A Look at Possession of and Dealing in Cocaine

A Quick and Concise Guide to Possession of and Dealing in Cocaine:

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Most people are at least somewhat familiar with cocaine, and you have likely seen the movie Blow or an episode of Drugs, Inc. documenting the drug trade and the use of cocaine.  Cocaine use is dropping, especially compared to drugs like marijuana, but it is still prevalent and still makes billions of dollars a year for the drug cartels who supply it.  After all, the cocaine trade is responsible for a substantial portion of development in Miami in the 1970s and 1980s. In this blog the Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower take a closer look at dealing and possession of cocaine.
While you probably don’t know a cocaine kingpin, you may know someone who uses or sells cocaine.  Aside from the health risks, severe penal consequences can attach to the possession or sale of cocaine.  As explained below, and as espoused in Indiana Code 35-48-4, the possession or distribution of cocaine puts one at risk of being charged with a felony ranging from Level 6 to Level 2.
Possession Offenses
Indiana law specifically prohibits the possession of cocaine without a valid medical or research-related reason for doing so.  One who possesses cocaine unlawfully faces a felony charge of varying degrees depending on attendant circumstances:

  •  Level 6 felony
    • Possession of less than 5 grams of cocaine
  • Level 5 felony
    • Possession of 5 to 10 grams of cocaine
    • Possession of 5 grams with an enhancing circumstance
  • Level 4 felony
    • Possession of 10 to 28 grams of cocaine
    • Possession of 5 to 10 grams with an enhancing circumstance
  • Level 3 felony
    • Possession of 28 or more grams of cocaine
    • Possession of 10 to 18 grams with an enhancing circumstance

So what is an enhancing circumstance?  Indiana law defines several, and they include:

  • having a prior conviction for dealing, attempting to deal, or conspiracy to deal in a controlled substance (not including marijuana, hashish, hash oil, salvia divinorum, or a synthetic drug)
  • possession of a firearm during commission of the offense
  • committing the offense on a school bus
  • committing the offense within 500 feet of school property or a public park where a person under 18 years of age was reasonably expected to be present
  • delivery or finance of delivery to a person under 18 years of age at least 3 years junior to the person
  • committing the offense in the physical presence of a child less than 18 knowing the child was present and may be able to see or hear the offense

Thus, if any of the foregoing circumstances apply to the possession, the felony possession charge can be elevated to a higher level.  As should be clear, mere possession of cocaine can have dire consequences for one who is charged.  However, dealing in cocaine can carry even more severe consequences.
Dealing Offenses
Likely not a surprise, dealing in cocaine will result in a higher charge than the mere possession of the same amount of cocaine.  The statute prohibiting dealing in cocaine criminalizes the manufacture, financing of manufacture, delivery, or financing of delivery of cocaine.  Additionally, one who possesses cocaine with the intent to commit one of these four acts may be convicted of dealing.  However, some other indicia of intent must exist in addition to the weight of the drug possessed before one may be convicted of possession with intent.
Charges for dealing (or possession with intent to deal) apply as follows:

  • Level 5 felony
    • Dealing less than 1 gram of cocaine
  • Level 4 felony
    • Dealing 1 to 5 grams of cocaine
    • Dealing less than 1 gram with an enhancing circumstance
  • Level 3 felony
    • Dealing 5 to 10 grams of cocaine
    • Dealing 1 to 5 grams with an enhancing circumstance
  • Level 2 felony
    • Dealing more 10 or more grams of cocaine
    • Dealing 5 to 10 grams with an enhancing circumstance

The same enhancing circumstances apply to dealing offenses as apply to possession offenses.
Possession of or dealing in cocaine (or possession with intent to deal) can lead to decades in prison for one who is charged and convicted.  Law enforcement spends a great deal of money to fight the war on drugs, and they stand to profit from successful prosecutions and related seizures of money and property.  Given the motivation of police and prosecutors and the potential consequences to the accused, the importance of an attorney in a situation with such high stakes cannot be overstated.
If someone you know is facing charges for possession of cocaine or dealing in cocaine, call the experienced Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorneys at Banks & Brower.  We are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 317-870-0019 or info@banksbrower.com.

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