Defending Against Cocaine Drug Trafficking Charges in Florida
How to Beat a Florida Drug Trafficking Charge
If a person purchases, delivers, sells, manufactures, or transports cocaine into Florida from another state, that individual is committing the crime of "trafficking in illegal drugs." The amount of cocaine either possessed constructively or actually to be considered a trafficking offense is 28 grams, according to Florida Statute §893.135(c)(1). Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, meaning that the drug has a "high potential for abuse," leads to both physical dependence and severe psychological dependence, and is used in medicinal treatment under very restricted control.
When a person is arrested and charged with a Cocaine trafficking offense in the State of Florida, he or she could be sentenced to many years in prison if convicted. A conviction for "trafficking in illegal drugs" is punished with large fines, a criminal record, a lengthy probation period, a damaged reputation, and other severe consequences. In addition to the aforementioned consequences of a Cocaine trafficking conviction in Florida, if found guilty of cocaine trafficking, the defendant will receive a driver's license suspension, forfeiture of firearms, loss of firearm rights, forfeiture of property, and potential immigration difficulties since the crime is a felony.
When an individual has so much at risk, it is essential that anyone accused of drug trafficking talks with an experienced drug crimes defense lawyer. Contact a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in both Federal and Florida courts. A criminal defense attorney who has decades of legal experience defending clients, crafting drug trafficking defenses, and who is aggressive will increase the probability that the accused will avoid severe consequences.
Our Cocaine trafficking defense lawyers fight hard, and they have the experience to vigorously defend those charged with a cocaine trafficking charge. Our law firm defends clients throughout the State of Florida. Contact Musca Law at 888-484-5057 to learn your legal rights and understand your legal options.
What Establishes the Crime of Cocaine Trafficking in Florida?
Florida Section 893.135 explains the punishments for the different levels of cocaine trafficking in the State of Florida. If the defendant is found guilty of trafficking cocaine, the penalties will depend on the quantity of cocaine the defendant was found with them. Cocaine is an addictive narcotic, and the State of Florida charges all "trafficking in illegal drugs" as a felony. This means the defendant is facing multiple years in a state of federal prison.
What are the Penalties for Cocaine Trafficking into the State of Florida?
A charge of "trafficking in illegal drugs" involving Schedule II drug cocaine will bring a mandatory, minimum prison sentence of three years in a Florida state prison as long as the weight of the cocaine is 28 grams or less. The judge may sentence the defendant up to 5 years in prison. Also, if found guilty, the minimum fine will be $50,000.00.
If the defendant was found with "28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams," the defendant is facing up to 15 years in a Florida state prison and will be fined at least $50,000.00.
Should the cocaine trafficker be caught in possession and be convicted of trafficking 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams, the offender will face a fine of up to $100,00.00 and a mandatory, minimum prison sentence of 7-years in prison.
If the cocaine trafficker is caught in possession of possessing 400 grams or more, but less than 150 kilograms, the offender will face a fine of up to $250,00.00, plus a mandatory, minimum prison sentence of 15-years in prison.
If the defendant is knowingly in constructive possession or actual possession of 150 kilograms or more of cocaine, he or she has committed a felony in the first-degree. First-degree felony cocaine trafficking is punishable by life imprisonment. Also, he or she is automatically not eligible for early release unless by pardon, conditional medical release, or executive clemency.
Sentence Reductions for Informants
According to Florida Section 893.135(4), the State's attorneys are allowed to offer the accused a reduction in his or her prison sentence if the accused is able to provide information on high-level co-conspirators and criminal associates. The judge overseeing the criminal case of the defendant will review the proposal to decide if the accused provided law enforcement with any valuable information or assistance before the judge approves any proposal offered by the state prosecutors.
The Burden of Proof in Cocaine Trafficking Criminal Trials
In almost all criminal matters, the burden of proof falls on squarely upon the shoulders of the State prosecutors. The State prosecutors must show and prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the accused is guilty of all elements of the drug trafficking crime. These elements, which the State prosecutors must prove, are: the weight of the cocaine, the drug was cocaine, and the accused was in possession.
One item to understand is that the weight of the cocaine is determined by the mass of the drug, and not the purity of the drug seized. For example, if the cocaine seized contained a cutting agent mixed into the bag of cocaine, the total weight of the cocaine, along with the cutting agent, will be the weight used to determine how to charge the defendant.
Possession of a drug in the State of Florida falls into two separate categories, actual possession, and constructive possession. Actual possession means the defendant had the cocaine on his or her body, or the cocaine was in his or her possession at the moment of arrest. Constructive possession means the offender knew the location of the cocaine, knew it was cocaine, had access to the cocaine, and the accused was in the State of mind to have "control and dominion" of the cocaine. For example, the accused hid a bag of cocaine at his or her mother's house at the time of their arrest.
Example Defenses to Florida or Federal Cocaine Trafficking Charges
One of the most typical misunderstandings that people have regarding defending against a criminal charge is that "the defense" is argued during the criminal trial. The best time to defend against a cocaine trafficking charge is before and during the criminal trial. This type of defense is called a "pre-trial defense."
A "pre-trial defense" will dispute the constitutionality of the law enforcement officers' conduct before and during the arrest. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will file what is known as a "motion to suppress." A "motion to suppress" is a pre-trial legal pleading that asks the court to review the law enforcement officers' actions. For example, the police officer could have violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. For example, the defendant's attorney might argue that the police officers obtained a search warrant, but there wasn't enough information provided to the courts in order to bring a finding of probable cause. Without a proper finding of probable cause, the search warrant could become null and void. Therefore, any search and subsequent seizure without a legitimate warrant, and the subsequent arrest would not be just. The defendant could then ask the judge to find that the accused's detention was also unjust, and the court could suppress the evidence that was collected using the search warrant.
Another one of the key elements to defend against a cocaine trafficking charge is the issue of possession. In some drug trafficking cases, challenging the drug's nature or challenging the weight of the drug can produce a positive result for the defendant. However, the primary defense is showing that the State's attorneys did not prove possession beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless the State's lawyers can prove and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had "possession" of the cocaine, the judge or jury would likely acquit the accused of his or her "trafficking in illegal drugs" charge.
Discuss Your Case with our Aggressive Cocaine Trafficking Defense Lawyers at Musca Law
Musca Law's Cocaine trafficking attorneys are ready to explain your legal rights and discuss your legal options in your case. Call us today at 1-888-484-5057 for your free case analysis.