Defending Against Opioid Drug Trafficking Charges in Florida
The person charged with opioid trafficking offenses in Florida could face an incredibly harsh prison sentence and ordered to pay a huge fine. Therefore, exploring all legal options with attorneys who understand Florida’s opioid trafficking laws and who have tremendous experience crafting defenses that could help someone accused of trafficking opioids in Florida avoid the severe consequences of a conviction for opioid trafficking.
The person convicted of opium trafficking faces significant prison time as well as severe collateral consequences. Just some of the potential collateral legal issues that stem from a conviction for opioid trafficking in Florida include potential immigration difficulties, driver’s license suspension, and forfeiture of firearms privileges as a person convicted for a drug felony.
Musca Law’s opioid trafficking defense lawyers have the experience, skill, and knowledge to defend opioid trafficking charges in Florida. By taking an aggressive approach to representation, Musca Law’s opioid trafficking lawyers can mount a vigorous defense of opioid trafficking charges in Florida. No two cases are alike. Therefore, contacting Musca Law at 888-484-5057 to consult with one of Musca Law’s accomplished Florida opioid trafficking defense attorneys is the best way to mount a defense and preserve your freedom.
What Constitutes Opioid Drug Trafficking in the State of Florida?
Section 893.135 of the Florida Statutes sets out the penalties for opioid trafficking. The penalties depend on the weight of the drug when tested as well as the type of controlled substance found in the mixture. Substances defined as opioids include opium in various forms, morphine, and heroin. Opioid-based prescription medications like oxycodone, codeine, OxyContin, Vicodin, and others, also fall into the category of opioids. However, Florida law breaks down its trafficking crimes based on the substance in the issue. Moreover, Florida amended §893.135 to include a separate crime for fentanyl trafficking.
Because opioid drugs are highly addictive, readily available, and frequently abuse, trafficking of opioids is a first-degree felony and punishable up to 30 years in the Florida state prison. The minimum threshold weight for trafficking is only four grams. Therefore, any person who purchases sells delivers, manufactures, brings into Florida from another jurisdiction, or possesses, either actually or constructively, four grams of an opioid or opioid derivative is guilty of opioid trafficking, which §893.135(c)(1), calls “trafficking in illegal drugs.”
What are the Penalties for Opioid Drug Trafficking in the State of Florida?
The minimum-mandatory sentence for trafficking in illegal drugs is three years, provided that the weight of the opioids does not exceed fourteen grams. The minimum fine is $50,000.00 as well. The penalty for trafficking in illegal drugs weighing at least fourteen grams but no more than 28 grams is fifteen years committed to the state prison, along with a fine of no less than $100,000.00. Finally, a person convicted of trafficking in illegal drugs weighing 28 grams or one ounce, but not more than 30 kilograms must severe a 25-year minimum-mandatory sentence and pay a fine of $500,00.00.
What are the Penalties for Fentanyl Drug Trafficking in Florida?
Trafficking in fentanyl and its derivatives is a first-degree felony and has identical penalties as trafficking in illegal drugs. However, trafficking in hydrocodone or oxycodone has slightly different penalties. Both crimes are first-degree felonies. Yet, the weight of the drugs associated with minimum-mandatory sentences vary. For hydrocodone, the trafficking weight is 28 grams and seven grams for oxycodone.
Trafficking in illegal drugs is a life felony when the weight of the narcotics, including hydrocodone and oxycodone, exceeds 30 kilograms. The crime is called “first-degree trafficking in illegal drugs.” The punishment for first-degree trafficking in illegal drugs is life imprisonment without the potential for early release. However, Florida law allows for capital punishment if the weight of the narcotics is over 60 kilograms or someone died as a result of the first-degree trafficking in illegal drugs.
None of the penalties imposed under §893.135 can be suspended or served as a split-sentence. No one will receive an early release and must serve the minimum-mandatory time unless the government agrees to do so based on cooperation by the offender. Section 893.135(4) gives the prosecution permission to permit the offender to inform on associates and co-conspirators in exchange for a reduction in sentence. The judge must review the proposal to ascertain whether the accused provided substantial assistance before approving the reduction proposed by the state.
The government, as always, has the burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on all elements of the charges. The elements that the government must prove include proof of weight, the nature of the substance or mixture, and possession of the drugs by the accused.
The weight of the drugs is determined by the mass of the entire sample and not purity. Therefore, if there is a cutting agent mixed in with the narcotics, then the weight of the active drug and cut combines for the total weight.
Possession can be either actual or constructive. Actual possession is simply a matter of having the number of drugs on one’s person, such as in a pocket. Constructive possession is vaguer. Having constructive possession over an item means that the person knows where the item is, knows what the item is, has access to the item, and has the state of mind to exercise “dominion and control” over the item.
Potential Defenses to Florida or Federal Opioid Drug Trafficking Charges
Defenses to trafficking in opioid charges can be asserted before and during the trial. Pre-trial defenses include challenging the constitutionality of the drug investigators’ conduct by filing motions to suppress. Motions to suppress are the legal pleading that asks the court to scrutinize the law enforcement officers’ actions for a violation of the accused’s fourth amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Therefore, depending on the case, the accused could argue that the police obtained a search warrant that did not have enough information to permit a finding of probable cause. If the contraband was seized without a warrant, then the accused could ask the judge to find that the detention of the accused was unjust under the circumstances, and the court should suppress the evidence.
Trial defenses in opioid trafficking cases center around the issue of possession. Occasionally, contesting the nature of the substance or the weight of the drug will produce positive results. However, the primary defense is arguing the state has not proved possession. The accused must be acquitted unless the state proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused possessed the opioids as alleged. If not, then the jury or judge must acquit the accused.
Speak With Our Aggressive Opioid Trafficking Defense Attorneys
Contact Musca Law’s prescription drug trafficking lawyers for your free case review today by calling 1-888-484-5057. You will give yourself the advantage you need to preserve your freedom by calling Musca Law today.