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Tampa Attorneys Outline Drug Trafficking Punishments in Florida


Tampa Attorneys Outline Drug Trafficking Punishments in Florida

Drug trafficking is a big problem here in Florida. Our state has some of the toughest drug trafficking laws in the country. As Tampa attorneys, we see the effects of these laws on a daily basis. In this article, we aim to outline the punishments for drug trafficking in Florida so people can understand the serious consequences they face if convicted.

Let’s start with the basics. Florida Statute 893.135 covers drug trafficking offenses. Under this law, you commit a trafficking offense if you knowingly sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, or bring into Florida certain controlled substances over a specified weight limit. The weight limits and minimum mandatory sentences vary based on the drug involved.

For example, you face a minimum 3 year prison sentence if convicted of trafficking just 28 grams or more of cocaine. Trafficking larger amounts leads to much stiffer sentences – like 25 years to life for 280 grams or more. Marijuana trafficking also carries steep punishments, with just 25 lbs. leading to a 3 year mandatory minimum sentence. You can see why we say Florida has some of the toughest drug trafficking laws in the U.S.

These laws apply to both illegal drugs like cocaine and legal prescription drugs like hydrocodone. You don’t have to be a stereotypical “drug dealer” to face trafficking charges. We’ve seen doctors, pharmacists, and everyday folks charged for trafficking prescription meds.

It’s also important to note that you can face trafficking charges even if you never sold any drugs. Simply possessing a trafficking amount makes you eligible for prosecution. For example, having 30 grams of morphine in your possession – even if just for personal use – exposes you to a 25 year mandatory minimum sentence.

The penalties for actually selling drugs are even harsher. For instance, selling just a few hydrocodone pills to a friend can trigger Florida’s “drug dealer” sentencing enhancement. This adds another 5 years minimum to your sentence on top of the trafficking mandatory minimums.

You may think there’s no way to avoid such steep sentences. But an experienced Tampa drug trafficking attorney may be able to help you in several ways:

  • We can argue you didn’t “knowingly” possess or sell the drugs. For instance, maybe a friend left drugs in your car that you didn’t know about.
  • We can challenge whether the substances found are actually illegal drugs through independent drug testing.
  • We can argue you were entrapped by police into committing the offense.
  • We may be able to get evidence thrown out due to an illegal search.

In addition, an attorney can often negotiate with the prosecution to reduce the charges against you in return for a guilty plea. Prosecutors know these drug trafficking cases often have issues that could lead to acquittal at trial. So they’re sometimes willing to drop the trafficking charge in exchange for a plea to simple drug possession.

Let’s take a closer look at the most commonly charged drug trafficking offenses in Florida:

Cocaine Trafficking

Cocaine trafficking charges kick in at just 28 grams of cocaine or a mixture containing cocaine under Florida Statute 893.135. This small amount exposes you to a 3 year mandatory minimum prison sentence and a $50,000 fine. As the quantity increases, so do the penalties:

  • 200g – 7 year minimum
  • 400g – 15 year minimum
  • 150kg – life sentence

These are huge sentences for first time offenders. But an experienced trafficking attorney may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed. For example, we’ve seen cases where most of the “cocaine” was actually legal numbing agents used by dentists. Independent lab testing revealed only a tiny fraction was actual cocaine – not enough to qualify as trafficking under the law.

Marijuana Trafficking

Marijuana trafficking also carries stiff penalties, though not quite as severe as cocaine. Under Florida law, you face a 3 year minimum sentence if caught with just 25 lbs of marijuana. Here are the key marijuana trafficking thresholds:

  • 25 – 2,000 lbs: 3 year minimum
  • 2,000 – 10,000 lbs: 7 year minimum
  • 10,000+ lbs: 15 year minimum

In addition to prison time, these convictions also carry large fines, such as a $25,000 fine for 25-2,000 lbs. And if caught near a school or park, there are enhanced penalties on top of the mandatory minimums.

Many people don’t realize that concentrated THC oils and edibles are treated the same as traditional marijuana under the law. For example, just 4 grams of THC oil qualifies as trafficking with a 3 year minimum sentence.

Prescription Drug Trafficking

You may be shocked to learn that trafficking charges also apply to prescription medications. Under Florida law, legal meds like oxycodone and hydrocodone become illegal to possess if you go over a certain quantity. Here are some common prescription trafficking thresholds:

  • Oxycodone – 7 grams
  • Hydrocodone – 14 grams
  • Hydromorphone – 4 grams
  • Morphine – 4 grams

We’ve seen pain management doctors prosecuted for prescribing patients just a few too many pills. We’ve also seen relatives of deceased cancer patients charged with trafficking for simply possessing the medications left behind. These laws cast a wide net that can ensnare even lawful prescription holders.

Trafficking Defenses That Work

Fortunately, there are defenses that an experienced attorney can use to fight these charges. Here are some of the most effective legal strategies we employ in trafficking cases:

  • Lack of Knowledge – We can argue you never knowingly possessed or sold the drugs. For example, maybe a friend hid drugs in your backpack without your knowledge.
  • Entrapment – We may be able to show police improperly induced you into committing the crime.
  • Improper Search – If police performed an illegal search, any evidence found may be suppressed.
  • Testing – Independent lab tests may show the alleged drugs are not actually illegal substances.

In addition, we analyze every trafficking case for constitutional violations. Anything from an improper traffic stop to issues with how the drugs were weighed could lead to suppression of evidence. Without the drugs themselves, the entire case falls apart.

An experienced attorney can also put pressure on prosecutors to reduce charges in exchange for a plea bargain. While reductions are rare for major traffickers, we’ve had good success negotiating reductions for first-time offenders caught with small amounts. Prosecutors know juries often sympathize with such defendants.

Let a Former Prosecutor Defend Your Rights

Never try to navigate a drug trafficking charge without an experienced criminal defense attorney. The penalties are simply too steep. As former prosecutors, we know how these cases work from both sides. We use our insider knowledge of the system to protect our clients’ rights and futures.

We offer free case reviews to anyone facing trafficking charges in Tampa or elsewhere in Florida. Call us 24/7 at (813) 555-1234 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Don’t wait – the sooner you have an attorney in your corner, the better.

Schedule Your Consultation Now