Orlando Drug Arrest Attorneys

What are Florida's Drug Trafficking Laws?

Despite the common perception and its depiction in the media, drug trafficking charges are not reserved for criminal masterminds, armed drug dealers or career criminals. A person does not even have to sell a drug to find oneself accused of breaking Florida's drug trafficking laws. Trafficking charges in Florida center around the sale or possession of controlled substances where the weight involved exceeds certain statutory limits. The weight limits differ among different controlled substances.

With each drug there are differing levels of penalties according to the weight of the drug. However, every trafficking charge in the State of Florida carries a requirement of a mandatory prison sentence. In addition, they are looking at the possibility of governmental seizure of their homes, vehicles, or cash that law enforcement believes has a connection to the crime.

Legal Definition of Drug Trafficking in Florida

Drug trafficking is defined as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, possession or transporting a specific amount of a controlled substance. The minimum amount that results in trafficking charges differs with each drug. For example:

Possession of these amounts of these drugs are sufficient to give rise to drug trafficking penalties in Florida. Keep in mind, that these amounts are the minimums to justify these charges. As the amounts involved exceed these minimums, the mandatory minimum fines and prison sentences drastically increase. According to Florida Statute Section 893.15, the mandatory minimum consequences for these drug offenses in 2015 are as follows:

Cannabis Trafficking Penalties:

  • 25-2,000 pounds or 300 to 2,000 plants:
    • 3 year mandatory minimum prison sentence; $25,000 fine
  • 2,000 pounds - 10,000 pounds or 2,000 -10,000 plants
    • 7 year mandatory minimum prison sentence; $50,000 fine
  • 10,000 pounds or more:
    • 15 years mandatory minimum prison sentence; $200,000 fine

Cocaine Trafficking Penalties:

  • 28 grams - 200 grams:
    • 3 year mandatory minimum sentence; $50,000 fine
  • 200 grams - 400 grams:
    • 7 year mandatory minimum sentence; $100,000 fine
  • 400 grams - 150 kilograms:
    • 15 year mandatory minimum sentence; $250,000 fine
  • More than 150 kilograms:
    • First degree felony: Life Imprisonment with no parole eligibility

Hydrocodone Trafficking Penalties:

  • 14 grams - 28 grams:
    • 3 year mandatory minimum sentence; $50,000 fine
  • 29 grams - 49 grams:
    • 7 year mandatory minimum sentence; $100,000 fine
  • 50 grams - 200 grams:
    • 15 year mandatory minimum sentence; $500,000 fine
  • 200 grams - 30 kilograms:
    • 25 year mandatory minimum sentence: $750,000 fine

Oxycodone Trafficking Penalties:

  • 7 grams - 14 grams:
    • 3 year mandatory minimum; $50,000 fine
  • 14 grams- 25 grams:
    • 7 year mandatory minimum; $100,000 fine
  • 15 grams to 100 grams:
    • 15 year mandatory minimum; $500,000 fine
  • 100 grams to 30 kilograms:
    • 25 year mandatory minimum; $750,000 fine

Trafficking Penalties:

  • 1 gram or more, but less than 5 grams:
    • 3 years prison; $50,000 fine
  • 5 grams or more, but less than 7 grams:
    • 7 years prison; $100,000 fine
  • 7 grams or more:
    • 15 years prison; $500,000 fine

MDMA/Ecstasy Trafficking Penalties:

  • 10 grams or more but under 200 grams:
    • 3 year mandatory minimum sentence; $50,000 fine
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams:
    • 7 year mandatory minimum sentence; $100,000 fine
  • 400 grams or more:
    • 15 year mandatory minimum sentence; $250,000 fine

Methamphetamine Trafficking Penalties:

  • 14 grams - 28 grams:
    • 3 year mandatory minimum sentence; $50,000 fine
  • 28 grams - 200 grams:
    • 7 year mandatory minimum sentence; $100,000 fine
  • 200 grams or more:
    • 15 year mandatory minimum sentence; $250,000 fine

Defense Strategies for Drug Trafficking in Florida

Suppression of the Evidence

As a citizen of the United States, you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of your person and property. This means that there are constitutional protections restricting the actions of law enforcement. If law enforcement exceeded their constitutional authority in obtaining evidence against you, it has been obtained illegally and is subject to suppression by the court. In order to challenge the constitutionality of law enforcement's actions, your lawyer must file a motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence. Without the illegally obtained evidence, the State may be unable to prosecute your case.

Entrapment Defense

Sometimes when conducting sting operations or using confidential informants, the police go too far, and coerce a person to commit a crime they would never have committed without law enforcement "setting them up". This is called entrapment. Proving the police overreached in this way is sometimes a defense strategy that is used. The burden of proving entrapment lies upon the defendant, but if it can be established it can lead to either dismissal or acquittal of your charges.

Youthful Offender

When a person is charged with a sentence that is not punishable by life, and they have not reached the age of 21 at the time of their sentencing, they may qualify for youthful offender sentencing. The youthful offender option is available only once in a person's lifetime. If a defendant qualifies, and the judge agrees to sentence that person as a youthful offender, it allows the judge to avoid the minimum mandatory sentences for trafficking in illegal drugs in Florida. The thing to keep in mind about the youthful offender option is that whether or not to sentence someone as a youthful offender rests in the sole discretion of the judge

Substantial Assistance

The judge is permitted to sentence a defendant without imposing the minimum mandatory prison sentence under the statutes if the defendant is providing substantial assistance to law enforcement. Substantial assistance means working for law enforcement as a "snitch" or an "informer" in order to help the police to arrest others. This is rarely a first option, as most defendants do not want to help the police to arrest their friends or acquaintances. However, in some cases it is the only way to ensure a chance to avoid prison.

If a defendant decides that he is interested in providing substantial assistance to law enforcement, his lawyer will set up a meeting where the client will speak to the police and "proffer" the information he can provide. Law enforcement and the office of the state attorney will then decide whether or not they are interested in working with that individual. If they are interested, the defendant will be presented with a substantial assistance agreement, or contract, for him to sign. The agreement will spell out what is expected of the defendant. Typically, the contract will specify a certain sentence if a defendant assists in a certain amount of arrests or prosecutions, and the more the defendant provides, the less his sentence.

It is absolutely crucial that a defendant is absolutely sure about his willingness and ability to provide substantial assistance before he signs the contract and enters his plea. If he enters the agreement and does not live up to his end of the bargain, he will again be subject to mandatory prison time, and typically the judge will not allow the plea to be withdrawn.

Are You Facing Drug Trafficking Charges? Find Out How We Can Help

When one thinks of drug trafficking, the first thoughts that come to mind include movies like Blow, Miami Vice, Breaking Bad, and Scarface. However, you would be surprised at who comprises most of the clientele. Many individuals who DO NOT make their living dealing drugs get charged and arrested for trafficking, including Housewives, students, tourists, and addicts who happen to carry a decent amount of pills with them.

Some people just want to work out a deal, avoiding the harshest of penalties and want their rights protected from the powerful government entities, such as the State Attorney's office. For example, we represented a woman who went to a pharmacy and fraudulently obtained Oxycodone and Hydrocodone without a valid prescription. She was caught by the police red handed and because the State of Florida measures the weight of the pill, our client was facing mandatory minimum prison sentence when she had no desire at all to sell the drugs but rather obtain them for personal use.

In many of these cases, we were able to convince prosecutors not to seek jail or prison time based upon legal defenses, depositions, negotiation and a number of other tactics. We cannot tell you how many countless others we have helped who innocently were caught up in the stigma and who never intended to deal what they purchased.

If you're subjected to any of the penalties under the Florida drug trafficking statutes, contact our Orlando drug offense attorneys for an immediate case evaluation. Call us today at (407) 228-3838.

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