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How Much Cocaine is a Felony? (2024 Felony Charges Explained)

The amount of cocaine that constitutes a felony varies depending on the jurisdiction and the laws in place. In the United States, federal and state laws establish different thresholds for what constitutes a felony offense related to cocaine possession, distribution, and trafficking.
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Does the Amount of Cocaine Determine Whether the Charge is a Felony?

According to SCLG, in many jurisdictions, no. Drug laws in most jurisdictions throughout the U.S. say that crimes involving cocaine are felony offenses (as opposed to misdemeanors). This is true regardless of the amount of cocaine involved [1].

Examples of cocaine-related drug offenses encompass activities such as drug possession, possession or purchase of a controlled substance for sale, and transporting or selling a controlled substance.

While the specific amount of cocaine might not influence whether a charge is categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony, it can impact the severity of the sentence imposed upon conviction.

For instance, Illinois laws concerning cocaine possession illustrate this concept. Generally, the quantity of cocaine found in an individual’s possession correlates with the severity of their potential prison sentence if found guilty.

Do Some States Use Cocaine Amounts to Determine How a Charge is Filed?

For instance, according to New York’s cocaine laws, possessing less than 500 milligrams of cocaine results in a Class A misdemeanor charge, carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail.

However, as the quantity of cocaine in one’s possession escalates, the offense transitions into a felony with heightened penalties.

Consider the following examples:

  • Possessing 500 milligrams or more of cocaine can lead to a prison sentence of up to seven years.
  • Possessing at least 1/8 of an ounce of cocaine carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
  • Possessing at least 1/2 of an ounce of cocaine may result in a sentence of up to 25 years in prison.
  • Possessing at least 4 ounces of cocaine can lead to a sentence of life imprisonment.

Understanding the thresholds and penalties associated with varying quantities of cocaine is essential for individuals facing drug charges in jurisdictions where such laws apply.

What is Cocaine Distribution?

According to the Texas Criminal Defence Group, dispensing cocaine involves providing or transferring the substance to another individual. Participating in the sale or transfer of cocaine to any person can lead to a felony charge for cocaine distribution [2.].

The punishment for this crime depends on the amount of drugs involved in trafficking, selling, or delivering. The same way cocaine possession is punished. Upon conviction, the sentences can include imprisonment and substantial civil fines – Texas Criminal Defence Group

In numerous states, distributing less than one gram of cocaine and getting apprehended can result in serious criminal charges. A conviction for distributing cocaine in this amount may entail a prison term ranging from 180 days to two years. Additionally, fines of up to $10,000 may be imposed.

Selling one to four grams of cocaine typically incurs a second-degree felony charge. In many jurisdictions, being found guilty of distributing cocaine as a second-degree felony can lead to a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Selling cocaine to a minor under 17 years old also falls under the purview of a second-degree felony.

Cocaine Trafficking Statistics

  • 90.9% of crack cocaine trafficking offenders identified as male.
  • 77.1% of crack cocaine trafficking offenders were Black, 15.9% were Hispanic, 6.3% were White, and 0.7% were from other races.
  • The average age of crack cocaine trafficking offenders was 36 years.
  • 95.7% of crack cocaine trafficking offenders were United States citizens.
  • 19.6% of offenders had little or no prior criminal history (Criminal History Category I), while 13.6% were Career Offenders (§4B1.1).
  • The median Base Offense Level in these cases was 24, corresponding to between 28 and 112 grams of crack cocaine. Sentences were typically increased for:
  • Possessing a weapon (39.3%).
  • Holding a leadership or supervisory role in the offense (5.7%).

Sentences were typically decreased for:

  • Minor or minimal participation in the offense (4.1%).
  • Meeting the safety valve criteria in the sentencing guidelines (8.8%). The top five districts for crack cocaine trafficking offenders were:
  • Southern District of New York (84 cases).
  • Eastern District of North Carolina (59 cases).
  • District of Puerto Rico (41 cases).
  • Northern District of Texas (41 cases).

Source: United States Sentencing Commission (USSSC) [3].

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If you feel affected by any of these matters, contact our criminal defense attorney today.

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