In Florida, drug crimes are vigorously prosecuted by courts and prosecutors. Regardless of the scale of the drug crime, whether the offender is a small-time dealer or a major drug trafficker, the state will practice no tolerance for drug-related offenses.
For those accused of drug trafficking, having a robust defense is undoubtedly the better option than pleading guilty and placing yourself at the mercy of the criminal court. You can fight tooth and nail alongside the right attorney using the best possible drug defense strategies. In this article, we’ll take a look at the penalties and defenses for drug trafficking in Florida.
What is Drug Trafficking in Florida?
According to Florida law, drug trafficking is the deliberate purchasing, selling, manufacturing, possessing, or transporting of a ‘trafficking amount’ of drugs. The state law imposes a minimum amount needed to support and establish a drug trafficking charge, which differs for every substance.
As the amount of drugs increases, so does the minimum mandatory jail sentence. The minimum jail sentences imposed by the court will depend on the narcotic type and quantity found.
The minimum ‘trafficking amount’ of the typical drugs is as follows:
- Cannabis: 25 pounds or more
- Cocaine: 28 grams or more
- LSD: 1 gram or more
- Oxycodone: 4 grams or more
- Ecstasy: 10 grams or more
- Hydrocodone: 4 grams or more
- GHB: 1 kilogram or more
- Heroine: 4 grams or more
- Morphine: 4 grams or more
- Amphetamine: 14 grams or more
- Opium: 4 grams or more
What Are the Consequences Of Drug Trafficking?
The state penalties for drug trafficking are harsh and extreme, with hefty fines that exceed the fines of other crimes and long mandatory minimum jail sentences. The penalties will largely depend on the type and quantity of drug allegedly involved in the case.
Drug Trafficking Penalties for Cannabis
- 25 lbs. and less than 2000 lbs. – $25,000 in fines and a minimum of 3 years in jail
- 2000 lbs. to 10,000 lbs. – $50,000 in fines and a minimum of 7 years in jail
- 10,000 lbs. or more – $200,000 in fines and at least 15 years in jail
- If a firearm is involved, life imprisonment is a possible punishment
Drug Trafficking Penalties for Cocaine
- 28 grams and less than 200 grams – $50,000 in fines and a minimum of 3 years in jail
- 200 to 400 grams – $100,000 in fines and a minimum of 7 years in jail
- 400 grams to 150 kilograms – $250,000 in fines and a minimum of 15 years in jail
- 150 kilograms and more – life sentence
Drug Trafficking Penalties for Methamphetamine
- 14 grams and more but less than 28 grams – $50,000 in fines and a minimum of 3 years in jail
- 28 to 200 grams – $100,000 in fines and a minimum of 7 years in jail
- 200 grams or more – $250,000 in fines and a minimum of 15 years in jail
Drug Trafficking Penalties for Opium, Morphine, Oxycodone, Heroin, Hydrocodone, or Hydromorphone
- 4 grams and more but less than 14 grams – $50,000 in fines and a minimum of 3 years in jail
- 14 to 28 grams – $100,000 in fines and a minimum of 15 years in jail
- 28 grams to 30 kilograms – $500,000 in fines and a minimum of 25 years in jail
What Are the Common Defenses to Use When Charged With Drug Trafficking?
Contrary to what many people might tell you about drug cases and arrests, there are many defenses your side can use. Here are the common ones:
Entrapment means that police or agents persuaded you to participate in a drug trafficking crime. Sometimes, police officers go undercover to catch people in the act of breaking the law. If a law enforcer coerces or tricks you into buying or trying a drug from them, you may be able to use the entrapment defense.
You might be acquitted if you can convince the court that you wouldn’t have done the crime without the police’s involvement.
Illegal Search and Seizure
The most common defense for drug-related cases is illegal search and seizure. It involves questioning the legality of the stop or the reason for searching a house, car, or person. As with manufacturing and possession, if an officer violates your Fourth Amendment rights by exceeding their scope of authority or using unreasonable force in searching, your lawyer can strongly argue your case.
The Fourth Amendment was always a vital consideration in any drug defense and arrest, specifically in unlawful seizures and searches.
Denying Constructive Possession
If the authorities find drugs in your vehicle or building, it does not necessarily mean that you knew they were there or had control over them. Your shared access to the building or car can serve as a viable defense.
While this is not technically a defense, it can help you minimize your mandatory jail sentence. Simply put, you offer the police reliable information in exchange for a penalty reduction. You can provide ‘substantial assistance’ in arresting, identifying, or convicting another individual engaged in drug trafficking.
Lack of Knowledge
You can claim that you did not know the illegal substance. For instance, you were driving a rental car, and drugs were found hidden in it. Then perhaps the prosecutor can’t prove that you knew it was there.
Your side may also challenge the evidence provided by the state. They must prove that you were truly involved in a drug trafficking crime. Your defense attorney can challenge the evidence and find holes in their case, especially those that can’t be proven—claiming it to be insufficient evidence.
Reliability of Informant
Another common defense that can be used is the reliability of the witness or informant. If the informant was offered a reduction of their own crimes, then their word can be deemed questionable.
Finding the Right Legal Defense for Drug Trafficking Charges
Drug trafficking cases are pursued aggressively by the court, no doubt about that. Aside from mandatory jail time, you will also need to pay thousands of dollars in fines.
While Florida’s laws and penalties are harsh and severe regarding drug-related crimes, it is not entirely hopeless. You can effectively combat your drug trafficking charge with the right kind of defense.
With the sensitivity of your case, you shouldn’t even attempt to navigate it all by yourself. Reach out to our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Hanlon Law Bradenton and let them build a strong defense that can help your case. We can defend you against your criminal charges and provide a skilled and seasoned representation in court.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation.
1111 3rd Ave W Ste 310
Bradenton, FL 34205