Individuals charged with drug offenses can face harsh penalties under Florida state law, such as years in prison and hefty fines. Cocaine offenses that carry these penalties include possession, possession with intent to distribute, and trafficking.
If you face any of these charges, a Winter Garden cocaine lawyer could defend you and your rights. A trustworthy drug attorney could explain the charges against you and can help prepare an effective defense.
Drug offenses involving cocaine can lead to severe outcomes because the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act lists cocaine as a Schedule II controlled substance. Possession and distribution of cocaine can lead to felony convictions, with a range of sentencing for each offense. A cocaine lawyer in Winter Garden could sort through the facts of a particular case in order to craft a defense strategy, such as showing the defendant did not have possession at all.
Actual or constructive possession of cocaine can lead to conviction on a possession charge. Actual possession involves drugs found on a person, while constructive possession refers to drugs found in a space under one’s control, such as in their car or home. Distribution charges can stem from an actual attempt to sell to another person or to manufacture a drug, but the intent to distribute is enough for a distribution charge too.
Section 893.13(6) of the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act makes possession of cocaine a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, and distribution of cocaine a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment. However, the penalties for distribution can increase if committed near a childcare facility, a grade school, a community center, a public housing facility, or a college campus.
Cocaine distribution offenses committed near these locations jump to first-degree felonies, which carry a sentence of up to 30 years imprisonment. Importantly, distribution carries a minimum sentence of 3 years imprisonment in some of these location-based cases.
Trafficking differs from possession and distribution by the weight of the cocaine involved. Section 893.135(b) of the Florida Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act defines cocaine trafficking as selling, buying, delivering, or having possession of more than 28 grams, but less than 150 kilograms, of cocaine. Trafficking is punishable as a first-degree felony.
Within that range, increasing weight thresholds lead to increased minimum penalties:
More than 150 kilograms leads to a first-degree felony with a sentence of life imprisonment and no chance of parole. Even worse, importing more than 300 kilograms of cocaine can lead to a charge of “capital importation of cocaine,” which is a capital felony and punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole, as well as the maximum fine of $250,000.
A Winter Garden attorney familiar with these cocaine thresholds could verify if the amount exceeded 28 grams and make sure that prosecutors are not overcharging the defendant. They could also determine the best defense strategy, whether that involves questioning the legality of investigation tactics, or asserting the defendant did not actually have possession of the drugs or an intent to sell.
The penalties for cocaine offenses in Florida are harsh and can scale up depending on your situation. Minimum sentencing and long jail terms jeopardize your freedom, but a criminal defense attorney with experience in drug cases could stand by you from the arrest through the trial.
A Winter Garden cocaine lawyer could evaluate your case and protect your constitutional rights. Call today for a consultation and to learn what you need to do to beat a cocaine-related offense.
The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys