What are Florida's Drug 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 trafficking charges according to the weight of the drug. However, every drug trafficking charge in the State of Florida carries a requirement of a mandatory prison sentence. In addition, individuals charged with trafficking are looking at the possibility of governmental seizure of their homes, vehicles, or cash that law enforcement believes has a connection to the crime charged.

Being charged with breaking drug trafficking laws can be terrifying, and there is a lot of information that it is important to understand in order to properly defend yourself.

Legal Definition of Drug Trafficking in Florida

Drug trafficking is defined in Florida as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, possession or transporting a trafficking amount of a listed drug. The trafficking amount differs with each drug. For example:

Possession of these amounts of these drugs are sufficient to give rise to drug trafficking charges in the State of 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. The mandatory minimum consequences for these drug offenses follow:

Florida Cannabis Trafficking Penalties:

  • 25-9,999 pounds or 300 to 1,999 plants 3 years prison; $25,000 fine
  • 2,000 pounds- 9,999 pounds 7 years prison; $50,000 fine
  • Or 2,000 to 9,999 plants
  • 10,000 pounds or more 15 years prison; $200,000 fine
  • Or 10,000 or more plants

Florida Cocaine Trafficking Penalties:

  • 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams 3 years prison; $50,000 fine
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams 7 years prison; $100,000 fine
  • 400 grams or more, but less than 150 kilograms 15 years prison; $250,000 fine

Florida Hydrocodone Trafficking Penalties:

  • 4 grams or more, but less than 14 grams 3 years prison; $50,000 fine
  • 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams 15 years prison; $100,000 fine
  • 28 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms 25 years prison; $500,000 fine

Florida LSD (Acid) 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

Florida MDMA(Ecstasy) Trafficking Penalties:

  • 10 grams or more but under 200 grams 3 years prison; $50,000 fine
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams 7 years prison; $100,000 fine
  • 400 grams or more 15 years prison; $250,000 fine

Florida Oxycodone Trafficking Penalties:

  • 4 grams or more, but less than 14 grams 3 years prison; $50,000 fine
  • 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams 15 years prison; $100,000 fine
  • 28 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms 25 years prison; $500,000 fine

Important Strategies for Florida Drug Trafficking Charges

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 to drug trafficking charges. 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 prison sentences of the drug trafficking statutes. 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 term under the statute if the defendant is providing substantial assistance to law enforcement. Substantial assistance means working for law enforcement as a "snich" 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.

If you're subjected to any of the penalties under Florida drug trafficking statute, contact one of our Orlando drug offense attorneys for a free case review. Call us today at (407) 228-3838.

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