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Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:11 pm
What is the Punishment for Drug Trafficking in Florida?
Florida has some of the toughest drug trafficking laws in the country. Even small amounts can lead to mandatory minimum prison sentences and huge fines. So what exactly are the punishments for drug trafficking convictions in Florida?
Let’s break down the key penalties based on the type and quantity of drugs involved. Understanding the harsh mandatory sentences is critical if facing trafficking charges.
Definition of Drug Trafficking
Florida statute 893.135 defines drug trafficking as knowingly selling, purchasing, manufacturing, delivering, or possessing certain illegal drugs above specified weight thresholds.
You don’t have to be caught in the act of dealing or transporting drugs. Just possessing amounts over the limits can lead to trafficking charges.
Mandatory Minimum Prison Sentences
A key aspect of Florida drug laws is mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking convictions. Judges have no discretion to lower prison terms below the minimums.
Minimum sentences range from 3 years up to life in prison depending on the drug amount. Fines up to $750,000 also apply.
For marijuana trafficking, minimum sentences are:
- 25 – 2000 lbs: 3 years
- 2000 – 10,000 lbs: 7 years
- Over 10,000 lbs: 15 years
Cocaine trafficking sentences include:
- 28 – 200 g: 3 years
- 200 – 400 g: 7 years
- Over 400 g: 15 years
Heroin above 30 kilograms triggers an automatic life sentence.
Other Drug Trafficking
Minimums for other drugs like oxycodone, fentanyl, LSD depend on the amounts and can reach up to 25 years in prison.
Penalties Increase with Drug Quantity
The more drugs involved, the harsher the mandatory minimum sentence becomes. Even small increases in weight can add years to prison time.
For example, 28-200g of cocaine is 3 years while 200-400g jumps to 7 years.
Fines Up to $750,000
In addition to years in prison, drug trafficking also carries mandatory fines in Florida. These range from $25,000 up to $750,000 depending on the quantity.
Those convicted of trafficking may also face civil asset forfeiture. This allows the government to seize property like vehicles, money, and homes tied to the drug trade.
Enhanced Penalties Near Schools or Parks
Trafficking drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, college, park, or other public spaces adds extra penalties. An additional 5 years is added to the mandatory minimum prison sentence.
Trafficking vs. Simple Possession
It’s important to note trafficking is different than simple drug possession. You can face trafficking for amounts over the threshold even if not selling.
But any amount under the limits is simple possession, a less serious felony or misdemeanor.
Defenses to Drug Trafficking Charges
Because penalties are so severe, those charged with trafficking need an experienced criminal defense attorney. An lawyer can raise defenses like:
- Illegal search leading to evidence being excluded
- Violation of rights during interrogation
- Insufficient evidence you knowingly possessed the drugs
- Entrapment by police
Challenging the validity of evidence or arguing you didn’t knowingly possess the drugs can sometimes lead to acquittal or reduced charges.
Providing Substantial Assistance
If evidence is overwhelming, another option is providing “substantial assistance” to police in identifying other traffickers. This allows the mandatory minimum to be waived or reduced.
But this cooperation agreement comes with risks and is not guaranteed.
Avoid Crossing State Lines
Trafficking drugs across state lines triggers federal charges with harsh penalties. Florida’s state mandatory minimums still apply too.
So transporting drugs from Florida to Georgia for example leads to a double prosecution – state and federal.
Getting Legal Help is Critical
Never attempt to handle drug trafficking charges without an attorney. The penalties are too severe to risk it.
An experienced lawyer can challenge evidence, raise defenses, and advise if cooperation is in your best interest. Don’t delay in getting professional help.
I hope this overview gives you a better understanding of the harsh punishment for drug trafficking convictions in Florida. Let me know if you have any other questions!