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Drug Trafficking

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is a highly prosecuted offense in Florida. When an individual is caught by law enforcement with a large quantity of controlled substances, they can be charged with drug trafficking. The offense can be charged by the State and by the Federal government.

Trafficking illicit drugs from Florida into other states has become a commonly charged offense due to the increase of unlawful pain clinics and “pill mills” in the Sunshine State. Sometimes legitimate doctors unknowingly prescribe patients additional quantities of controlled substances they have already been prescribed by another doctor. These mistakes lead to drugs that end up on the black market.

If these people cross state lines with large quantities of controlled substances or numerous prescriptions, the doctors and patients both can be charged with drug trafficking. Drug trafficking often is defined as the purchase and sale of illegal drugs, or the manufacture, delivery or importation of illegal drugs across state or national borders.

Drug trafficking also can occur throughout the state, which means this offense can be charged as a federal offense, a Florida state offense or both. Both the federal charge and state charge carry severe punishments with prison time, fines or both. A drug lawyer in Tallahassee can help.

Tallahassee Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with drug trafficking in Leon County, it is important to hire an attorney who will seek to reduce your charges or have them dismissed depending on the facts of your case. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law are experienced with drug trafficking defense and Florida drug trafficking laws.

Pumphrey Law represents clients charged with crimes in Leon County and the surrounding areas throughout Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit including Bristol in Liberty County, Crawfordville in Wakulla County, Monticello in Jefferson County and Quincy in Gadsden County. Call (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation.

Defining Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is defined as the illegal transporting or transacting in controlled substances. A person can be charged with drug trafficking for the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of controlled substances which are otherwise illegal. When people think of drug trafficking, they likely imagine the leader of a drug trafficking organization. However, it is not always the case. A person can be charged with drug trafficking even if they are not considered a “drug dealer.”

Trafficking controlled substances are both a State and Federal crime. If you have over a specified amount of a controlled substance in your possession, you may be charged with a drug trafficking offense.


Information About Drug Trafficking


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Charges for Drug Trafficking in Florida

Florida Statutes § 893.13 states that it is unlawful for any person to sell, manufacture, deliver, or possess a controlled substance with the intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver.

That means anyone who delivers or sells a controlled substance can be charged with drug trafficking. If a person travels from another state into Florida, while in possession of a controlled substance, he or she can be charged with drug trafficking as well.

Commonly trafficked controlled substances can include a variety of narcotics, such as illegal drugs and prescription pills. Some examples include:

The severity of drug trafficking charges typically is based on the classification and the seriousness of the drug. For example, trafficking marijuana could have less severe penalties than trafficking hydrocodone. However, the amount of the drug in the person’s possession also has an effect on the severity of the charges.

If the amount of drug possessed was small, an attorney could argue you were not trafficking the drug and that it was for personal consumption only. A Tallahassee drug defense lawyer can help fight to have the charges reduced to possession of a controlled substance or have the charges dropped.


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Florida’s Schedule of Drugs

Under Florida Statutes Section 893.03, controlled substances in Florida are classified from Schedule I to Schedule V, depending on the substance’s potential for abuse and whether it has accepted medical uses for the substance exist.

  • Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and no acknowledged medical use in the United States. Examples in this schedule are GHB and heroin.
  • Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and a very limited accepted medical use in the United States. Some examples of the controlled substances are cocaine, Oxycodone and Codeine.
  • Schedule III drugs have a lower potential for abuse and have accepted medical uses. Examples in this schedule include barbituric acid and anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule IV drugs have an even lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs and have commonly accepted medical uses in the United States.
  • Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and commonly accepted medical uses in the United States.

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Florida’s Drug Trafficking Thresholds

In order for law enforcement to charge a person with drug trafficking, it implies that the accused person has met or exceeded Florida’s drug trafficking threshold. The following is a list of the minimum threshold quantity to charge a person with drug trafficking, based on the State’s most encountered substances:

  • Cannabis – 25lbs or 300 marijuana plants
  • Cocaine – 28 grams
  • Fentanyl – 4 grams
  • GHB – 1 kilogram
  • Hydrocodone – 14 grams
  • Heroin – 4 grams
  • LSD – 1 gram
  • Ecstasy (MDMA) – 10 grams
  • Oxycodone – 7 grams

A person who meets these thresholds is likely to be charged with drug trafficking in Florida. As these are just the minimum quantities required to charge a person with trafficking, the penalties become more severe as the quantity of the substance increases.

Penalties for Drug Trafficking in Florida

The penalties for drug trafficking in Florida are unique to the offense. Florida Statutes § 893.135 outlines some of the possible penalties for the offense, based on the type of drug trafficked and the amount. A conviction for drug trafficking in Florida can be a felony, depending on the amount trafficked, the type of controlled substance and whether death or serious bodily injured occurred as a result of the offense.

Two of the most commonly trafficked drugs in Florida are marijuana and cocaine. According to Florida Statutes § 893.135, the penalties associated with these two drugs include:

Marijuana

  • Amounts between 25-2,000 pounds
    Three years in prison and a $25,000 fine
  • Amounts between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds
    Mandatory seven-year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine
  • Amounts more than 10,000 pounds
    15-year mandatory prison sentence and a $200,000 fine

Cocaine

  • Amounts between 28 and 200 grams
    Minimum of three years in prison and a $50,000 fine
  • Amounts between 200 and 400 grams
    Minimum of seven years in prison and a $100,000 fine
  • Amounts between 400 grams and 150 kilograms
    Minimum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine
  • Amounts more than 150 kilograms
    Life in prison without the possibility of parole

Generally, a conviction for drug trafficking first-degree felony can include up to 30 years or life in Florida prison, depending on the offense, and up to $10,000 in fines.

