Q: How much do you want?
A: All of it.
You may remember this classic line (pun intended) in the movie Blow. It speaks volumes about attitudes towards cocaine back in the 80s. You couldn’t find a hip party in south beach or LA without copious amounts of the stuff blowing in the wind. But by the time the movie Blow was filmed in 2001, the war on drugs was in full swing and the “party” was about over. To date draconian drug laws of yesteryear remain. A large percentage of those incarcerated are locked up because of lengthy sentences on cocaine related offenses. Let’s take a look at cocaine charges, sentencing ranges and possible defenses one might have in cocaine prosecutions.
Cocaine Possession in Jacksonville, FL
In Florida, cocaine is a controlled substance listed as a Schedule II drug pursuant to Sec. 893.03, Florida Statutes. It is a felony to possess any amount of cocaine. There are no misdemeanor level offenses in cocaine cases as there are in cannabis cases. However, as long as the amount is less than 28 grams, it will be filed as a third degree felony, the lowest felony level in Florida. Third degree felonies have a five year maximum prison sentence. However, it is unlikely that one convicted of this lower level felony would do any jail time and could even hope to avoid a felony conviction by receiving what is known as a “withhold of adjudication.” If one is caught selling cocaine, the charges could be filed as a second or first degree felony which would mean an increase in the maximum prison sentence if convicted.
Possible Sentences for Cocaine Charges in Florida
Sentencing ranges drastically increase when trafficking charges are filed. If you are found to be in possession of more than 28 grams of cocaine (and under 200 grams), you would face a minimum three years in prison if convicted. From there the minimum mandatory prison sentences increase with the amounts. If a person possesses 200 grams or more (up to 400 grams), then the minimum prison sentence jumps to seven years. For those nabbed with more than 400 grams (but less than 150 Kg), the minimum time in prison more than doubles to 15 years. But because these are first degree felonies, the person could serve up to 30 years in certain cases.
Possible Defenses to Cocaine Charges
Defenses to these drug charges are few. That’s why it takes a skilled Jacksonville Criminal defense lawyer to negotiate and to find whatever possible defense there may be. For example, in a case involving charges stemming from a traffic stop where cocaine was found in a car with multiple occupants will oftentimes have issues involving constructive possession. That is different from actual possession and can create more challenges for the prosecution in certain situations.
Lab testing protocols and the reliability of the FDLE results could be an issue in some cases. Crime labs, such as FDLE’s, must follow sound, forensic testing procedures. If they do not, then there may be defense challenges to the admissibility of the drug test. If the state cannot prove what the substance is, then charges could be dismissed. There’s a vast amount of discovery that can be obtained from the lab and defense attorneys are entitled to depositions of the lab analysts as well. While it may seem tough to fight these charges, defenses do exist. Call us for a free case analysis today, and as always, Know Before You Blow!