The South American plant known as erythroxylon is the source of powder cocaine. The alkaloid gleaned from the plant can be transmitted into many different kinds of drug sources such as paste, powder cocaine, or base cocaine. In the United States, people tend to ingest the drug as either as powder cocaine or in a hard “rock” form known as crack cocaine.

How Is Powder Cocaine Different from Crack Cocaine?

Powder cocaine is a fine, grainy white substance that is often snorted through the nose. It can also be diluted into a liquid and injected into the bloodstream. Crack cocaine is made by taking powder cocaine and mixing it with water and baking soda, then hardening and solidifying it. It is then smoked out of a pipe.

Crack cocaine’s effects are shorter than powder cocaine’s, but both are powerfully addictive drugs that increase stimulation and euphoria feelings in the user. Using, possessing, or selling crack cocaine and powder cocaine is a crime with serious penalties if convicted.

In 2010, revisions were made to mandatory sentences established by the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act adopted by Congress. These revisions reduced sentences in some cases, particularly in the case of possession of five grams of crack cocaine and for the amount needed to convict for federal drug trafficking charges.

Which Crimes Are Caused by Powder Cocaine?

Both low-level street crime and serious violent crimes are associated with the use of powder cocaine, as well as crime related to the making and selling of the drug. It is very addictive, and users will resort to theft, pickpocketing, mugging, or armed robbery to obtain money to secure more supply.

Because the drug produces feelings of increased stimulation and grandiosity, it is also linked with more serious violent crimes including murder, rape, and aggravated assault by individuals under its influence.

The law distinguishes between simple possession and constructive possession. With simple possession, the substance is found on the person or in a pocket or purse. With constructive possession, possession is assumed if the substance is found somewhere the person has control over such as a property, vehicle or business. Constructive possession is significant because defendants can be convicted of cocaine possession based on constructive possession alone.

Sentencing can be very severe for drug charges related to powder cocaine, even for first offenses. Mandatory minimum sentences exist for powder cocaine sentences and these increase with each subsequent offense. This means even federal judges do not have discretion in choosing a sentence for a person convicted of using, buying, or selling powder cocaine.

Are There Any Defenses If I’m Charged With a Powder Cocaine Crime?

Defenses for powder cocaine charges will be dependent on the nature of the arrest and conviction. Two common defenses to drug charges are lack of knowledge and lack of intent to control. These can be used if someone else planted or left the drug in the possession of the person being charged, or if the person can prove they had no plan to use or distribute the drug.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

It is imperative to seek legal help immediately if you have been charged or think you will be charged with possession, use, or distribution of power cocaine. A criminal defense lawyer specializing in possession and sales charges will advise you of your best options and represent you in court.