Legal Blog

Selling Drugs on TikTok: Charges & Penalties

05 February 2022 | Drug Charges,  

Attorney Sean Hessler

Written by
Sean Hessler

05 February 2022

Drug Charges,  

featured blog image

TikTok, mostly known as an app full of memes and dances of questionable quality, also has a dark side. People have figured out how to use this app for illegal goods and services. Since TikTok is an app used by and targeted to minors, those caught selling drugs on this platform could face serious charges.

How is This Happening?

Social media has evolved rapidly in the last decade. These sophisticated apps and social platforms create opportunities for illegal activity.

TikTok’s Tagging System

Consider TikTok’s tagging system. You can tag your videos to make them easier to find, and if people watch videos like yours, yours will eventually end up on their “FYP” or For You Page. If a user follows an account, TikTok suggests other users that may interest them. While this is intended to provide a better user experience, it unintentionally guides buyers to other dealers.

New Tags Spread Fast

While some tags have been banned on TikTok, including obvious ones like cocaine and MDMA, others aren’t. People are always finding new ways to get around the rules. Since word moves quickly through the community, new tags are widely known within hours or days.

Sellers Mail Drugs to Buyers

Sellers generally mail their items, some even offering to do so internationally. Some claim that they offer them by “prescription only,” which is a thinly veiled way to try to escape TikTok censors and reports.

Goods sold range from marijuana edibles and joints to Schedule I medications and prescription sedatives.

What Has TikTok Done to Prevent This?

This is a massive problem for TikTok, but like Snapchat, they have been largely ineffective at tackling it. They respond reactively rather than proactively by banning hashtags after they have become popular or banning accounts as they are reported. This means buyers and sellers simply move on to a new hashtag or account to avoid consequences.

This illegal activity creates significant legal liability for TikTok, so they have stepped up efforts to stop the sale of drugs on their platform. While some sellers have moved on, the community has grown so large that these efforts have minimal results.

TikTok Drug Sales Result in Fatal Consequences

The crackdown has intensified in light of news reports highlighting this trend. There have been deaths related to drug sales on social media, including multiple teenagers who died after overdosing on fentanyl.

In another case, an underage girl died after using drugs mixed with a poisonous substance. Grieving parents have pushed harder to hold social media companies and drug dealers accountable.

What Happens If You’re Caught Selling Drugs on TikTok?

If you’ve been arrested for selling drugs via TikTok or other social media platforms, you may wonder what your future holds. Your charges and penalties vary depending on the type of drug, amount sold, and other aggravating factors.

The Type of Drug Sold Impacts Your Charges

Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and are likely to be misused, and these drugs come with the most severe penalties. There are five schedules in total. Those in Schedule I include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

Schedule II includes hydrocodone, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Dealing a Schedule I, II, or III substance is a felony.

You Could Face Misdemeanor or Felony Charges

Penalties are dependent on which type of misdemeanor or felony you are charged with. If you sell marijuana, maximum fines range from $5,000 to $10,000, and you could spend as much as six years in jail.

Depending on the felony charges you face, selling a controlled substance could result in 30 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

Aggravating & Mitigating Factors

There are also enhancing circumstances and mitigating factors to consider.

Aggravating Factors

Enhancing circumstances can result in harsher penalties, and they include:

For example, selling less than 30 grams of marijuana without a prior offense is a Class A misdemeanor. This is bumped up to a felony if you have a previous conviction.

Mitigating Factors

Mitigating factors can decrease your sentence. They include:

Turn to Hessler Law PC for Your Defense

We know that facing drug dealing charges is frightening, but this isn’t the time to give up hope or throw yourself at the court’s mercy.

A criminal defense attorney is your best shot at protecting your future and your rights. To create a plan that gives you a path forward, call Hessler Law PC at (317) 886-8800 or contact us online. You don’t have to do this alone.