Drug trafficking is a severe crime in Louisiana that can lead to imprisonment at hard labor for 2-30 years, along with fines that can be as high as $150,000. This includes the trafficking of marijuana, which has largely been decriminalized for possession and recreational use. Note that marijuana use and possession are still serious crimes at the federal level. The key difference between use/possession and trafficking is the quantity of the drugs involved and what is being done with those drugs. If you are found by the police in possession of small quantities, this will generally lead to charges involving use/possession. Larger quantities may lead to charges of trafficking since individuals generally don't consume large amounts of marijuana for personal use. Trafficking is also commonly called "intent to distribute." The same trafficking laws may be used regardless of the drugs involved. As noted, you can be charged with trafficking in marijuana as well as many other controlled substances such as cocaine, heroine, "meth," various types of steroids, LSD, ecstasy, etc.
In terms of proof, the old Louisiana laws have been strengthened, so the prosecution now has only two legal elements to prove: possession of certain quantities of the controlled substance and intent to distribute. In other words, the prosecution does NOT have to prove that you exchanged a bag or container of drugs for money.
To prove possession, generally, the Louisiana prosecuting attorneys need only prove physical possession. For example, if you are stopped, and the police find a sufficient quantity of controlled substances in your pockets, that fact alone, absent extenuating circumstances, is likely sufficient proof of the first element. However, constructive possession can also be proven. For example, if the police "raid" your house, and there is a large quantity of drugs on your dining room table, that fact may be deemed, at least, constructive possession.
Proof of intent to distribute can be shown with many types of evidence. These might include
With respect to drug trafficking, some criminal defenses are rarely useful or applicable to the facts. These include common Louisiana criminal defenses like alibi, misidentification/wrong person, self-defense, defense of others, incapacity, etc. More common to drug trafficking cases are constitutional rights-related defenses, procedural defenses, evidentiary challenges, and directly attacking the sufficiency of the evidence (particularly concerning the alleged evidence of intent). For example, if the drugs were discovered during a traffic stop, an argument can be raised about the lawfulness of the stop and subsequent search. If the drugs were discovered after a "stop and frisk," was the stop lawful and, just as important, was the "frisk" lawful? If the drugs were discovered after a "raid," the question arises whether the "raid" was lawful. If a warrant was issued for the "raid," was the warrant properly issued? Depending on the facts, there may be other constitutional challenges. Procedurally, there may be challenges to the chain of custody, lab reports, etc. These will "go to" the validity of the evidence of the drugs themselves.
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