As the amount of the controlled substance being trafficked increases, penalties can increase, with mandatory minimum prison sentences and greatly increased fines. A capital felony incurs a death sentence, or in some cases, life imprisonment without the option of parole.


Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Drug Trafficking

As the amount of the controlled substance being trafficked increases, penalties can increase, with mandatory minimum prison sentences and greatly increased fines. A capital felony incurs a death sentence, or in some cases, life imprisonment without the option of parole.

The following is a list of mandatory minimum sentencing for other controlled substances in Florida:

Trafficking Fentanyl

  • Between 4 and 14 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine
  • Between 14 and 28 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a $100,000 fine
  • Between 28 grams but less than 30 kilograms – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years and a $500,000 fine

Trafficking Heroin

  • Between 4 and 14 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine
  • Between 14 and 28 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a $100,000 fine
  • Between 28 grams but less than 30 kilograms – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years and a $500,000 fine
  • 30 kilograms or more – Life imprisonment and a $500,000 fine

Trafficking GHB

    • Between 1 kilogram but less than 5 kilograms – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine
    • Between 5 kilograms but less than 10 kilograms – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 7 years and a $100,000 fine
    • 10 kilograms or more – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a $250,000 fine

Trafficking Hydrocodone

  • Over 14 grams but less than 28 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine
  • Over 28 grams but less than 50 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 7 years and a $100,000 fine
  • Over 50 grams but less than 200 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a $100,000 fine
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years and a $750,000 fine

Trafficking LSD

  • 1 gram or more, but less than 5 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine
  • Between 5 grams but less than 7 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 7 years and a $100,000 fine
  • 7 grams or more – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a $500,000 fine

Trafficking Ecstasy (MDMA)

  • 10 grams or more, but less than 200 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 7 years and a $100,000 fine
  • 400 grams or more – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a $250,000 fine

Trafficking Methamphetamine

  • 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine
  • 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 7 years and a $100,000 fine
  • 200 grams or more – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a $250,000 fine

Trafficking Oxycodone

  • 7 grams or more, but less than 14 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 years and a $50,000 fine
  • 14 grams or more, but less than 25 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 7 years and a $100,000 fine
  • 25 grams or more, but less than 100 grams – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 15 years and a $500,000 fine
  • 100 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms – Mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years and a $750,000 fine

In a criminal case involving drug trafficking, the mandatory minimum sentence is in place as the sentencing floor. That means a judge cannot sentence a person convicted of drug trafficking anything less than what the statute states are the mandatory minimum sentence.

Important: One important note is that not all individuals convicted of drug trafficking are eligible for early termination. Those who are not subject to early termination generally have been sentenced to the harshest penalty. For example, individuals convicted of trafficking more than 150 kilograms of cocaine are not subject to early release (the exception include pardons, clemency, or early medical release). A person who brings in 150 kilograms of cocaine to the state has committed a first-degree felony and is subject to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Individuals who are convicted of a lower offense trafficking crime may be subject to early release via incentive gain time. As long as the convicted person maintains good behavior while incarcerated, they may only be required to serve 85% of their mandatory minimum sentence.

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Federal Drug Trafficking Offenses

Under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. §§ 801 et seq.), it is a federal offense to manufacture, import, distribute or traffic controlled substances with the intent to sell the controlled substances either across state borders, throughout the state or from a foreign country into Florida.

The federal Controlled Substances Act also lists and classifies drugs as most serious with the greatest likelihood of abuse (Schedule I) to least serious with hardly any potential for abuse (Schedule V). Penalties for drug trafficking can vary depending on which schedule the controlled substance falls into. Federal charges often are more severe, and a few examples of penalties include:

  • If no prior convictions, 10 years to life in federal prison
  • If death or serious bodily injury results from the offense, or the alleged offender already has one prior conviction, 20 years to life in federal prison
  • If two or more prior convictions, life imprisonment in federal prison without parole
  • Individual fines up to $8,000,000
  • Fines, if not an individual, up to $20,000,000

Defenses to Drug Trafficking

The penalties for drug trafficking are often harsh and have life-long implications. A person facing a drug trafficking charge may feel as if they have no options; however, that is not true. By working with a defense attorney, you can strategize a strong defense for your case. An arrest does not equate to a conviction. The following are possible defenses to use in a drug trafficking case:

Illegal Search and Seizure

Law enforcement typically requests to search a person’s car, house, or body when they have reason to believe there are illegal substances on the person. However, it is unlawful for the police to coerce you into agreeing to a search. If the police have exceeded their authority by getting a person to submit to a search, a defense attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress. If approved, the court will suppress any evidence which has been illegally obtained.

Entrapment

  • If a police officer is undercover and coerces or convinces a person to commit a crime they wouldn’t have normally committed, it is considered entrapment. A skilled defense attorney can try and get your charges dismissed if there is evidence of entrapment.

The best way to determine which defenses apply to your case is by speaking with a skilled defense attorney in your area.


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Finding A Drug Lawyer in Tallahassee

If you have been charged with drug trafficking in Leon County, contact Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your particular case. An experienced drug defense attorney in Tallahassee can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case and avoid severe penalties. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have represented those accused of drug trafficking in Florida and will aggressively fight your criminal charge. Call (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation.


Page last updated March 16th, 2023

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