Of all criminal offenses – state or federal – drug trafficking cases have some of the longest jail sentences.
Just ask Deauntee Q. Mosby. The 24-year old Springfield man recently pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to distribute 100 grams of heroin. Earlier this month, he was sentenced to 32 years in federal prison without parole.
What Happened to Send Mosby to Prison for More Than Three Decades?
The story begins when Mosby was stopped by Missouri police in 2013. The officers smelled marijuana in his car and proceeded to search the vehicle. What they found was even worse: a syringe of heroin, a scale, a firearm, and thousands of dollars in cash. In 2015, Mosby was stopped under similar circumstances. That time, they found 59.36 grams of heroin.
Someone doesn’t carry over 50 grams of heroin for personal use, and eventually Mosby was linked to six other individuals who were arrested together in Springfield. The heroin was bought in large quantities from Chicago and cities around Missouri, and other defendants in the case admitted that Mosby sold heroin to distributors throughout Missouri.
Mosby pled guilty in April 2016 and was the last of the seven defendants to be sentenced. He will most likely be behind bars until he is in his 50s.
State vs. Federal Drug Trafficking Cases
Three decades behind bars is quite a sentence, especially without the possibility of parole. That, however, is simply what consequences for drug crimes at the federal level are like. Unlike in Illinois, federal sentencing guidelines for drug trafficking include mandatory minimum sentences, and no federal charges come with the possibility of parole.
Additionally, Mosby not only had to contend with agencies like the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Springfield Police Department, but also the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. In federal court, prosecutors, state police, and federal agencies (like the DEA, FBI, IRS, and so on) can submit evidence. When you have the FBI against you, you are fighting a very different fight than when you just have local or state officials against you.
It also certainly didn’t help his case that Mosby had multiple offenses, that weapons were present, or that he was found with a fairly high amount of drugs.
Why was Mosby charged at the federal level? Easy: he went over the Illinois border. Had he only been caught moving or selling drugs within our state, he most likely would have ended up in a state court, facing the sentencing guidelines and consequences of Illinois.
Even if Mosby had been charged in a state court, though, it’s hard to tell exactly what his sentence would look like. With everything he had going against him, it may have ended up being quite similar to the penalties he is going to serve.
Regardless of whether you face charges levied by our state or the federal government, the consequences for drug trafficking vary based on the type and weight of drug that is involved, as well as other factors like past convictions, the use of weapons, and resulting deadly harm from your actions.
Let’s look at Mosby’s case specifically. One hundred grams of heroin were distributed. Heroin is considered one of the most serious drugs, and is associated with the strictest and longest penalties.
By Illinois standards, Mosby would be facing a Class X felony, with a recommended 9-40 years in prison. Again, without federal agencies and a different judge, it’s hard to tell if Mosby would have gotten 32 years behind bars at the state level. In theory, he could have gotten an even longer sentence.
One difference that would have been in his favor at the state level? He would have had at least the possibility of being eligible for parole.
Charged With Drug Trafficking? You Need to Contact a Lawyer
Whether you are charged with drug trafficking at the state or federal level, the consequences are incredibly serious. Despite rumors to the contrary, the War on Drugs is still raging on – and with our new administration, it doesn’t look like it’s going to die off anytime soon.
That being said, there’s still hope. There are ways to defend against drug trafficking charges and get them reduced – or even dropped or dismissed altogether.
Let’s go back to the beginning of this blog post. Police only found evidence against Mosby when they smelled marijuana and searched his car. If, for example, Mosby had not consented to the search, the police had pulled him over without a proper reason, or the police were involved in any other unlawful activity, the searches (and the evidence from them) may have been struck from the case.
That isn’t to say that Mosby should have been found innocent, but this hypothetical example is just one way to show that no individual should give up hope after an arrest or charge. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, the best thing you can do to protect your rights and future is to contact an Illinois criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.