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Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking, drug dealing or illegal drug trade refers to the black market throughout the world which produces and distributes controlled substances in violation of local laws. Drug trafficking worldwide is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year. The illegal drug trade is thought to have started in China in the 1700s to stop opium addiction. Drug trafficking continues to be a serious offense throughout the world today. The penalties depend on the type of controlled substance and the amount or weight which is trafficked. Penalties in the United States include prison time, incarceration, and fines but in some countries includes the death penalty. Developing countries are directly impacted by the drug trade. Drug trafficking is thought to increase violence in countries known for the drug trade.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drug trafficking please contact Arnold Law for a free consultation today. Drug trafficking generally deals with the amount or weight of the drugs or controlled substances as opposed to the sale of drugs or controlled substances which is a common misconception. The trafficking amounts vary by substance and type which is quantified in the weight or number of pills.  Drug trafficking crimes have very high penalties and can result in lengthy prison sentences with mandatory minimums. If you believe you are under investigation for drug trafficking you should contact an attorney prior to speaking with the authorities.

Florida Statute 893.135

Drug trafficking in Florida falls under Florida Statute 893.135. The Florida statute defines the penalties and amounts of the controlled substances which result in prison sentences and fines. The larger the amount of controlled substances in weight in grams or number of pills,the larger the fine and the longer prison sentence with the potential for mandatory minimum prison sentences.

Trafficking in Cannabis

Trafficking in cannabis is considered a first-degree felony in Florida. There are mandatory minimums associated with the crime. The mandatory minimums get more severe as the weight of marijuana or number of plants increases. The penalties for trafficking in marijuana can be very severe resulting in very expensive fines, lengthy prison sentences and driver's license suspensions. There can also be collateral consequences which are important to consider and discuss with your attorney such as, but not limited to, the loss of your professional license.

Marijuana continues to be decriminalized throughout the country but trafficking in cannabis remains illegal in Florida. Possession of over 25 pounds or 300 plants is a felony of the 1st degree with a mandatory minimum of 3 years and a $25,000 fine.  Less than 300 pounds or less than 2000 plants, more than 2000 pounds but less than 10,000 pounds or 2000 or more plants but less than 10,000 plants is mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years and a $50,000 fine. For 10,000 pounds or more or 10,000 or more plants have a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and a $200,000 fine. Trafficking in marijuana includes delivery, sale, purchase, manufacture, possession or bringing into the state. Possession may be either actual or constructive for purposes of trafficking in marijuana.

Trafficking in Cocaine

Florida statute 893.135 (1)(B) coverage trafficking in cocaine. Trafficking of cocaine occurs when over 28 g of cocaine is possessed, sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered or transported. The mandatory minimums for trafficking in cocaine over 28 g but less than 199 grams are 3 years of incarceration and a $50,000 fine with a maximum of 30 years in prison, 200 g to 399 g are 7 years in prison and a $100,000 fine with a maximum of 30 years in prison, 400 g to 149 kg is 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine with a maximum of 30 years in prison. There are also collateral consequences to consider in any trafficking cocaine case. If you are convicted of trafficking in cocaine your driver's license will be suspended by the Florida DMV. There may be other collateral consequences such as a professional license suspension or revocation. In fact any professional license issued by the State of Florida will be suspended if you are convicted of trafficking in cocaine.

There are defenses to trafficking in cocaine. If a government agent induces you to commit the crime of trafficking in cocaine and you're not predisposed to commit the crime you may have an entrapment defense. If there is no probable cause for the search for cocaine or seizure of cocaine there may have been an illegal search and seizure. To search your vehicle or house the arresting officer must have probable cause or a warrant. Absent one of the other there may have been an illegal search and seizure. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress which will result in a suppression of all fruit of the poisonous tree pursuant to the 4th amendment. All the evidence obtained without a valid warrant or probable cause will be suppressed and if the state cannot otherwise prove the case the charges would normally be dropped. There are some defenses related to possession. Generally, possession defenses are related to constructive possession where the cocaine may be found in the trunk of a vehicle which the driver does not own. The state must prove the knowledge and dominion/control over the cocaine. Basically, if you did not know the cocaine was in your constructive possession or you did not know the substance was cocaine then you will have a defense to trafficking in cocaine.

