficking charge?

Other than entrapment and the exclusionary rule, some of the most commonly used defenses against drug trafficking charges include:

  • The drugs belonged to someone else or cannot be identified as yours (they were found in an apartment you share with roommates, for example);
  • The substance you were caught with was not actually an illegal drug and was harmless;
  • The drugs went missing after they were seized due to police incompetence.

Many more defenses might be available, depending on the facts of your particular case.

How does a plea bargain work?

In a plea bargain, you agree to plead guilty to a lesser offense such as drug possession, thereby avoiding a trial. In return, the prosecutor agrees to recommend that the judge accept your plea and drop the drug trafficking charge. Although the judge is not required to accept the plea, he or she usually does.

What are the biggest mistakes I can make in a drug trafficking prosecution?

There are too many to count. Some of the most common are:

  • Attempting to represent yourself (the most serious mistake by far),
  • Hiring inexperienced, indifferent, or incompetent counsel to represent you,
  • Confessing,
  • Speaking freely to the police (even if you are innocent),
  • Waiting too long to retain a lawyer.

Can the police search my car or my home without a warrant?

They can do so legally if one of the many exceptions to the warrant rule applies. An exception would probably apply, for example, if drugs were seized from you while you were attempting to flush them down the toilet. A lot depends on where the search occurred – as the police are much more likely to need a warrant to search your home than to search your car.

Contact a Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer in Maine

To avoid being convicted of transporting or selling a controlled substance, it is always wise to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who you can trust to provide you with strong and reliable defense.

With the help of a legal professional, you may be able to prove that the officers conducted an illegal search and seizure or that police misconduct such as planting evidence was the cause for your drug crime charges.

To learn more about how you can protect your freedom and future from a conviction, don’t hesitate to contact our firm.

Call 207-571-8146 or contact us online to schedule a consult with one of our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys today.

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