One of the most serious criminal offenses is something called drug trafficking, a charge that can stem from the intentional sale, manufacturing, delivery, possession, transport, or purchase of any illegal drugs prohibited by the government. The laws used to prosecute drugs crimes are broken down by the class of drug and the amount of drugs involved. Florida has some of the toughest drug laws in the nation due to the history of drug smuggling dating back to the 1960s.
If you are charged with drug trafficking, one of the first things a Miami criminal defense attorney will tell you is that a conviction could mean a long time in jail. On top of that, you are going to be regarded differently by employers, landlords, and law enforcement agencies even after you get out of jail; plus, you may be required to pay significant fines. After your arrest, you may be held with no bond. If you are being held without a bond, contact our office immediately regarding an Arthur Hearing. This is why it is so important that you contact a drug trafficking lawyer in Miami as soon as possible after you have been charged with this offense. You want someone who will work hard to beat the charges because the consequences of such a conviction can be quite severe.
What You Need to Know about Drug Trafficking
Besides contacting a Miami drug trafficking attorney, you want to find out as much as you can about the drug trafficking charge. For example, understanding the difference between being charged with the sale of drugs and being charged with actual drug trafficking is vital. Drug sale charges are generally brought against someone who is involved in the small sale of illicit substances. Unless the government suspects you are moving drugs on a large scale, you probably will not get charged with trafficking. There are some standards when it comes to the quantity of drugs that permit or forbid authorities from charging someone with drug trafficking, but there are some gray areas, meaning it is sometimes up to the prosecutor bringing the charges.
Drug trafficking usually involves some sort of large-scale distribution that involves the import of drugs into the country or into a specific geographic area through various means or the transport of those drugs in large quantities. However, if you are simply in possession of the amount of drugs required for a drug trafficking charge, then you can still be charged with trafficking, even if you didn’t transport them or attempt to sell them. For smaller-scale operations, authorities usually charge defendants with something like possession with intent to sell. In some trafficking cases, the federal government steps in because they have the authority to act in response to a violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
Drug Trafficking Amounts
One of the things you are going to need to discuss with our criminal defense lawyer in Miami is the specifics of the charges against you, because the trafficking threshold in Florida varies from one drug to another. For you to be charged with drug trafficking, the case usually has to meet or exceed the threshold to be charged as such. Here are some of those minimum thresholds that you should know about.
- Marijuana: 25 pounds or 300 plants
- Cocaine: 28 grams
- Morphine, opium, hydromorphone: 4 grams
- Hydrocodone: 14 grams
- Oxycodone: 7 grams
- Methaqualone: 200 grams
- Phencyclidine: 200 grams
- Amphetamine or methamphetamine: 14 grams
- Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB): 1 kilogram
- Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD): 7 grams
One of the things people call a criminal law office in Miami about is a drug trafficking charge where the person being charged had a large number of prescription painkillers that were legitimately prescribed by a physician and intended for personal use. Because seven grams is quite a small amount, you would only need a small number of pills to meet the seven-gram threshold, allowing the government to charge you with drug trafficking. However, if someone has a legitimate prescription for the painkiller, they should not be charged with the crime at all. Our attorney can help with this. It is rare that a government would choose to do this, but it does happen, and if it happens to you, simply contact our office right away.
What Happens If You Are Convicted?
If you are convicted of a drug trafficking offense, the penalties are quite severe. Drug trafficking charges all have minimum sentences that are required to be imposed by the judge, but the maximum sentences can run for decades. Some trafficking charges can even carry life sentences. It depends on the substance and the amount of drugs named in your accusation. You also have to consider that there may be multiple counts and charges, because Florida takes drug trafficking very seriously and prosecutes these offenses as first-degree felonies. You definitely want as much help as you can when it comes to drug trafficking offenses, the penalties are so harsh that a conviction could severely impact your life.
So, how do you know what the penalty could be for what you have been charged with? You should talk to your attorney to clarify the specifics of your case, but the quantity and type of drug that was involved in the alleged trafficking charge is the primary thing prosecutors look at when determining what charges to bring and what judges look at when it comes to sentencing. Obviously, a great deal will come down to the evidence being presented, the mood of the sentencing judge, how well you are represented and how you present yourself in court, the circumstances surrounding the charges, and many other factors. The best solution is to be acquitted of charges in the first place, but if you are unable to do so, then you must work diligently to minimize the sentencing, because drug trafficking charges can be serious.
Drug Trafficking Sentencing
For example, in Florida, if you are caught with as little as 25 pounds of marijuana, and convicted, then the minimum mandatory jail sentence is three years, and that is possibly three years for each count, as well as facing a fine of up to $25,000. The maximum sentence is obviously much higher. For higher quantities of marijuana, such as between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds, the minimum prison term for each count is seven years and the fine doubles to $50,000.
Marijuana is one of the most common types of drugs that criminal defense attorneys in Miami see when it comes to trafficking, but the penalties for other types of drugs are much more severe. If you have trafficking charges against you for another type of drug, you could be looking at sentencing minimums of decades in prison for each count.
Something else you should keep in mind is that Florida has various enhancements that can be added to drug charges to ensure the prison sentence is as long as possible. Not only are judges looking to make examples out of high-level drug traffickers, prosecutors also want to add on charges like habitual offender charges, which can apply if you have a record of drug crimes in the past. These enhancements could turn a short sentence into one that is three times, four times, or many more times longer, including life imprisonment.
The severity of drug trafficking charges is exactly why you should contact a Miami criminal attorney as soon as possible after being arrested. Thousands of small details come with presenting a criminal defense in response to a drug trafficking or other charge, and your attorney needs as much notice as possible to begin preparing. Drug trafficking charges are not something you want to fight yourself. You also do not want to leave your future in the hands of someone unfamiliar with the nuances of drug trafficking charges.
Contacting an attorney in Miami that knows about drug trafficking charges and how to best represent you and defend against the prosecution is going to be the number one step that could keep you out of prison or ensure you receive the smallest prison sentence possible. A good Miami drug crime attorney may be able to present legal defenses that will lead to your drug trafficking charges being completely dismissed, or a jury trial exonerating you. But for that to happen, you have to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest and tell them about the details of your case. If you do so, your chances of staying out of prison are much better.