The drug war has resulted in very stiff penalties for trafficking in cocaine. North America accounts for over 40% of the global cocaine consumption according to the United Nations. Global cocaine seizures are over 700 tons according to the United Nations office on drugs and crime.

If you have been charged with trafficking in cocaine, is very important that you meet with a criminal defense lawyer so you can fight these very serious charges. If you are under investigation for trafficking in cocaine the government may charge you at the state and/or federal level. The penalties can be very serious. You should meet with an attorney who has experience in handling drug trafficking cases in the past.

Trafficking in GHB

Facing trafficking in GHB charges? Arnold Law provides defense of trafficking in GHB. If you are arrested or under suspicion for trafficking in GHB contact Arnold Law for a free consultation. Do not speak to the authorities until you meet with an attorney. Trafficking in GHB carries very harsh penalties including mandatory prison sentences, fines and other penalties. GHB is a gamma hydroxybutyric acid. GHB it is also known as ecstasy. The drug was originally used by the FDA for sleep disorders. GHB is considered a controlled substance in Florida. Possession of a small amount of GHB is generally considered possession of GHB. If GHB is sold, you may be charged with sale of a controlled substance. If you are found to be in possession of a large amount of GHB you could be charged with trafficking GHB. It is not necessary that the GHB be sold but merely that you are in possession of the GHB for trafficking to apply.

Trafficking in Heroin

There is currently an epidemic of heroin use in the United States. Heroin consumption throughout the world is estimated at 340 tons and seizures annually or about 450 tons of heroin in the global market according to the United Nations office on drugs and crime. Authorities are cracking down on trafficking in heroin in an attempt to stop or slow the use of heroin by addicts. If you are in possession of heroin above a certain amount you could be arrested for trafficking in heroin. The penalties for trafficking in heroin can be very harsh. Generally, the more heroin you have in your possession the higher the penalties for your case. There may be defenses or technicalities in your case. Trafficking in heroin is a serious offense.Any time a defendant is charged with trafficking in heroin it may be possible to convince the state attorney to reduce the charge they file. Trafficking in heroin could be reduced to a possession of heroin. The penalties for trafficking are much more severe than the penalties for possession. Where drugs are seized in a trafficking in heroin case the drugs are sent out to the FDLE or another drug testing lab. The drugs are tested to confirm which controlled substance has been confiscated. If the drug test comes back negative charges could be dropped. If there is some sort of mistake with the testing, there may be a technicality or an opportunity to file a motion to suppress.

There are some states which choose not to prosecute small amounts of heroin possession. There are also many counties and cities that have decriminalized possession of controlled substances. Trafficking in controlled substances remains illegal at the state and federal level. If you or a loved one is arrested for trafficking in heroin contact our office for a free consultation. Every case is different and an attorney should review your case to look for legal issues. Trafficking in heroin often results in a Nebbia hold. A Nebbia hold on your bond will force you to account for all the money you are using for bond. This type of hold makes sure drug money is not used for bond money. Trafficking in heroin already results in a high bond so the Nebbia hold makes it even harder to make bail.

Trafficking in Hydrocodone

There are mandatory minimum sentences associated with trafficking in hydrocodone. The mandatory minimum sentences increase as the amount of hydrocodone allegedly in your possession increases. The more pills you allegedly possessed mean more mandatory years spent in prison you may face. The same is true for fines. The larger the amount of hydrocodone in the defendant’s possession the more expensive the minimum fines. Mandatory minimums are often harsh under the facts of the case but an experienced attorney can negotiate a better disposition or a judge may be able to provide a lower sentence. In Florida trafficking in hydrocodone is taken extremely seriously. There is an epidemic of drug use in Florida and law enforcement is pushing very hard to slow the drug use and crimes associated with drug use. It is extremely important to hire a highly skilled attorney with experience in trafficking in controlled substances cases. To commit the crime of trafficking hydrocodone is not necessary that you actually sell the hydrocodone but merely possess over a certain amount of the controlled substance. If you are charged with trafficking hydrocodone while driving a friend's vehicle and the hydrocodone is not found on your person it may be necessary for the State to prove that you knew the hydrocodone was in the vehicle.

