If you’ve been charged with drug trafficking in Florida, then you’re facing the state’s most severe drug crime. If convicted, the consequences can be life-changing and devastating.
However, with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney for drug trafficking, you can potentially minimize your penalties or get the case dropped entirely. Here’s what you need to know:
What is a Drug Trafficking Crime in Florida?
Drug trafficking under Florida law is defined as knowingly having possession or making transportation of any illegal substance with the intent to sell or distribute.
If a person is found to have sold, manufactured or delivered drugs, the charges will increase, but even just possessing a high quantity qualifies as drug trafficking.
Florida takes these crimes very seriously in its attempt to fight the state’s drug problems at the source.
What You Should Do If Arrested for Drug Trafficking in Florida:
Contact a Drug Trafficking Attorney Immediately
Drug trafficking is not a crime you should underestimate. You need aggressive legal representation to protect your rights and guide you through the process. One misjudged sentence can cause your defense to fall down.
Don’t make that mistake. Contact a Florida drug trafficking attorney as soon as you can. The sooner, the better.
Know Your Rights
During your arrest, you don’t need to answer the questions law enforcement asks you. You have the right to remain silent until your attorney arrives to help you. Anything you divulge could be incriminating information.
Police officers also have no right to search you unlawfully. Florida law states that they can only search you with probable cause to believe you’re committing an offense. For example, if they saw you were distributing drugs, that would be a probable cause. But if they searched you randomly just because they thought you looked suspicious, this can be used in your defense to get the charges dropped later in court.
With the help of your drug trafficking attorney, you should collect all evidence as soon as possible. The last thing you want is significant evidence to get destroyed or lost. Anything from the evidence that proves you were somewhere else to a test that shows the substances were not drugs, should be secured.
How to Get a Drug Trafficking Charge Dismissed or Reduced?
Once you’ve got a criminal defense lawyer working with you, they can set about finding a route to either minimize your penalties or get your charges dropped.
Insufficient Evidence Defense
One of the most common defenses of drug trafficking charges is to challenge the evidence provided by the state.
The state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Your criminal defense attorney will challenge any holes in their case that can’t be proven, claiming insufficient evidence.
Challenge How Evidence Was Acquired
The state and law enforcement must also have gathered evidence legally. You have rights, for example, as to how you were searched.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. If you were searched illegally by police, then the evidence could be excluded from your case.
Another example may include medical records being acquired or a home being searched without the proper search warrants.
Reliability of Informants
Another common defense we use is the reliability of informants and witnesses. If a witness was offered a reduction for their own penalty in exchange for a testimony, then their word may be questionable.
Entrapment can happen when law enforcement confidentially pressures you into committing a crime.
This can be an effective defense as you admit you committed the crime but have legal justification. However, the use of this type of drug trafficking defense is rare.
You may be able to make a defense claiming that you did not know about the illegal substances. For example, if the drugs were stored in the trunk of your car, they could have been planted or left by a friend earlier in the day.
Reducing the Charges
Drug trafficking charges in Florida are taken extremely seriously, but there may be the opportunity to change the nature of the charges to something lesser.
For example, a drug trafficking charge could possibly be reduced to a simple drug possession charge with the help of an experienced attorney who knows how to negotiate.
This could see three years in prison be reduced to probation.
In these situations, plea negotiations are critical and that’s why you should put care into hiring a drug trafficking attorney with experience and strong standing in the local courts.
Finally, another method to avoid harsh penalties is to offer law enforcement ‘substantial assistance’.
Put simply; you offer information to law enforcement in exchange for a reduction in your penalties.
For example, an individual arrested for street dealing may have knowledge of the true trafficker further up the chain and offer information on them.
Although this may sound simple, it’s often a last resort and you should always talk to your criminal defense attorney to find the best, cleanest solution for your circumstances.
What if My Child Has Been Arrested for Drug Trafficking?
If your child has been arrested for drug trafficking, they could be looking at a lengthy prison sentence. Even if your child has never sold a drug, just the mere possession of large quantities of drugs could see them convicted.
Thankfully in Florida, we see more and more cases lean towards rehabilitation rather than strict, mandatory punishments.
The best Florida criminal defense attorneys will be able your child to deal with any drug problems by suggesting a route to drug rehab and counseling.
This can also prove vital in any Drug Trafficking case. It shows your child is dealing with their problems and taking responsibility – ultimately reducing the chance of jail, hefty fines and a criminal record.
Florida Drug Trafficking Quantity
The following quantity of illegal substances qualifies for ‘Drug Trafficking in Florida.
- Cannabis – At least 25 pounds or 300 cannabis plants.
- Opium – At least 4 grams
- Oxycodone – At least 4 grams
- Hydrocodone – At least 4 grams
- Morphine – At least 4 grams
- Phencyclidine – At least 28 grams
- Methaqualone – At least 200 grams
- Amphetamine – At least 14 grams
- Gamma-hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB- date rape drug) – At least 1 kilogram
- LSD – At least 1 gram
Drug Trafficking in Florida Penalties
Depending on the illegal substance found, you may face various mandatory prison sentences, otherwise known as “mandatory minimums.” These also vary depending on the quantity levels and range from between 3-25 years in prison.
Many of the charges may also qualify as federal drug crimes. Federal drug crimes can result in decades-long prison sentences and extremely high fines.
The most common Drug Trafficking crimes in Florida include:
Cannabis Drug Trafficking Penalties
- 25-1,999lbs: 3-years in prison and $25,00 in fines.
- 2,000-9,999lbs: 7-years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
- 10,000 or more: At least 15-years in prison and $200,000 in fines.
- If a firearm was involved, then life imprisonment may be a possibility.
Opium Drug Trafficking Penalties
- 4-13 grams: 3-years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
- 14-27 grams: 15-years in prison and $100,000 fines.
- 28 or more grams: At least 25-years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
Cocaine Drug Trafficking Penalties
- 28-199 grams: 3-years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
- 200-399 grams: 7-years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
- 400 grams to 15kg: Att least 15-years in prison and $250,000 fines.
Drug Trafficking Attorney in Pinellas County, FL
If you want to fight a drug trafficking charge in Florida, you must contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We have had very good success over the years in reducing charges, getting evidence thrown out, and protecting young people’s futures.
Sean McQuaid is a top-rated criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County. He is the President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association, a group of 1,100 lawyers and judges in the area. He is the managing partner at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., one of Tampa Bay’s most prestigious law firms with the reputation and connections to make things happen.
With decades of experience helping people like you, we believe there is no better place to help you fight or reduce a drug trafficking charge in Florida.
Contact us today for a free consultation to get started or CALL (727) 381-2300