Drug trafficking in the state of Florida typically involves large quantities of narcotics, such as cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, among others. However, what many people in Florida may not realize is that a very small amount of a prescription drug, known as “Flunitrazepam,” can give rise to felony drug trafficking charges. Flunitrazepam is the generic version of the brand-name drug, Rohypnol, which is a type of hypnotic used to treat various medical conditions under the direction of a physician. Flunitrazepam is a derivative of benzodiazepine. Because of the potent nature of the drug, Florida law is aggressive when it comes to the misuse and distribution of certain prescription drugs like Flunitrazepam.
Legitimate Medical Use of Flunitrazepam / Rohypnol
Flunitrazepam/Rohypnol is a benzodiazepine derivative, commonly referred to as “benzos,” which is a class of drugs that is highly regulated given the drugs’ potency. Examples of other “benzos” that are similar to Flunitrazepam include, among others, Valium, Ativan, Versed, Halcion, and Xanax. Flunitrazepam is not a commonly prescribed drug but may be indicated in some patients for the treatment of severe insomnia, anxiety, muscle relaxation, epilepsy/seizures, and alcohol withdrawals symptoms, among others. Additionally, Flunitrazepam is often used to assist with anesthesia and sedation during an operation or procedure.
The Addictive Nature of Flunitrazepam / Rohypnol
Benzodiazepines are known for being both physically and psychologically addictive, and many individuals can easily obtain benzodiazepines, like Flunitrazepam, on the streets. As such, benzodiazepines are frequently abused and are dangerous when consumed with alcohol. An overdose of any benzodiazepine can quickly stop a person’s heart without the immediate administration of an antidote. Because of the dangerous consequences associated with the misuse of benzodiazepines like Flunitrazepam, Florida has very strict Flunitrazepam laws.
Flunitrazepam is Also Known as a “Date Rape Drug” Commonly Referred to as Rohypnol
Flunitrazepam is unique from many other benzodiazepines in that it comes in the form of a colorless, odorless, and tasteless liquid that can be easily slipped into a drink. Given such a discrete formulation, Flunitrazepam is sometimes used as a “date rape drug.” Depending on how potent a dose is, the ingestion of Flunitrazepam may inhibit a person’s ability to adequately speak and resist an aggressor’s attack.
Trafficking in Rohypnol / Flunitrazepam – Florida Laws and Penalties
Per Florida Statute §893.135(1)(g)(1), it is unlawful for a person to knowingly sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, or bring 4 or more grams of Flunitrazepam (or any mixture containing Flunitrazepam) into the state of Florida. A person who commits such an act is charged with “trafficking in Flunitrazepam,” which is a first-degree felony under Florida law, resulting in a potential jail sentence of thirty years and tens of thousands of dollars in monetary fines.
However, the amount of Flunitrazepam at issue often dictates the penalties in terms of jail time and monetary fines. If the amount of Flunitrazepam at issue is 4 grams or more but less than 14 grams, a convicted person is sentenced to a mandatory minimum jail term of three years and must pay a fine of $50,000. If the amount of Flunitrazepam at issue is 14 grams or more but less than 28 grams, a convicted person is sentenced to a mandatory minimum jail term of seven years and must pay a fine of $100,000. If the amount of Flunitrazepam at issue is 28 grams or more but less than 30 kilograms, a convicted person is sentenced to a mandatory minimum jail term of twenty-five years and must pay a fine of $500,000.
If the amount of Flunitrazepam at issue is 30 kilograms or more, a convicted person faces life imprisonment without the possibility of discretionary early release except in cases where the convicted person is pardoned, given executive clemency, or upon conditional medical release. If a person convicted of trafficking 30 kilograms or more of Flunitrazepam also caused the death of another person in the course of committing the trafficking offense, the felony becomes a capital felony, whether the death of another person was intentional or not.
Defending Against Flunitrazepam / Rohypnol Trafficking Charges in Florida
Even the most “clear cut” criminal cases from a prosecutor’s perspective are defensible. All accused defendants deserve thorough and strong legal representation. A qualified Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer who evaluates a Flunitrazepam trafficking case will analyze all available facts and evidence to begin formulating the best defense. A skilled and experienced Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer will determine the types of arguments and motions that can be brought before the court to seek dismissal of charges.
While not every case will result in dismissal, the right lawyer will raise all potential defenses on legal and constitutional grounds to convince a court that dismissal is warranted. Common ways to seek dismissal of Flunitrazepam trafficking charges in Florida include, among others, the following:
- Filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence – Any evidence that is illegally obtained through an unlawful search and seizure may be excluded at trial. If a motion to suppress is granted, the prosecution may no longer have viable evidence to maintain charges against the defendant.
- Filing a Motion to Dismiss for Violation of a Defendant’s Constitutional Rights – If a law enforcement official violated a defendant’s constitutional rights at any point in a criminal matter (from the time of arrest and detention to the time of being charged), grounds may exist to dismiss a criminal case. For example, if a law enforcement officer failed to read a defendant his/her Miranda rights and/or elicited a false confession, a judge may grant a motion to dismiss.
- Filing a Motion to Dismiss Based on a Lack of Evidence – If the facts of a Flunitrazepam trafficking case do not support prosecution, based on Florida law, a defense lawyer may be successful in seeking dismissal of all charges. For example, if insufficient evidence exists that a defendant trafficked the required 4 grams of Flunitrazepam, then prosecutors have not met their burden under Florida’s Flunitrazepam trafficking statute.
Entering into a Plea Agreement in a Florida Flunitrazepam / Rohypnol Trafficking Case
When a Flunitrazepam trafficking case cannot be dismissed based on legal or constitutional grounds, the best option for a defendant may be to plead guilty to a less serious offense. Doing so may help to avoid substantial jail time and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Per Florida law, prosecutors can seek to reduce or suspend a sentence in cases where an accused person provides “substantial assistance” in identifying, arresting, or convicting accomplices to the alleged crime of Flunitrazepam trafficking. Because plea agreements are not for everyone, it is imperative to discuss all legal options with a qualified Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Contact the Florida Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyers of Musca Law to Protect Your Rights!
The misuse of Flunitrazepam and other heavily regulated prescription drugs can lead to catastrophic criminal charges under Florida law. The consequences of a Rohypnol trafficking conviction almost certainly means jail time and a felony on your record for life. At Musca Law, our nationally known Florida Criminal Defense Lawyers know what is at stake when facing drug trafficking charges and also know what is necessary to build the strongest possible defense strategy. To find out how Musca Law can represent your legal rights and interests, contact our office now 24/7 by calling (888) 484-5057.