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Pensacola Criminal Defense Attorneys Describe How to Beat Drug Trafficking Charges

Pensacola Criminal Defense Attorneys Describe How to Beat Drug Trafficking Charges

Drug trafficking charges in Pensacola can lead to severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and heavy fines. That’s why having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is crucial for mounting a strong defense. The attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC have over 50 years of combined experience defending clients against complex criminal allegations like drug trafficking.

In this article, we’ll describe some of the most effective legal defenses and strategies for fighting drug trafficking charges in Pensacola and the surrounding areas.

Questioning the Chain of Custody

The prosecution has to prove that the substance in question is actually an illegal drug. A skilled attorney will scrutinize the chain of custody documentation to look for any gaps or irregularities. If the police mishandled evidence or there are questions about possible tampering or contamination, then the defense can argue that the prosecution cannot verify the nature of the seized substance beyond a reasonable doubt.

Arguing Insufficient Evidence of Intent to Distribute

For a drug trafficking conviction, the prosecution has to prove you possessed drugs with the intent to manufacture, deliver, or distribute them. But if the quantity of drugs was small, consistent with personal use, your lawyer can argue there is insufficient evidence of intent to distribute.

Factors like the absence of distribution materials (scales, baggies, ledger, cash, etc.), no documented sales, and no admissions of selling drugs can all create reasonable doubt about intent.

Using Medical Marijuana Protections

If the drug in question is marijuana, your attorney can explore possible medical marijuana defenses. For example, if you have a valid medical marijuana card, you may be exempt from criminal charges for possession. Or if you have a documented condition that qualifies for medical marijuana use, we can argue you should face lesser charges for personal possession rather than trafficking.

Fighting Constructive Possession Charges

Prosecutors often pursue “constructive possession” charges, accusing you of possessing drugs that were not on your person but rather somewhere you had control over, like your car or home. But if others had equal access to the areas where drugs were found, your lawyer can fight these charges by arguing insufficient proof you knowingly possessed the substances.

Using Entrapment Defenses

If the police used coercive tactics to push you into committing a drug crime you otherwise wouldn’t have, we may be able to argue entrapment. This is a valid defense against trafficking charges, especially if the police pressured you multiple times to procure or distribute drugs.

Negotiating Lesser Charges in Plea Bargains

Rather than risk the significant penalties of a drug trafficking conviction at trial, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal to lesser charges like simple drug possession. This carries much lower sentences and avoids the lifelong ramifications of a felony trafficking conviction.

Getting Charges Dismissed through Pretrial Diversion

First-time offenders may be eligible for pretrial diversion programs like Drug Court or ARD. These programs allow you to avoid conviction if you complete supervised probation, treatment, and other conditions. If successful, the charges are dismissed.

Challenging the Constitutionality of Mandatory Minimums

Many drug trafficking charges come with strict mandatory minimum prison sentences. But in some cases, defense attorneys have succeeded in arguing these mandatory minimums are unconstitutional, leading judges to waive the minimums and impose lesser sentences.

Cooperating Against Co-Defendants

If you were arrested as part of a larger drug sting involving multiple defendants, prosecutors may be willing to drop or reduce your charges in exchange for cooperation and testimony against the other defendants. While not easy to stomach, this option can sometimes lead to dismissed charges.

Seeking Drug Addiction Treatment

If you have a substance abuse problem, voluntarily entering and completing a rigorous drug treatment program before trial can persuade the judge to impose a more lenient sentence. Your rehab participation shows you’re taking steps to overcome addiction and avoid re-offending.

Highlighting Sentencing Disparities

Your attorney may argue that the mandated penalties for your trafficking charges are unjustly disproportionate compared to sentences for otherwise similar crimes. If the judge agrees, you may receive a reduced sentence.

Getting Charges Dismissed due to Illegal Police Conduct

Sometimes police get overzealous in their pursuit of drug arrests and violate defendants’ rights in the process. If the police engaged in illegal conduct – like planting evidence, lying about the events, or using excessive force during the arrest – your attorney can file a motion to dismiss based on outrageous government conduct.

Arguing Sentencing Entrapment

If undercover police pushed or tricked you into trafficking larger quantities of drugs versus what you’d normally distribute, your lawyer can argue sentencing entrapment. Since penalties increase sharply with drug quantity, this unlawful police conduct can be grounds for a reduced sentence.

Contesting the Drug Type and Weight

The specific drug type and weight factor heavily into the charges and penalties, so inaccuracies can work in your favor. Your attorney will scrutinize the drug lab reports to look for possible mistakes in identifying the substance and weighing it. Any ambiguity could lead to reduced charges.

Introducing Evidence of Good Character

At trial or sentencing, your lawyer can call witnesses like employers, teachers, and community members to testify about your good character. This can help combat assumptions that you’re just a common “drug dealer” and persuade the judge to be more lenient.

Arguing for Drug Court

Florida law provides judges discretion to waive mandatory minimums if they determine a defendant would benefit from drug court. Your attorney can argue you deserve this second chance to avoid prison and get addiction treatment.

As you can see, an experienced criminal defense attorney has many strategies to pursue in fighting drug trafficking allegations. The skilled lawyers at Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC[1] have a proven record of success in defending against drug charges and getting favorable outcomes for our clients. Every case is different, but with our sharp legal minds on your side, you can be confident your rights will be protected.

If you or a loved one face drug trafficking charges in Pensacola, don’t leave your fate to chance. Call Worgul, Sarna & Ness today at (850) 432-8300 for a free case evaluation and start crafting your customized legal defense strategy. With our decades of combined experience, we have what it takes to beat drug trafficking charges.

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