What Are the Penalties for Drug Trafficking in Utah?

Person in handcuffs with drug trafficking charges

09 Oct 2023 /

What Are the Penalties for Drug Trafficking in Utah?

Drug Trafficking in Utah

Drug trafficking is a serious felony charge in Utah that carries strict penalties. Utah has some of the harshest drug laws in the nation. If you are facing drug trafficking charges, it is critical to understand the potential consequences and seek experienced legal representation immediately.

Our team of criminal defense attorneys at Gravis Law has years of experience navigating drug trafficking charges, and helping clients receive the best possible outcomes. Call our team of hardworking and dedicated lawyers today at 385.213.2798 for your free consultation.

Overview of Utah Drug Trafficking Laws

Utah statute 58-37-8 outlines the penalties for drug trafficking offenses. The penalties vary based on the type and amount of controlled substance involved. The minimum charges and sentences are:

  • Trafficking marijuana – 1 to 15 years in prison

  • Trafficking heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD – 3 years to life in prison

  • Trafficking Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) – 5 years to life in prison

The threshold amounts to trigger a drug trafficking charge in Utah are low compared to other states. For example, possessing just 2 grams of heroin or methamphetamine constitutes drug trafficking.

Factors that Increase Penalties

Several factors can increase the penalties for a Utah drug trafficking conviction:

Prior Convictions

  • A prior conviction for drug distribution or trafficking will make the current charge a first degree felony with 5 years to life imprisonment.

  • Two or more prior felony drug convictions trigger a 10 year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Drug Free Zones

If the offense occurred within 1,000 feet of a school, park, church, shopping mall, sports facility, movie theater, or on a public transit vehicle, the prison time and fines double.

Amount and Type of Drugs

Larger amounts of controlled substances lead to more serious charges and longer sentences:

  • Over 100 lbs of marijuana – 5 years to life

  • Between 10-100 lbs of marijuana – 3 years to life

  • More than 10 grams of heroin, meth, or cocaine – 5 years to life

  • More than 500 grams of heroin, meth, or cocaine – 10 years to life

Firearm Possession

Having a firearm during drug trafficking adds a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence.

Penalties and Sentencing Guidelines

Utah utilizes sentencing guidelines that provide a range of years based on the severity of the trafficking charge and the defendant’s criminal history. A first degree felony drug trafficking conviction has a sentencing range of 5 years to life in prison. Second degree felonies carry 1-15 years.

In addition to imprisonment, drug trafficking convictions also carry substantial fines. First degree felony fines can be up to $10,000, while second degree felonies fines max out at $5,000.

Aggravating Factors

Judges can give harsher sentences than the guidelines recommend if they find aggravating factors such as:

  • Major health and safety concerns

  • Sophisticated criminal enterprise

  • Previous failed rehab attempts

  • Lack of remorse

Mitigating Factors

Lighter sentences may be justified by mitigating factors like:

  • Minimal criminal record

  • Proof of addiction

  • Cooperation with police

  • Genuine remorse

Experienced Utah drug trafficking lawyers thoroughly investigate mitigating circumstances to advocate for lesser charges and sentences whenever possible.

Other Consequences

Beyond incarceration and fines, a drug trafficking conviction also leads to:

  • Felony record

  • Loss of voting rights

  • Loss of gun rights

  • Driver’s license suspension

  • Deportation for non-citizens

  • Barred from many professional licenses

  • Public housing eviction

  • Difficulty finding employment

Utah’s Zero Drug Tolerance law also mandates at least 6 months of drug treatment.

Defenses Against Drug Trafficking Charges

Skilled Utah criminal defense attorneys may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed by challenging the prosecution’s evidence and raising strong legal defenses such as:

  • Illegal search and seizure

  • Entrapment

  • Mistaken identity

  • Lacked intent to distribute

  • Self-medication for chronic pain

An experienced lawyer thoroughly examines the facts of your case to determine the best defense strategy. Do not hesitate to act to protect your future.

FAQs About Utah Drug Trafficking Penalties

1. What are common sentences for drug trafficking in Utah?

5 years to life in prison is the common sentencing range for first degree felony drug trafficking convictions in Utah. Prior drug felonies and other enhancements can add years.

2. What amount of drugs qualifies as trafficking in Utah?

Just 2 grams of heroin, meth, or cocaine triggers a minimum 3 years in prison for drug trafficking. Higher weights lead to more serious charges.

3. Is drug trafficking a felony in Utah?

Yes, all drug trafficking charges in Utah are felonies, ranging from second degree to first degree. Penalties start at 1 year in prison.

4. What should I do if charged with drug trafficking?

Immediately retain an experienced Utah drug crimes lawyer to advise you of your rights, build a strong defense, and try to get the charges reduced or dismissed.

5. How can a drug trafficking lawyer help me?

A skilled attorney identifies weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, raises strong legal defenses, negotiates for lesser charges, and argues for the lowest possible sentence. This can make a huge difference in the outcome.

Opting for the Right Criminal Defense Attorney 

Utah has some of the nation’s toughest penalties for drug trafficking offenses. Even small amounts can lead to years in prison. However, an aggressive criminal defense lawyer can often get charges reduced and minimize sentencing. 

Do not delay in seeking highly experienced legal counsel if you or a loved one is facing drug trafficking allegations in Utah. Time is of the essence, call our experienced attorneys at Gravis Law today at 385.213.2798

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