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How do dealing, distribution and trafficking charges differ?

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2024 | Drug Charges

When it comes to drug-related offenses, the terms “drug dealing,” “drug distribution” and “drug trafficking” are often used interchangeably. However, these terms have distinct legal definitions and carry different penalties under the law.

It is important to understand the differences between these offenses to help you better prepare your defense.

Drug dealing

Drug dealing refers to the sale of illegal drugs on a smaller scale, usually at the street level. This offense involves the direct exchange of drugs for money or other goods between the dealer and the buyer. Drug dealing charges are often associated with the possession of smaller quantities of drugs and may result in less severe penalties compared to distribution or trafficking charges.

Drug distribution

Drug distribution is a broader term that encompasses the sale, delivery or provision of illegal drugs to others. This offense can include the transportation of drugs and the act of sharing drugs with others, even without an exchange of money. Distribution charges are generally more serious than drug dealing charges and may involve larger quantities of drugs or multiple transactions.

Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is the most severe of the three offenses and involves the large-scale transportation and distribution of illegal drugs. This offense is often associated with the movement of drugs across state or international borders. Trafficking charges typically involve significant quantities of drugs and may result in lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. More than 96% of those facing trafficking charges in 2022 received prison sentences.

Understanding the differences between drug dealing, drug distribution and drug trafficking is important for anyone facing drug-related charges. If you or someone you know is facing drug-related charges, it is important to work with an experienced attorney. Check out our page on drug charge defense for more information.


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