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House Passes Bill to Toughen Penalties on Street-Level Drug Dealers

Staff Report
From the Office of Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama House of Representatives today passed Rep. Blaine Galliher’s (R-Gadsden) bill that will make it easier to prosecute street-level drug dealers by redefining the penalties for carrying significant amounts of illegal substances.

According to current state law, possession up to the amount of 28 grams of illegal substance like heroin or cocaine would be considered to be for personal use only, though Etowah County law enforcement officials testify that 28 grams is too excessive of an amount to be considered for personal use and is more commonly seen in street-level drug deal scenarios.  However, any individual caught with just less than 28 grams could only be prosecuted as a low-grade “Class C” offender, while anyone caught with over 28 grams would be classified as a “Class A” felon.

House Bill 376 would make it easier to prosecute street level dealers and would increase penalties for offenders by bridging the gap between a “Class C” offense and a “Class A” felony, making it a “Class B” felony to carry over 8 grams of illegal substance. Today, such offenders are typically placed under probation and released back onto the streets, due to restrictions in the current law that make it difficult for law enforcement to prove intent to deal.

“Too often drug dealers play the system by carrying just enough harmful substance to make crime worth it, because the penalty simply was not harsh enough,” Rep. Galliher said. “This is a home-grown bill, and I’m proud to work local District Attorneys, Rob Savage of the Etowah County Drug Task Force, the Sheriff’s office, and others like prosecutor Barry Matson to close a loophole in the law that allows drug traffickers to profit.  By doing so we’re ensuring the protection of our citizens from predators, and making it harder on criminals to operate in Alabama.”

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Mike Hubbard
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The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.

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