man holding case of drugs and looking at cell phone

What You Should Expect After Being Charged with Drug Trafficking

After being arrested for drug trafficking, you likely have many questions and concerns. Our attorney Jeff Manciagli has put together some of the most important information to know for the days and weeks following your arrest.

Is Drug Trafficking a State or Federal Charge?

Drug trafficking cases can be brought by both the state or federal government. 

It is not uncommon for drug trafficking to be a federal charge. This is because drug trafficking often involves crossing state or national borders while in possession of an illicit substance or multiple substances. This intrastate or international transport of drugs is a violation of federal law and, therefore, can be handled by the federal courts.

Federal drug trafficking penalties will vary based on the type and quantity of the substance being trafficked as well as the other circumstances of the offense. For example, penalties for marijuana trafficking will be less severe than for the trafficking of heroin in the same amount.

If charged with federal drug trafficking, you face:

  • Five years to life imprisonment
  • Up to $5 million in fines, or up to $10 million if you have a prior record of trafficking
  • Probation

If you are prosecuted by the state, you will face felony drug trafficking charges. In general, the potential penalties for a felony charge are less severe than for a federal offense. However, this is not always the case. In Georgia, the offense of trafficking 400 grams or more of cocaine or methamphetamine carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years. It’s always important to work with a defense attorney to fight your charge, whether state or federal.

Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentence

It’s common for individuals convicted of federal drug crimes to serve mandatory minimum prison sentences. However, there are some exceptions to this.

The safety valve exemption allows for individuals to serve less than the mandatory minimum sentence if they meet specific criteria. In general, they must be nonviolent offenders with a minimal prior criminal record.

Defenses for Drug Trafficking

After you have established what type of trafficking charge you are up against, it’s time to begin thinking about defense strategies that could fit your case.

Some common defenses for drug trafficking include:

  • Motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence
  • Lack of probable cause for arrest
  • Lack of intent to commit a crime
  • Lack of knowledge that you were committing a crime
  • Denial of possession
  • Entrapment

Potential Drug Trafficking Case Outcomes

Your drug trafficking case could conclude in a variety of ways.

Case Dismissed

This is an ideal situation. Your case and charges may be dismissed if there is evidence that:

  • There was no probable cause for arrest
  • You were the victim of an illegal search
  • There is a general lack of evidence

If it becomes clear that the prosecutors will not win the case against you, they may dismiss the charges in order to save time and money.

Plea Bargaining

You and your attorney may discuss the option of a plea bargain. A plea bargain is when the prosecutors offer the defendant a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea and the agreement to waive a trial. You may end up accepting a plea bargain if it seems to be the best possible outcome for your case.


If convicted, you may face the penalties listed above. The best way to avoid this outcome is to work with an experienced drug trafficking defense attorney who understands these complex cases and can be an aggressive advocate on your behalf.

Atlanta Drug Trafficking Defense Attorney

If you’ve recently been arrested for drug trafficking, contact a defense attorney right away. Our attorney at Law Office of Jeff Manciagli is ready to take your call and provide the aggressive legal representation that you need. Our attorney has an impressive track record of success for drug trafficking cases; get started with him today and call (770) 884-4708.