Drug trafficking through Oklahoma has become a serious problem for the state, and highway patrol officers and local law enforcement use highway interdiction techniques to try to eradicate trafficking in Oklahoma.
However, the state’s tactic s have not always been ethical, and some people may have their cash or property illegally confiscated during a traffic stop for suspected trafficking.
There are a number of defense strategies available to those who have been stopped, searched for drugs, and arrested on a drug trafficking complaint. An illegal traffic stop or a search without a warrant or consent could result in the suppression of evidence. Improper police tactics could help lead to the dismissal of your case.
If you are stopped or questioned, it is important to remember that you should not answer police questions, nor should you consent to a search. Instead, contact a defense attorney as quickly as possible.
While a person can be charged with drug distribution of any amount of drug, the possession or transportation of specified quantities of a controlled substance will be charged as trafficking.
With I-35 traversing Oklahoma from north to south, and I-40 from east to west, the state is in a major drug trafficking route. If you are travelling through the state and you have possession of a certain amount of illegal drugs or prescription medication, you may face drug trafficking charges in Oklahoma.
Originally, the state’s trafficking laws only applied to illegal drugs:
Recently, however, the law was amended to include drug trafficking charges for possession of certain quantities of prescription drugs. These quantities apply to a mixture containing a detectable amount of the drug, and not the drug itself.
Prescription drug abuse has reached almost epidemic proportions in Oklahoma and around the nation. In fact, drug overdose rivals motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, and in some years, drug overdose has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death. By cracking down on prescription drug trafficking, the state hopes to reduce the rate of drug abuse and addiction.
Penalties for drug trafficking vary depending on the type and quantity of the drug involved, but the consequences include twice the sentence imposed for drug distribution. In other words, drug trafficking carries a mandatory minimum of 4 to 10 years in prison with a possible life sentence. It is also punishable by a fine of up to $500,000.
A second drug trafficking conviction brings a sentence of three times that imposed for distribution, and a third drug trafficking conviction is punishable by life without parole.
While each the Oklahoma drug trafficking statute is triggered by possession of a specified quantity of drugs, the penalties are enhanced for possessing certain quantities in excess of the minimum.
For example, possession of 25 pounds of marijuana is drug trafficking, which brings a fine of $25,000 to $100,000 and a prison sentence of two years to life in prison. Possession of 1,000 pounds or more of a mixture containing marijuana, on the other hand, is aggravated trafficking. It carries a fine of $100,000 to $500,000. Aggravated drug trafficking has a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison; it is an “85 Percent Crime” that requires a person to serve at least 85 percent of his or her sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
In order to take the profit out of drug sales and to eliminate the funding used to further drug distribution, the state government allows the seizure and forfeiture of any drug proceeds, including property allegedly purchased with drug money. For family members of people convicted of distributing or trafficking illegal drugs, this can be extraordinarily difficult if a home or other property is considered to be “drug proceeds” and subject to asset seizure.
The Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act in 63 O.S. § 2-503 explicitly states which items are considered “drug proceeds” subject to forfeiture:
In order to convict a person of possessing or receiving drug proceeds, the prosecutor must prove the several elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
In some cases, a spouse or parent may not be aware that drugs are being stored in the home or that the family’s new car was bought with drug money. However, it can be difficult to fight against allegations that you knew your loved one was involved in illegal activity.
Contact an experienced defense lawyer for more information and for help retaining assets which may be subject to forfeiture.