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 Orlando focus on the sale or possession of controlled substances. Each drug has specified penalties that correlate with the total weight of the trafficked drug. However, every trafficking charge carries a requirement of a mandatory prison sentence. Those convicted also face governmental seizure of their homes, vehicles, or cash that law enforcement believes to be proceeds from drug sales.
Drug trafficking is defined as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, possession or transporting a specific amount of a controlled substance. The minimum amount needed to warrant trafficking charges differs for each drug. For example:
Keep in mind that these amounts are only the minimums to justify trafficking charges. As the amounts increase, the mandatory minimum fines and prison sentences do the same. According to Florida Statute 893.135, the mandatory minimum penalty for these drug offenses in 2018 are as follows:
As a citizen of the United States, you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of your person and property, meaning that constitutional protections restrict the actions of law enforcement.
If law enforcement abused their constitutional authority in obtaining evidence against you, the evidence 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.
When conducting sting operations or using confidential informants, the police often go too far and coerce a person into committing a crime they would never have otherwise. This is called entrapment. 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.
When a person is charged with a crime 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 disregard the minimum mandatory sentence for trafficking illegal drugs in Florida. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that deciding to sentence someone as a youthful offender rests solely with the judge
The judge can sentence a defendant without imposing the minimum mandatory sentence under the statute 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 arrest others. This is rarely the 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 to provide 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 lighter his sentence.
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 on 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 Florida measures the weight of the pill, our client was facing drug trafficking charges when she had no desire at all to sell the drugs but rather obtain them for personal use.
In many of these cases, we’re able to convince prosecutors not to pursue prison time through legal defenses, deposition negotiation, and a number of other tactics. If you’re subjected to any of the penalties under Florida’s drug trafficking statutes, contact our Orlando drug offense attorneys for a free case evaluation. As former prosecutors, attorneys of the Umansky law firm have tried hundreds of cases in courtrooms across Florida, offering unique benefits that most other local law firms cannot and over 100 years of experience combined between our team of attorneys. Call us today.
There are defense strategies for drug trafficking charges in Florida which include Evidence Suppression, or the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of your person and property. Your lawyer may be able to raise an Entrapment Defense if the police went too far and coerced you into committing a crime you would not have committed otherwise.
Depending on the drug type and the amount, you can get anywhere from three to 25 years in prison for a drug trafficking charge.
Defenses that can be used to beat a drug trafficking charge include: Evidence Suppression, Entrapment Defense, Drug Trafficking Charges as a Youthful Offender, and Substantial Assistance in Drug Trafficking Cases.
Both federal and state laws apply to drug trafficking charges. If an individual is caught trafficking a controlled substance across state lines, federal law will apply. However, if drug trafficking is entirely within one state, the drug laws of that state will apply.
If you’ve been arrested on international drug charges, these are complex cases held in federal court that can lead to a lengthy prison sentence. You need the services of an international drug trafficking attorney with experience handling cases in federal courtrooms.
Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney