Drug Possession: Distribution

21 U.S.C. § 841 (2005).

The Crime

Under section 841, it is, in most cases, a crime for any person to knowingly or intentionally

  • manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance; 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); or
  • create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance. Id. § 841(a)(2).

The Punishment

The four ranges for punishment are:

  • 10 years-life (20 to life, if death or serious injury results from the use of the substance, or if the defendant has a prior final felony drug conviction; life if death or serious bodily injury occurs from the use of such substance, and the defendant has a prior final felony conviction), a fine of up to $4 million (up to $8 million if the defendant has a prior final felony conviction), or both. If the defendant has two prior final felony drug convictions, the defendant will be sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment. 21 U.S.C § 841(b)(1)(A).
  • 5-40 years (20 to life if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of the substance; 10-life if the defendant has a prior final felony drug conviction, and mandatory life in such circumstances if death or serious bodily injury occurs), a fine of up to $2 million (up to $4 million if the defendant has a prior final felony conviction), or both. Id. § 841(b)(1)(B).
  • 0-20 years (20 to life if death or serious bodily injury results from the use of the substance; 0-30 if the defendant has a prior final felony drug conviction), a fine of up to $1 million (up to $2 million if the defendant has prior final felony drug conviction), or both. Id. § 841(b)(1)(C).
  • 0-5 years (0-10 if the defendant has a prior final felony drug conviction), a fine of up to $250,000 (up to $500,000 if the defendant has a prior final felony drug conviction), or both. Id. § 841(b)(1)(D).