In order to combat drug-related crimes and deaths, the Miami, Florida has some of the most serious laws regarding possession, distribution, and trafficking. Of crimes relating to drugs, drug trafficking is by far the most serious. If you have been charged with drug trafficking, it is important to hire an experienced drug trafficking attorney right away. Even with the help of an attorney, a drug trafficking charge in Florida can be a life-altering experience. Best not face the court alone.
Navigating the law when it comes to drug trafficking in Florida can be really difficult. The penalty is largely dependent on specific facts, such as the drug you’re trafficking and the quantity. As a result, it is really difficult to know how to defend yourself and protect your rights. Given the severity of a drug trafficking charge, it is really important to hire an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the court system and hopefully gain a lesser sentence.
Drug Trafficking Definition
Generally speaking, drug trafficking is defined as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, or transportation of drugs into Florida. Drug trafficking differs from drug possession purely based on the quantity in your possession.
You don’t have to be a wanted criminal to be found guilty of drug trafficking. Instead, you’ll be found guilty of drug trafficking just by exceeding the quantity limit of a certain drug.
Each drug type has a different trafficking limit, which is how much of one drug is required for it to be considered drug trafficking instead of drug possession.
Trafficking vs. Possession
To the average, person drug trafficking creates connotations of killers, kilos of heroin, and other sinister pictures. In the state of Florida, however, trafficking is determined by how much controlled substance you have on you.
Just by having too much of a controlled substance can lead you to a drug trafficking charge, even if you have no intention of “trafficking” per se.
With this in mind, a drug trafficking charge means that you have passed the quantity threshold, either in possession or sales.
For example, having more than 4 grams of an opioid count as drug trafficking in Florida. Drug possession or drug possession with the intent to sell, on the other hand, means that you have not passed the threshold yet.
If you have 3 grams of that same opioid, then you will be charged with possession or possession with intent to sell, not trafficking.
One thing that is important to point out is that you don’t necessarily have to have the intent to sell in order to be charged with drug trafficking.
According to Florida statutes, being in actual or constructive possession of a large amount of a controlled substance can lead you to a drug trafficking charge.
To clarify some terms, actual possession means that the drugs were found on your body, like in your pocket or hand. Constructive possession means that you were in the presence of the controlled substance with complete knowledge and some control.
Keeping these terms in mind, that means that you can be charged with drug trafficking simply by being near a large amount of a controlled substance.
Of course, you will not be charged if you are completely unaware of the existence of the drugs in the first place. You must have the knowledge and some control.
Types of Drug Trafficking Offenses
As we have already mentioned, offenses will vary dramatically. Factors such as drug type and quantity will largely impact the charge you are faced with. Even though most people do not equate carrying 1 teaspoon of heroin to drug trafficking, Florida State laws do.
Here are the most common penalties for drug trafficking offenses based on drug type:
If you trafficked over 25 pounds of marijuana, you automatically get a felony charge. Penalties for a marijuana trafficking felony offense can include the following:
- 25-2,000 lbs. marijuana: 3 years prison sentence minimum and a fine of $25,000
- 2,000-10,000 lbs. marijuana: 7 years prison sentence minimum and a fine of $50,000
Habitual offenders may receive a higher mandatory minimum sentence, often resulting in a longer prison sentence.
Opioids include fentanyl, morphine, heroin, and prescription opiates. Though they are not opioids, other dangerous drugs like methamphetamines, amphetamines, and hallucinogens have the same penalties as opioids. Possessing any more than 4 grams of these drugs leads to a trafficking offense.
Consequences can include the following:
- 4-14 grams: 3 years prison sentence minimum and a fine of $50,000
- 14-28 grams: 7 years prison sentence minimum and a fine of $100,000
- 28+ grams: 25 years prison sentence minimum and a fine of $500,000
Having more than 28 grams of cocaine can result in a first degree felony drug trafficking charge. The following are potential penalties:
- 28-200 grams: 3 years prison sentence minimum and a fine of $50,000
- 200-400 grams: 7 years prison sentence minimum and a fine of $100,000
- 400+ grams: 15 years prison sentence minimum and a fine of $250,000
Obviously, drug trafficking leads to some serious offenses on the legal level, but it has other penalties not enforced by law too. For example, a drug trafficking charge on your record can make it incredibly difficult to get a job in the future. As a result, you can struggle to meet your goals and provide for your family.
On top of that, drug trafficking can greatly impact you socially. Friends, neighbors, and family members can all view you differently after a drug charge. In many ways, the social ramifications of drug trafficking charges are much more serious than the legal ones since they can destroy your support systems and relationships.
What Happens When Trafficking Crosses State Lines
If you traffic drugs across state lines, you will be penalized under both federal and state laws.
Though some people think that double jeopardy protects them from being charged by more than one state for the same drug offense, that is simply not true.
You will face both state and criminal charges for a single incident. In the case that you have trafficked drugs across straight lines, it is important to hire legal counsel that is experienced with both state and federal crimes.
This will allow you to rest assured that you are protected on both the state and federal level with an experienced attorney.
What to do if You Get a Drug Trafficking Charge
If you have been faced with a drug trafficking charge, it is important to know your Miranda rights. Your Miranda rights are what a police officer should tell you at the time of the arrest.
This includes the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. From there, remain silent until you can speak with your attorney.
The most important step to take after you have been arrested for drug trafficking is to hire an attorney.
Though you will have the option to defend yourself, it is best to hire an experienced attorney to fight on your behalf.
Hiring someone with a lot of experience and knowledge on drug trafficking in the state of Florida can ensure that your rights are protected and that you get the best defense for your case.
How a Lawyer Can Help You
Hiring an experienced attorney can make a world of difference in your case. These attorneys will know the best defense based on your case and charge. Below are some commonly used defenses that attorneys will use for drug trafficking cases:
- Show you were a victim to entrapment
- Show you were a victim to illegal search and seizure
- Show there is little evidence to support the charge
- Provide substantial assistance, which is when you agree to help the law arrest other drug traffickers for a minimum sentence
Above are just of few techniques that attorneys can use to help get you a lesser sentence. Most often, attorneys will defend their clients by showing doubt as to their knowledge of the drugs. Since drug trafficking charges rarely result in drugs being found on the person, many attorneys view this as a weakness in the state’s case.
It is also fairly common to attempt to prove some sort of issue within the protocol. This can include issues concerning a warrant, search, or seizing the drugs in the first place. If there is an issue within the protocol, then charges can be dropped against you.
Here at Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we work tirelessly to study your case and create a defense that aims to get you the least harsh sentence available to the charge. At the same time, we ensure to keep your rights protected, every step of the way. Contact our offices at (754) 755-8554 for a free consultation today.