Drug Trafficking

Jacksonville Drug Trafficking Defense Attorney

Drug trafficking is a societal issue, but at the same time many individuals are wrongfully accused of drug trafficking in Florida. While Florida has made many steps in regard to legalizing the use of marijuana, unfortunately drug possession still follows the trends of federal law and is largely illegal. Drug trafficking in Florida can be charged when a person delivers, sells or travels into the state of Florida with a controlled substance. The process can be extremely complicated and oppressive, it is crucial to meet these charges head on with a Jacksonville drug trafficking lawyer who will fight you’re your rights and the best possible disposition in your case.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Drug Trafficking in Florida is defined by Florida Statutes § 893.13. It includes the large-scale manufacturing, transportation, or sale of any controlled substance. The penalties range from a first-degree felony, carrying up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 to a minimum of 3 years in prison and $25,000. The difference between possession and trafficking often depends on the maximum weight of the possessed drugs. The maximum weights for some of the most common thresholds are:

  • Marijuana – 25 lbs or 300 plants
  • Cocaine – 28 grams
  • LSD – 1 gram
  • Ecstasy – 10 grams
  • Opiates such as heroine, Codeine and Morphine – 4 grams
  • Amphetamines – 14 grams

Federal Drug Trafficking Charges and Penalties

Federal drug trafficking charges are codified under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 et seq. This code makes manufacturing, importation, distribution and trafficking of any controlled substances a federal offense. Federal law classifies controlled substances based on the likelihood of abuse and danger to users. These classifications are split into schedules from least serious to most serious. The charges and penalties vary widely based on the amount of contraband and the schedule of the drugs. If there are no prior convictions these charges carry up to 10 years to life in federal prison but the penalties escalate from there:

  • Charge involving death, serious bodily injury, or the offender already has a federal drug trafficking conviction:
    • 20 years to life in federal prison
  • Two or more federal convictions
    • Life in federal prison, without any possibly of parole
  • Fines
    • These can be up to eight million dollars, unless as part of a conspiracy then up to twenty million dollars

Florida Drug Trafficking Penalties

Unfortunately, it’s also very difficult to outline the penalties for Florida drug trafficking offenses because they are based on both the volume and the schedule of the drugs involved. Florida Statutes § 893.135 outline the possible penalties, but it is important to speak to a criminal defense attorney to make sure you are treated fairly by the courts in sentencing. The two most commonly trafficked drugs in Florida are marijuana and cocaine.  The penalties (just like all other drugs) are based on the amount trafficked.

Marijuana

  • 25-2,000 lbs.
    • Minimum sentence of 3 years in prison and $25,000 fine
  • 2,000-10,000 lbs.
    • Minimum sentence of 7 years in prison and $50,000 fine
  • 10,000 lbs +
    • Minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and $200,000 fine

Cocaine

  • 28 to 200 Grams
    • Minimum sentence of 3 years in prison and $50,000 fine
  • 200-400 grams
    • Minimum sentence of 7 years in prison and $100,000 fine
  • 400 grams – 150 kilograms
    • Minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and $250,000 fine
  • 150 kilograms +
    • Life in prison without possibility of parole

Defenses to a Drug Trafficking Charge

  • Factual Challenge
    • Most traditional defenses fall under the category of factual challenges
      • The substance was not drugs
      • There was no knowledge the substance was drugs
      • The amount alleged was incorrect
      • The identity of the owner was wrong
  • Legal Challenge – Almost all drug trafficking charges arise with a traffic stop, a probable cause stop or a warrant. Each of these have their own set of requirements for police to not run afoul of constitutional protections, namely the fourth amendment. A violation of these rights can mean suppression of the contraband likely dismissal of all charges.
  • Valid Prescription – Many controlled substances are legally available if prescribed by a doctor. A prescription is a potentially valid defense of trafficking these drugs.
  • No Constructive Possession – Charges can arise if a person has dominion and control of drugs, knows they are there, and knows they are illegal. Often times drugs are found near a defendant and police assume these three facts to be true, but a skilled defense attorney can attack potential charges by disproving these factors.

FAQ

  • When is possession of a controlled substance considered drug trafficking?
  • Can drug trafficking charges be dropped?
    • “Dropping of charges” and “dismissal of charges” are synonyms, and the best possible resolution for the accused. These charges can be dropped based on mitigation and filing of legal motions. It is important to meet with a qualified drug trafficking lawyer to address the possible defenses and work towards a potential dismissal.
  • Can a drug trafficking charge be expunged?
    • Drug trafficking is similar to other types of criminal charges, it can be expunged if dismissed, but this is up to the prosecutor in the case. However, a judge may dismiss charges if a successful motion to dismiss has been filed.  This is another reason it is crucial to speak to a drug charge attorney who can fight for your rights and keep these charges off of your record.
  • Is drug trafficking an organized crime?
    • Usually drug trafficking is not an organized crime. Florida Statutes § 905.34 outlines the crimes that increase penalties based on organized crime involvement, and drug trafficking can qualify based on specific circumstances. These usually require specific Florida RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) factors, but it is highly recommended to speak to a drug crime lawyer if charges have been filed under that statute.

Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Lee Lockett and the members of the legal team at Lockett law serve Jacksonville and the areas surrounding Duval County. The team can address any criminal case and will fight tirelessly for your rights. Lee Lockett personally has decades of experience as a, as a prosecutor, public defender, and a private criminal defense attorney. The firm is dedicated to only litigation work. Lee Lockett and the defense team at Lockett law have the dedication and spirit to fight for the best possible resolution of your case. Call a drug trafficking attorney in Jacksonville today at (904) 858-9818 or connect with our team in the chat window on the bottom right of your screen to have an open and free consultation.

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