Trafficking in MDMA

Trafficking in MDMA carries very stiff penalties including but not limited to mandatory minimum prison sentences and expensive fines. Trafficking in MDMA also known as trafficking in ecstasy is a very serious crime. The arresting officers generally cannot test for MDMA on-site so the alleged controlled substance will need to be tested at FDLE or another lab. Testing controlled substances including MDMA may take a long time. If you or a loved one is being investigated for trafficking in MDMA please contact an attorney as soon as possible.

Trafficking in Methamphetamine

Trafficking in methamphetamine also known as meth and crystal meth is becoming more and more common. As the popularity of methamphetamine rises so does the amount of people accused of trafficking in methamphetamine. The penalties for trafficking methamphetamine are very strict. The penalties include but are not limited to mandatory minimum prison sentences, expensive fines and collateral consequences. Trafficking in methamphetamine is considered drug trafficking. It is not necessary for the defendant to sell drugs to be charged with trafficking. The same is true with trafficking in methamphetamine. Trafficking in methamphetamine is triggered when the defendant is in possession of or above a certain amount of meth. The more methamphetamine the higher the mandatory prison sentences and the higher the mandatory minimum fines.

Trafficking in OxyContin

Trafficking in oxycodone/OxyContin is a very serious offense. Trafficking in any controlled substance triggers mandatory minimum prison sentences. These sentences increase as the amount of OxyContin or oxycodone increases. Therefore, the more OxyContin or oxycodone in the defendant's possession the higher the prison sentence the defendant is exposed to. If you are even accused of trafficking in OxyContinor oxycodoneyou should contact a local criminal defense attorney who is experienced in trafficking cases.

Defenses and Mitigation:

  • Entrapment

    Entrapment is a defense to trafficking controlled substances. If a government actor entices you to commit the offense of trafficking under duress or you would not normally commit the offense of trafficking you may have a defense of entrapment. Entrapment generally pops up where a undercover agent or confidential informant is used. It should be unlikely that you would commit the crime absent the government intervention for entrapment defense.

  • Illegal Search and Seizure

    Illegal search and seizure is a defense to trafficking in controlled substances where probable cause or a warrant is not obtained prior to search of the vehicle, home or person and illegal drugs or controlled substances or found. If the search and seizure are found to have been illegal then the evidence seized should be suppressed.

  • Insufficient Evidence

    The state must prove the defendant had in his actual or constructive possession the drugs or controlled substances that are alleged to have been trafficked. If the defendant did not know the drugs were in his constructive possession there is insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict. If the defendant did not know what the drugs were in his possession there may be insufficient evidence. Insufficient evidence essentially comes down to the state proving all the elements of the crime. If any elements of the crime are missing there would be insufficient evidence for the state to proceed.

  • Valid Prescription

    Medication must be kept in a valid prescription bottle. People are arrested for trafficking when they may have a valid prescription for the controlled substance. If drugs are not kept in a pill bottle with a valid prescription,an arrest for trafficking could take place. While being arrested for trafficking in the controlled substance can be irritating and inconvenient if the defendant has a valid prescription, the charges will generally be dismissed. The valid prescription must cover the controlled substance the defendant possesses and must be valid for the dates the defendant possessed the controlled substance.

Substantial Assistance in Trafficking Cases

Drug trafficking cases often trigger mandatory minimum sentencing. When drug traffickers are arrested law enforcement may ask the defendants to provide assistance. When substantial assistance is provided the State may ask the court to sentence the defendant to a lesser period of incarceration than the mandatory minimum. Substantial assistance is often achieved by flipping on the bigger fish. The State may require the defendant to provide evidence on other criminals involved in the drug trade. The substantial assistance is used as mitigation. The state may offer a substantial assistance contract allowing the defendant to assist law enforcement. Law enforcement often has individuals they are looking at for criminal activity. If the defendant is unable to provide substantial assistance the state attorney can always file charges within so many years.

