DC Cocaine Penalties

Under DC law, cocaine is not legally considered distinct from other Schedule I drugs such as heroin, PCP, methamphetamines, or other drugs considered more addictive or dangerous drugs. Further, possessing cocaine or any other Schedule I with the intent to distribute is always a felony under DC law. Because of that, the DC cocaine penalties for even a first-time offense can be harsh.

Anyone facing charges for either possessing or distributing cocaine should take steps to protect themselves and their rights. This makes contacting an experienced drug lawyer who understands the potential penalties and can help fight these allegations essential.

Penalties for Possessing Cocaine

There are no mandatory minimum penalties for simple possession of cocaine. That means a judge who is sentencing a someone convicted of the charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine or distribution of cocaine is not required by law to impose a certain minimum level jail sentence. However, a person convicted on charges of possession of cocaine could receive a maximum penalty of up to 180 days in jail, fines up to $1,000, or both and should also expect to have to pay a required court fee of $50 to $250.

However, it is relatively rare for someone charged with possession of cocaine to receive the maximum possible penalty. Instead, arguments could be made for why the maximum penalty is too harsh, and a lesser penalty is more appropriate for an individual’s situation. That could include shorter jail sentences, probation with no jail time, or treatment programs.

What are the Consequences for Distribution Charges?

As it is a felony charge, a person found guilty of distribution of cocaine, may receive up to 30 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release, and fines up to $75,000. Even though a person can legally receive up to the maximum penalty, judges follow the District of Columbia Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines to determine possible penalties that are appropriate for a specific situation.

The sentencing guidelines for most individuals are usually lower than the legal maximum penalty. For example, a person with no prior criminal history faces a recommended sentencing range between six and 18 months in jail as opposed to the maximum of 30 years in prison. The voluntary sentencing guidelines also allow a judge to suspend any portion of that sentence. This means that, instead of serving jail time, a person could be eligible for probation.

The voluntary sentencing guidelines are complicated and take several factors into consideration. Therefore, it is essential to discuss the sentencing ranges someone may be eligible for under the guidelines with an experienced attorney.

Discuss DC Cocaine Penalties With a Qualified Attorney

Although there are maximum sentences for DC cocaine penalties, judges have a lot of discretion in sentencing. Because of that, it is important to discuss the details of your unique situation with an attorney who understands what specific factors may influence the penalties you could be fighting. An attorney can further work to find and execute a defense strategy to fight the charges you are facing. To get started, call today for a free consultation.