Possession with Intent to distribute drugs is a severe criminal charge that can have life-altering consequences if you are convicted. Due to the attempted “war on drugs” by Nebraska law enforcement, Nebraska tends to have some of the harshest penalties for drug-related charges in the nation. Understanding Lincoln intent to distribute penalties is important. If you are facing changes, a dedicated intent to distribute attorney can help you understand the consequences and create a plan to avoid them.
Laws Governing Intent to Distribute
It is widely known that selling or distributing drugs is illegal across the United States. This holds true in Nebraska as well. According to Nebraska Revised Statute 28-416:
“Except as authorized by the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally: (a) To manufacture, distribute, deliver, dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, deliver, or dispense a controlled substance; or (b) to create, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a counterfeit controlled substance”
The statute clearly states that intent to distribute a controlled substance is illegal. In fact, the statute even notes that attempting to distribute a counterfeit controlled substance is illegal as well. So, you may be charged with intent to distribute even if you were never in possession of a controlled substance. Criminal charges for attempting to distribute drugs are felonies with harsh penalties. The punishments for distributing drugs depend on a variety of factors, including the:
- Type of Drug
- Amount of the Drug
- Location of sale
- Age of the individual receiving the drugs
- Number of prior criminal convictions
Determining the Punishment for a Conviction in Lincoln
As previously mentioned, a variety of factors play a part in determining the classification and ultimately the penalty of a possession with intent to distribute charge. Most often, the first item to look at when determining the severity of any drug-related charge is the classification of the drug(s)—known as the schedule.
Understanding Drug Scheduling
Drug schedules are classifications that categorize the drugs into different tiers based on it’s acceptable medical use and the potential for users to become dependent upon or abuse the drug. They are categorized on a scale of one to five depending on how dangerous they are. Schedule I drugs represent the most dangerous drugs while Schedule V represents the least dangerous. Some examples of common drugs and their classification include:
Schedule I Drugs – heroin, LSD, marijuana, and ecstasy
Schedule II Drugs – cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone, and Adderall
Schedule III Drugs – codeine, steroids, and ketamine
Schedule IV Drugs – Xanax, Tramadol, and Ambien
Schedule V Drugs – Lomotil, Robitussin, and cough preparations with less than 200mg of codeine for every 100mL/100g
Law enforcement also uses this scheduling mechanism to help determine the penalty for criminal convictions relating to each drug. Obviously, the crimes relating to more dangerous drugs will have more severe penalties.
Drug Schedule and the Resulting Penalty
Determining the resulting penalty of an intent to distribute a controlled substance charge with respect to the drug’s schedule can be confusing. With that in mind, the penalties are as follows:
- Any individual facing possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance classified as Schedule I, II, or III substance under Nebraska Revised Statute 28-405 (which is an exceptionally hazardous drug) will be charged with a Class II felony. A Class II felony is punishable by 1-50 years imprisonment.
- Any individual facing possession with intent to distribute any other controlled substance classified as Schedule I, II, or III will be charged with a Class IIA felony. A Class IIA felony is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.
- Any individual facing possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance classified as Schedule IV or V will be charged with a Class IIIA felony. A Class IIIA felony is punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
There are certain exceptions for these penalties, specifically exceptions for cocaine, base cocaine (crack), heroin, and amphetamines. It is important that you consult with an experienced Nebraska drug lawyer to determine the exact punishments you are facing.
Amount of Drug and the Resulting Penalty
The type of drug is not the only factor that influences an intent to distribute charge in Lincoln. The amount of drug you are in possession of during arrest also plays a role. The larger the quantity of drugs, the more severe the penalty will be. For example, an individual charged with intent to distribute 10-28 grams of cocaine will be facing a Class ID felony. A Class ID felony is punishable by a mandatory minimum of three years imprisonment and a possible penalty of up to fifty years. On the other hand, an individual charged with intent to distribute 140+ grams of cocaine will face a Class IB felony. A Class IB felony is punishable by 20 years to life in prison. The quantity of drug(s) plays a large role in determining the severity of criminal charges related to drug distribution.
Location of Drug Crime and Penalty
Another factor that can impact the penalty for a drug-related charge is the location of the sale/arrest. Any individual charged with possession with intent to distribute in, on, or within:
1,000 feet of a
- Public or private elementary, vocation, or secondary school
- Public or private college, community college, junior college, or university
Or within 100 feet of a
- Public or private youth center
- Swimming pool
- Video arcade facility
shall be punished by the next higher penalty classification than the penalty previously prescribed.
Age of Individual Receiving Drug’s Impact on Consequences
Age is also a factor that can alter the possible penalty for an intent to distribute charge. More specifically, the age of the individual buying the drug(s) can have major implications on the resulting charges. In Lincoln, if any person 18 years of age or older knowingly or intentionally distributes a controlled substance or a counterfeit controlled substance to a person under the age of 18, they will be punished by the next higher penalty classification than the penalty previously prescribed. The resulting penalty will still be in effect even if the individual believed the person purchasing the drug(s) was 18 years of age or older.
Prior Criminal Conviction’s Impact on Intent to Distribute Penalty
A prior criminal conviction will often lead to sentence enhancements for a criminal conviction. This is the case with intent to distribute charges as well. If an individual with multiple criminal charges is charged intent to distribute, they may face more serious criminal charges due to being labeled a “habitual criminal.” More specifically, an individual charged with a second or third offense intent to distribute conviction will face more severe penalties than first-time offenders.
An Attorney Can Discuss Lincoln Intent to Distribute Penalties
If you have been charged with intent to distribute a drug, you may be in the most important battle of your life. You will be facing severe punishments due to Nebraska law enforcement’s attempted “war on drugs.” There are a variety of different factors that can impact the severity of Lincoln intent to distribute charge penalties, including the type of drug, the location of the sale, the age of the individual receiving the drugs, and the number of prior criminal convictions. It is very important that you consult with an experienced lawyer to ensure that your rights and your future are protected. Contact Berry Law today to schedule a confidential consultation.