How cocaine-related offenses are punished in Connecticut

New York has long been the breeding ground for illicit drug business. In an effort to combat its image as an enabler of the illicit drug trade, it's implemented strict penalties for drug-related offenses in the last few years. As punishments for drug crimes have become more serious in New York, a significant portion of the drug trade has moved just north into Connecticut.

As a response, state legislators here have also adopted more serious penalties for those who commit drug crimes, especially ones that involve the consumption, distribution or trafficking of cocaine.Sections 240, 243 and 278 of Connecticut code 21a spell out some of the penalties that are associated with the possession or sale of cocaine in the state.

When a defendant is convicted for the first time for possessing the illicit drug, in either the powder or rock form, then he or she is subject to either a minimum fine of $50,000 alone or in conjunction with a seven-year sentence. A second conviction for possession of cocaine in the state carries a minimum 15-year sentence and a potential $100,000 fine as well. A third cocaine possession arrest may be punished with a sentence of 25 years or more. The defendant may also be fined as much as $250,000.

A defendant charged with selling at least 1 ounce of cocaine faces at least a $50,000 fine, 15 years in prison or the combination thereof. Any subsequent convictions for the same may result in the defendant facing as long as 10 to 25 additional years in prison.

Judges can choose to ignore all state minimum sentences if it's deemed that the defendant sold the drug to either a minor or someone with diminished mental abilities. Additionally, any defendant that engages in selling cocaine within a 1,000-foot radius of a school faces a mandatory three-year additional sentence.

The possession and sale of cocaine is a felony in Connecticut and in the eyes of the federal government as well. Sentences handed down in cases such as this depend greatly on the amount of the drug possessed, how many prior convictions the defendant has and other circumstances surrounding an individual's arrest. If you've been charged with a drug-related offense, then a Windham, Connecticut, criminal defense attorney can advise you of your legal rights in your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Connecticut cocaine laws," accessed Oct. 20, 2017