Are Cuban Cigars Illegal?

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 What Are Drug Crimes?

All fifty states, as well as the federal government, have enacted laws which address the possession, use, manufacture, and sale of specific drugs. Each crime has its own standards and results in different penalties, especially in terms of the severity of the crime that was committed.

Some of the most common examples of drug crimes include offenses such as:

  • Possession: Drug possession is the most common offense in terms of drug crimes. Drug possession charges generally arise when a person is knowingly in possession of a drug without authorization, such as when a person has a drug without a valid prescription. Drug possession charges generally consider the amount of the drug, and penalties may vary according to whether the amount is for personal use or for sale and distribution;
  • Manufacturing: Drug manufacturing generally involves creating or “cooking” a synthetic chemical substance, or extracting a natural drug. Packaging a drug for resale could also constitute manufacturing charges;
  • Use: Just the use of illegal drugs can be considered a criminal act, especially in cases in which the drug requires a prescription from a doctor and the offender does not have the required prescription; and
  • Distribution: This specific type of drug crime includes the sale, smuggling, trafficking, and/or delivery of illegal substances.

Drug crimes can also include offenses such as drug trafficking, which is largely dependent on the amount of drugs involved, as well as the type of drug involved.

In general, a controlled substance is a drug that is regulated by the government. These are substances which can have a detrimental effect on a person’s health and welfare, and as such are strictly controlled by government regulation. The Controlled Substances Act divides up different classes of drugs into five schedules, which are based on:

  • Medicinal value;
  • Potential for abuse;
  • Safety to the public; and
  • Likelihood for dependency. Controlled substances include both legal and illegal drugs.

In both the federal and state systems, most cases of drug crimes come from charges of drug possession, manufacturing, or trafficking. Punishments for federal offenses are generally more severe than those for state charges. However, it is important to note that each state has its own rules concerning drug crimes, as well as how they are punished.

Punishments are generally based on the following factors:

  • The Type Of Drug: The more dangerous the drug is considered to be, the more severe the punishment. An example of this would be how possessing heroin would result in a more severe punishment than possessing cannabis;
  • The Amount Of Drug: Especially large quantities of drugs may indicate that the drug was intended for distribution, and not for personal use;
  • Purpose of Possession: This refers to whether the drug was intended for personal use, or for sale and distribution;
  • Prior Convictions: An offender’s prior convictions can be factored into sentencing; and
  • Probation or Parole Status: If an offender is on probation when they are convicted of a drug crime, they may have their probation revoked.

Because punishments for drug crimes can vary from state to state, the following are some general examples:

  • Imprisonment;
  • Probation;
  • Fines;
  • Court-ordered counseling;
  • Community service; and/or
  • Loss of child custody or visitation rights.

Is Importing Cuban Cigars Illegal? Would Importing Cuban Cigars Be Considered A Drug Crime?

As of October 17, 2016, the purchase or possession of Cuban cigars in the United States have become legal. As such, these cigars can be imported, but only for personal use. However, commercial importation of Cuban cigars into the United States remains illegal.

It is important to note that there are limitations placed on how many cigars you can bring back from Cuba into the U.S. Travelers who are coming into the United States can bring up to $800 in cigars into the U.S from Cuba without paying a duty. This would be whether the cigars are Cuban, Dominican, Nicaraguan, or from another country. This can be done once every 31 days; amounts above that will be taxed.

In short, you may import Cuban cigars into the United States for personal use, from any third-party country as of October 17, 2016. To reiterate, when you import Cuban cigars into the United States, you can only do so for personal use and not for commercial resale. You may bring Cuban cigars into the United States and give them to your friends and family as gifts, but never in exchange for a profit or money.

What Are The Legal Penalties For Cuban Cigar Crimes?

Penalties for Cuban cigar violations can result in consequences that are similar to or more serious than those associated with possession of paraphernalia charges, which will be further discussed below. The penalties for illegally:

  • Importing;
  • Buying;
  • Selling;
  • Trading;
  • Giving away; and/or
  • Otherwise engaging in transactions associated with illegally imported Cuban cigars will result in confiscation. You could face civil fines of up to $50,000, as well as a criminal trial that could result in a considerable amount of jail time.

What Should I Know About Drug Paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia can be used to refer to any type of:

  • Accessory;
  • Equipment; or product that helps a person either to:
  • Make;
  • Hide;
  • Take; and/or
  • Transport illegal drugs.

The overall issue with drug paraphernalia is that not all of it is illegal on its own. Drug paraphernalia generally only becomes illegal once it is used for an illegal purpose. An example of this would be how many head shops or convenience stores sell rolling papers which were traditionally used by a person to roll their own cigarettes. However, their purpose has been transformed into a way to roll joints.

As such, if a person is found to be in possession of some type of drug paraphernalia, it does not necessarily mean that they are violating any laws. As long as they are not doing anything illegal with it, they will most likely not be in any legal trouble.

However, there are some kinds of drug paraphernalia that are considered to be illegal based on the equipment itself. An example of this would be how possession of heroin needles immediately violates the law, regardless of whether any traces of the drug can be found in it.

There are also some states that ban all drug paraphernalia products. If you are found in possession of a pipe or a bong in the state of Wisconsin, you can face legal penalties such as fines of up to $500 and a jail sentence. If the charges lead to a conviction, it will appear on your criminal record.

Whether drugs were found on the drug paraphernalia, what type of drug it was, and how the product was used can influence the punishment that a person receives for a conviction. Other factors include:

  • Whether the crime is being charged as a federal or state drug crime, or both;
  • The location where the crime occurred; and
  • Whether the individual is a repeat offender.

In general, possession of drug paraphernalia is considered to be a misdemeanor. Fines will generally not exceed $2,500 and any jail sentence imposed will not be longer than one year. However, if the crime took place near a school or playground, or if the defendant was a repeat offender, they will face higher penalties. In such cases the misdemeanor will rise to the level of a felony, which is a much more serious offense to have on a criminal record.

Do I Need a Lawyer For Cuban Cigar Violations?

You should hire a drug lawyer if you are facing charges associated with Cuban cigar violations and need legal representation.

Your attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific laws, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.

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