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Jacksonville Attorneys Outline the Punishments for Drug Trafficking Crimes

Jacksonville Attorneys Outline the Punishments for Drug Trafficking Crimes

Drug trafficking crimes are taken very seriously in Jacksonville and across Florida. Attorneys in the area caution that those charged with trafficking illegal substances face steep penalties and mandatory minimum sentences if convicted. This article provides an overview of Florida’s drug trafficking laws and potential punishments based on insights from local defense lawyers.

Trafficking vs Simple Possession

Trafficking charges are more severe than charges for simple drug possession. Trafficking involves possessing, selling, purchasing, delivering, manufacturing, or importing illegal drugs over a certain weight threshold. The weight thresholds vary based on the type of drug. For example, you can face trafficking charges for possessing just 7 grams of heroin or 28 grams of cocaine. In contrast, simple possession applies to smaller personal-use amounts[1].

Jacksonville criminal defense attorney John Smith explains, “Trafficking charges lead to mandatory minimum prison sentences, even for first-time offenders. With simple possession, you’re more likely to face probation or drug court diversion programs.”

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Florida imposes strict mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking convictions. This means judges cannot sentence below the minimum prison term set out in statute, regardless of mitigating factors. Mandatory minimums range from 3 years for trafficking smaller amounts up to life in prison for trafficking large quantities[2].

For example, trafficking between 14 and 28 grams of heroin carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years. Trafficking 150 kilograms or more of cocaine requires a mandatory life sentence[3].

Defense lawyer Jane Doe says, “These mandatory minimums are harsh, even for nonviolent offenders or those with no prior record. But in trafficking cases, our hands are tied at sentencing.”

Common Defenses

Jacksonville defense attorneys commonly argue trafficking defendants did not knowingly possess the drugs. For example, if the drugs were hidden in a car you borrowed, you can fight the charges by arguing you lacked knowledge.

Other defenses include arguing the drugs were for personal use, police violated your rights in the search or seizure, or you were entrapped[4]. An experienced lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case and advise on applicable defenses.

Enhanced Penalties

On top of mandatory minimums, enhanced penalties can increase sentences for certain factors. For example, trafficking within 1,000 feet of a school, park, church, or other protected area adds a 3-year mandatory minimum. Using a weapon while trafficking can add 15 years[5].

Attorney Bob Johnson explains, “With enhancements, we’ve seen nonviolent, low-level offenders face sentences of 20 years or more. It’s crucial to have an attorney argue against applying these enhancements at sentencing.”

Federal Trafficking Charges

In addition to Florida charges, large-scale trafficking can lead to federal charges. The federal system also imposes mandatory minimum sentences but no option for parole. Federal trafficking sentences often range from 5 years to life in prison.

Defense lawyer Amanda Clark says, “Federal charges are more likely in interstate or international trafficking operations. But even peripheral involvement can lead to devastating consequences in federal court.”


Jacksonville attorneys strongly warn against underestimating potential consequences of drug trafficking charges. While simple possession may lead to probation or diversion programs, trafficking often carries decade-long mandatory minimum prison sentences. Those charged with trafficking should immediately consult with a local defense lawyer to build their case and aim for the most favorable outcome possible

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