Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. It produces short-term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness in addition to potentially dangerous physical effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure. The District of Columbia, along with all 50 states, has laws against both possession and sales of cocaine.
District of Columbia Cocaine Laws
In general, for first-time offenders, D.C.criminal law has a special provision that is considered “probation before judgment.” The law permits a judge to sentence an individual to probation without entering a judgment when it is that person’s first drug-related conviction.
Why is this important? Because if the person completes probation successfully at the end of the probation, the Court seals the arrest record and case.
Is Probation Before Judgment Mandatory?
No, it is completely within the judge’s discretion to sentence someone to probation before judgment and the person must have no prior drug-related convictions in any jurisdiction.
If the defendant violates any condition of the probation, the court may enter a guilty finding and proceed with sentencing.
As with other illegal drugs, cocaine is regulated at both the state and federal level. Federal drug laws restrict everything from mere cocaine possession all the way up to trafficking and distribution as well as manufacturing and cultivation. Convictions for drug offenses in general, and cocaine specifically, can carry severe penalties, depending on whether the defendant has prior drug convictions and the quantity of drugs involved.
Charges and penalties under D.C.'s cocaine laws are listed in the following column. See FindLaw's Drug Charges section for more articles and resources.
||48-901.02 et seq., 48-904.01 et seq.
||Simple possession is a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty for a first-time conviction of 180 days on incarceration and a $1000 fine.The maximum penalty for a second or subsequent conviction would be double that.
The distribution, or possession with the intent to distribute is punishable by a period of incarceration of up to 30 years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both.
Note: State drug laws are constantly changing -- contact a D.C. drug crime attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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District of Columbia Cocaine Laws: Related Resources