Florida courts treat drug crimes harshly. Prosecutors often seek the maximum charge possible and demand tough sentences. Many judges will impose these tough sentences, especially when the charges involve possession of high quantities or trafficking. In Florida, the public perceives drugs as the root of most crime. As a result, lawmakers have passed get-tough laws meant to deter drug possession and trafficking and reduce overall crime.
If you are facing drug charges in Florida, this means you could face felony charges and jail or prison time. For possession cases, misdemeanor charges may be brought for small amounts. Trafficking usually results in felony charges.
Having strong legal representation is essential. A criminal defense attorney will evaluate the strength and weakness of the state’s case. Often, proof is weaker than the prosecution lets on. Many cases are dismissed after a defense attorney disputes the evidence. In stronger cases, a lawyer can negotiate a plea bargain that reduces the charges and avoids prison time in many cases. Effective representation can save years of prison time. William Hanlon, Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa represents defendants facing drug charges. His practice works to exonerate innocent defendants and prevent good people from being thrown into the prison system because of drug charges.
Types of Florida drug charges
Florida law prohibits the sale, manufacture, or delivery of a controlled substance. It also prohibits possession of illegal narcotics, drug trafficking conspiracy, narcotic-involved DUI. These laws apply to both illegal narcotics and prescription drugs used illegally.
Simple possession charges generally apply to people caught with small quantities of drugs that were intended for personal use. Higher quantities lead to the more severe charge of possession with the intent to deliver. In these cases, the higher quantity allows the court to presume that the drugs were not just for personal use. Penalties depend on the quantity, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether other criminal complaints accompany the possession charge.
The severity of the possession charge also depends on the type of drug. Drugs are categorized according to a schedule of four classifications. Schedule I drugs have no medical use in addition to highly addictive properties. These include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, peyote, and marijuana. Schedule II drugs have less potential for abuse. They include Cocaine, the prescription painkiller Vicodin, Demerol, and unauthorized fentanyl use and distribution, as well as methamphetamine. Schedule III are medical products with aa moderate potential for addiction when misused. They include the tranquilizer ketamine, nonmedical testosterone, and illegally used anabolic steroids. Schedule IV drugs have low abuse potential and include Xanax, Valium, and Ambien.
Selling, distributing, and manufacturing illegal narcotics carries sentences ranging from several years to life in prison. Florida’s drug laws set sentencing guidelines based on the type of drug and quantity being trafficked.
Trafficking over 28 grams of cocaine carries a minimum of three years in prison. Sentences grow progressively stiffer at higher quantities. Over 150 kilograms carries life in prison.
Heroin trafficking over 4 grams but less than 14 grams carries a minimum of three years. Trafficking between 14 and 28 grams requires a mandatory 15-year sentence. 28 grams and over requires a minimum of 25 years.
Hydrocodone and Oxycodone trafficking also carry minimum sentences of between 3 and 25 years, depending on the quantity.
Federal Drug Charges
Whereas many state drug charges involve possession, most federal drug charges involve trafficking. Federal charges carry much stiffer penalties. The federal prison system also has no parole, though inmates can receive up to 54 days per year off their sentences for exemplary conduct.
Florida has many tough drug laws. Though law enforcement arrests dangerous people every day, many good people also get caught up in the dragnet of drug enforcement. Because the sentences for many drug charges are so high, it’s important to involve a criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible time. Representation can result in case dismissal or a plea bargain that shaves years off a sentence or keeps the defendant out of jail. If you or a loved one are facing Florida drug charges, contact a criminal defense lawyer now.