In the State of Florida, if an individual purchases, sells, delivers, manufactures, or brings into Florida from another state's jurisdiction, or possesses, either constructively or actually, four grams of heroin is committing the crime of Heroin trafficking, according to Florida Statute §893.135(c)(1). In the State of Florida, a drug trafficking charge is called "trafficking in illegal drugs."
If an individual has been arrested and charged with a heroin trafficking crime in Florida, he or she is facing a substantial amount of time behind bars if convicted. In addition to jail time, other punishments include large fines, lengthy probation, a criminal record, and other life-long consequences. Additional potential consequences if found guilty of a Heroin trafficking charge in Florida, including driver's license suspension, potential immigration difficulties, forfeiture of firearms, forfeiture of property, and a loss of gun ownership privileges because the crime is a felony.
With so much at stake, it is very important that the accused explores all of his or her legal options with an experienced drug crime defense attorney who is well versed in both Federal and Florida heroin trafficking laws. An attorney who has significant legal experience in crafting drug trafficking defenses will significantly help the accused avoid the severe consequences of a heroin trafficking conviction.
Our heroin trafficking defense attorneys have the skill, knowledge, and experience to provide the most effective heroin trafficking defense. Our firm represents clients throughout the State of Florida. Our heroin drug trafficking attorneys mount a vigorous defense on behalf of our clients. If you need a hardworking and aggressive attorney to defend you against a heroin trafficking charges in Florida, contact Musca Law at 888-484-5057. Learn your legal rights and understand your options when you speak with one of our accomplished Florida Heroin trafficking defense attorneys.
What Establishes the Crime of Heroin Drug Trafficking in the State of Florida?
Florida Section 893.135 details the penalties for the various levels of heroin trafficking in the State of Florida. If found guilty of the crime, the punishments will depend on the amount of heroin found in possession of the alleged offender. Heroin is a dangerous and highly addictive narcotic, and regardless of the amount of heroin, a charge of "trafficking in illegal drugs" is a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony is punishable with up to 30 years in a Florida state prison. In the State of Florida, to traffic, at least 4 grams of heroin will bring a first-degree felony charge of "trafficking in illegal drugs," according to Florida Statute §893.135(c)(1).
What are the Penalties for Heroin Trafficking into the State of Florida?
A charge of "trafficking in illegal drugs" involving heroin will bring a mandatory, minimum sentence of three years in state prison as long as the weight of the heroin is fourteen grams or less. The judge may sentence the convicted offender up to 5 years in prison. The minimum fine, if found guilty, is $50,000.00.
If the amount of heroin is at least fourteen grams, but not more than 28 grams, the defendant could face up to 15 years in prison and receive a fine of $100,000.00 or more.
If the alleged heroin trafficker is caught in possession of 28 grams or one ounce, but less than 30 kilograms of heroin, if convicted, the offender will be facing a fine of up to $500,000.00, and a mandatory, minimum prison sentence of 25-years.
Under Florida Section 893.135(4), state prosecutors are permitted to offer the offender an opportunity to inform on criminal associates and co-conspirators to receive a reduction in a prison sentence. The judge needs to review any such proposal to determine whether the accused gave law enforcement valuable assistance prior to approving a prison sentence reduction proposed by state prosecutors.
Example Defenses to Florida or Federal Heroin Trafficking Charges
As in most criminal cases, the burden of proof falls on the shoulders of the state prosecutor. An individual is innocent until the state prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of a crime. The state prosecutors must also prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant is guilty of all key elements of the charge. The elements that the state prosecutors must prove are the proof of weight, proof the drug was heroin, and possession of heroin by the accused.
The weight of the heroin is decided by the mass and not purity of the heroin seized. In other words, if the heroin contains a cutting agent incorporated with the bag of heroin, then the total weight of the drug, including the cutting agent, will equal the total weight used to determine the charge.
Actual Versus Constructive Drug Possession in Trafficking Charges
Possession falls into two different categories, actual or constructive. Actual drug possession means that the accused has the drug on his body or in his possession at the time of the arrest. Constructive drug possession means that the offender knows where the drugs are, knows what type of drug that it is, and the offender has access to the drugs, and the offender has the state of mind to have "control and dominion" over the drug. For example, the offender has illegal drugs stashed in a storage unit when he or she is arrested.
A common misunderstanding people have about defending against criminal charges is that the defense is introduced during the criminal trial. However, the best opportunity to defend against a heroin drug traffic charge is to assert the defense before the criminal prosecution and during the criminal trial.
A pre-trial defense includes disputing the constitutionality of the law enforcement investigators' conduct. The defense attorney will file what is called a "motion to suppress." A motion to suppress is a legal pleading that petitions the court to examine the police officers' actions. For example, the law enforcement officer may have violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. For example, the accused might contend that law enforcement officers secured a search warrant, which didn't contain enough evidence or information that would bring a finding of probable cause. This would make the search warrant null and void. Any seizure of contraband without a legitimate warrant and subsequent arrest would be unjust. The accused could ask the judge to determine that their detention was unjust, and the court might suppress any evidence collected under the search warrant.
One of the key elements in defending against Heroin trafficking charges is the issue of possession. In some cases, challenging the weight of the drug or challenging the drug's nature will produce a positive result. But the primary defense is showing that the state's prosecution did not prove possession. Unless the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant possessed the heroin, the jury or judge will likely acquit the defendant of "trafficking in illegal drugs."
Speak with Our Experienced and Aggressive Heroin Trafficking Defense Lawyers
Musca Law's Heroin trafficking lawyers are ready to discuss your legal rights and the options you have in your case. Call us today at 1-888-484-5057 for your free case analysis.