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Drug Trafficking Offenses in Florida

Drug trafficking charges are far more serious than charges of drug possession.  Trafficking is a felony charge that carries with it stiffer penalties and statutory mandatory minimum sentences.  Anyone who “knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or is in actual or constructive possession of” certain quantities of controlled substances or prescription drugs engages in the crime of trafficking.  (See Fl. Stat. §893.135.)

Penalties for trafficking vary depending on the amount and type of drug at issue.  Here are some examples:

Cannabis (marijuana) trafficking

  • Between 25 and 2000 pounds, or between 300 and 2000 plants:
  • 3-year mandatory minimum prison term, $25,000 fine
  • Between 2000 and 10,000 pounds, or between 2000 and 10,000 plants:
  • 7-year mandatory minimum prison term, $50,000 fine
  • More than 10,000 pounds, or more than 10,000 plants:
  • 15-year mandatory minimum prison term, $200,000 fine

Cocaine trafficking

  • Between 28 grams of cocaine (or of any mixture containing cocaine) and 200 grams:
  • 3-year mandatory minimum prison term, $50,000 fine
  • Between 200 and 400 grams:
  • 7-year mandatory minimum prison term, $100,000 fine
  • Between 400 grams and 150 kilograms:
  • 15-year mandatory minimum prison term, $250,000 fine
  • More than 150 kilograms:
  • Mandatory life imprisonment

Hydrocodone trafficking

  • Between 14 grams of hydrocodone (or of any mixture containing hydrocodone) and 28 grams:
  • 3-year mandatory minimum prison term, $50,000 fine
  • Between 28 and 50 grams:
  • 7-year mandatory minimum prison term, $100,000 fine
  • Between 50 and 200 grams:
  • 15-year mandatory minimum prison term, $500,000 fine
  • Between 200 grams and 30 kilograms:
  • 25-year mandatory minimum prison term, $750,000 fine
  • More than 30 kilograms:
  • Mandatory life imprisonment

Potential defenses to trafficking charges

To prove a trafficking charge, the prosecutor must demonstrate that the defendant knowingly participated in trafficking activities.  Generally experts must perform a chemical analysis to establish that the materials in question are in fact illegal drugs.  There are a variety of ways to mount a defense against drug charges.  While not all defenses are appropriate in every case, potential defenses might include:

  1. Challenging the chemical analysis of the substance;
  2. Challenging any proof of intent to engage in trafficking;
  3. Challenging the constitutionality of the search and seizure that led to the charges;
  4. Arguing entrapment – that is, that police led or coerced the defendant into committing a crime he would otherwise not have;
  5. Offering “substantial assistance” to police and prosecutors in identifying, arresting or convicting other individuals involved in trafficking, which permits prosecutors to reduce or suspend mandatory minimum sentences. (See Fl. Stat. §893.135(4).); or
  6. If appropriate, requesting youthful offender status, which gives the judge discretion to place an offender on probation or under supervision instead of imposing mandatory minimum sentences. Youthful offender status is available in one instance to a defendant under 21 years old who is charged with a crime not punishable by life in prison.

Consult an Orlando Drug Crimes Lawyer

The potential consequences of a drug trafficking conviction are enormous.  To protect yourself, you need a skilled, dedicated drug crimes lawyer familiar with Florida’s trafficking laws.  The Baez Law Firm has successfully represented clients accused of a variety of drug crimes in Orlando, Miami, Tampa, and throughout the state.  Contact us today for a consultation.

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