Bond in Drug Trafficking Cases

If you arrested for trafficking in drugs the judge may issue a bond at first appearance. A Nebbia hold is often placed on bonds where defendants are arrested for drug trafficking. A Nebbia hold is a requirement for the defendant to show the source of the funds used to secure the bond. The Nebbia hold can often delay the defendant bonding out or make it impossible altogether. The purpose of a Nebbia bond is to ensure that drug proceeds are not used to bail defendants out of jail. The source of the funds for the bond must be from legal proceeds. It is important to contact a bail bondsman with regard to bond and bail issues. An attorney may be able to help with motions related to your bail bond and other collateral issues. The state attorney can stipulate to a bond amount with your attorney. If a Nebbia hold is placed on your bond your attorney can require a hearing to show the legitimate source of the funds used. There are other factors that are taken into account as well for your bond such as whether or not you have a passport, your ties to the community, the threat to the community, your employment and other relevant facts. An experienced criminal defense attorney can file a motion to reduce your bond. If the motion to reduce a bond is granted the defendant can save a substantial amount of money in drug trafficking cases where bonds can be very high. It is important to have an attorney at first appearance to raise any objections that may be appropriate. More information can be found in United States v. Nebbia, 357 F.2d 303 (2d Cir. 1966).

Federal Drug Charges

The federal drug charges the penalties may be more serious than state charges. If you are arrested for federal drug charges you need to have an attorney that can practice in federal court. Duval County is considered a high intensity area for drug trafficking due to the location, the ports, the railway and the trucking industry.

Changes in Drug Trafficking Laws

The harsh drug trafficking laws in Florida may be revised over time. The epidemic of drug use in Florida has created some of the toughest laws in the country and the legislature may overhaul the drug trafficking laws. This is one reason why it is so important to speak with an attorney if you are under suspicion for drug trafficking or have been arrested for trafficking in a controlled substance. Nonviolent drug offenders can spend many years in prison due to strict drug trafficking laws in Florida. The Governor can pardon nonviolent drug traffickers but this is seen as a last resort.

Disclosure: Fla. Stat. and Florida case law is constantly changing and evolving so the information provided above should not be relied on for legal advice. Legal advice will only be given in person or over the phone by speaking directly to an attorney at Arnold Law in our office in Clay, Duval or St. John's County. All criminal cases are different. This includes trafficking in controlled substance or drug cases. It is necessary for an attorney to review the facts and legal issues of each case. I would strongly advise you to contact an attorney if you have been arrested or accused, or are under suspicion for trafficking in drugs even if you are unable to contact our office contact a criminal defense attorney which is local to you to discuss your case.

Contacting the Best Drug Trafficking Attorney Near Me

In conclusion, if you or a loved one is accused, arrested, under suspicion or has committed trafficking in cannabis, trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in GHB, trafficking in heroin, trafficking in hydrocodone, trafficking in MDMA/ecstasy, trafficking in methamphetamine/meth, trafficking in oxycodone/OxyContin or any other drug trafficking crime it is so important to contact a criminal defense attorney in your County for a consultation. Due to the strict nature of the penalties for trafficking in drug cases the stakes are very high. Every possible precaution must be taken in your legal representation for drug trafficking. There are many defenses to drug trafficking which we can discuss in our consultation. Trafficking in cannabis may not seem as severe as trafficking in other controlled substances however trafficking in cannabis still carries very tough penalties including the possibility of prison time and fines.

Please look through our Arnold Law website for more information that may be pertinent to your case. We also encourage you to pick up the phone to call our criminal defense attorney at 904-264-3627 to speak directly with someone on our legal team or you may click on the contact us tab to make an appointment.

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We represent Clay, St. Johns, Duval and Putnam County residents

Our office is located across the street from the Clay County Courthouse in Green Cove Springs at the same intersection as the CVS Pharmacy. Although we are located in Clay County, we assist all Florida residents and counsel anyone who needs help with issues related to Florida law. To schedule an office or phone consultation please call or stop by our office location. We look forward to your call: 904-264-3627 or 904-284-5618.