Trafficking in Controlled Substances


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
helps people defend against Trafficking charges

SLG Law has trafficking defense attorneys with experience in handling these complex and serious cases.  Trafficking charges come with minimum mandatory sentences and other serious consequences. 

What is Trafficking and how is it different than Possession?

Many people think of trafficking as the large scale dealing in drugs, however, in Florida, the difference between trafficking and possession is simply the amount of the controlled substance. 

Trafficking includes sale, purchase, manufacturing, delivering, bringing into the state, or being in actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance. This means that a person that simply possesses 28 grams or more of cocaine will be charged with trafficking in cocaine. 

Therefore, a person who is simply in an area near a relatively large amount of controlled substances could be charged with drug trafficking under the constructive possession theory. 

There are minimum mandatory prison sentences associated with the conviction of trafficking offenses. 

What is Actual Possession, Constructive Possession & Joint Possession?

To "possess" means to have personal charge or or exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the thing possessed. 

Possession may be actual, constructive, and/or joint.


Actual possession means:
The controlled substance is in the hand of or on the person, or

The controlled substance is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or

The controlled substance is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.

Constructive possession means:
the controlled substance is in a place over which you have control, or in which you have concealed it. 

In order to establish constructive possession of a controlled substance if the controlled substance is in a place over which you do not have control, the State must prove you
1)   have control over the controlled substance, and

2)   have knowledge that the controlled substance was within your presence. 


Joint possession means:
two or more person may jointly possess an article, exercising control over it. 

If a person has exclusive possession of a controlled substance, knowledge of its presence may be inferred or assumed. 

Many people mistakenly believe that they have to be caught with the drug on them to be prosecuted for Trafficking. This is incorrect.  Because it is a crime to constructively possess a drug in the State of Florida, you can be convicted of Trafficking even if you never actually possessed the drug, as long as you have control over the controlled substance.  The possession laws in Florida are very broad. 

What are some defenses to Trafficking in Controlled Substances?

Every case is different, but some common defenses arise in Trafficking cases. Many times, there are no controlled substances found on the person.  So, the state may have difficulty in proving possession and knowledge.  There also may be questions about the seizure of controlled substances. Did the officer have a search warrant?  Did they illegally search you or your property?  Did they illegally seize the controlled substances or other evidence?  Can they prove that it is a controlled substance?  If you consented to a search, was that consent valid?  Are their fingerprints or DNA on packages that contained the controlled substances?  There are many possible legal and factual defenses to Trafficking charges.   

What is Trafficking in Marijuana (Cannabis)?

Trafficking in Marijuana (Cannabis) is defined in Florida Statute 893.135(1)(a).
 To prove you are guilty of Trafficking in Marijuana, the State must prove:

1.   You knowingly sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, brought into Florida, or possessed a certain substance,
2. The substance was cannabis (marijuana),

3.   The cannabis (marijuana) weighed more than 25 pounds or constituted 300 or more plants

Potential Consequences of Trafficking in Marijuana
    • More than 25 pounds (or 300 plants) and less than 2000 pounds (or 2,000 plants)
      • 3 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $25,000 fine
    • More than or equal to 2,000 pounds (or 2,000 plants), but less than 10,000 pounds (or 10,000 plants )
      • 7 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $50,000 fine
    • 10,000 pounds or more (10,000 plants or more)
      • 15 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $200,000 fine

What is Trafficking in Cocaine? 

Trafficking in Cocaine is defined in Florida Statute 893.135(1)(b).   Trafficking in Cocaine involves the possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine. 

To prove you are guilty of Trafficking in Cocaine, the State must prove:

1.   You knowingly sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, brought into Florida, or possessed a certain substance,
2.   The substance was cocaine or a mixture containing cocaine,
3.   The cocaine or mixture weighed 28 grams or more.

Potential Consequences of Trafficking in Cocaine
    • 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams
      • 3 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $50,000 fine
    • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams
      • 7 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $100,000 fine
    • 400 grams or more, but less than 150 kilos
      • 15 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $250,000 fine

What is Trafficking in Morphine, Opium, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, or Heroin? 

Trafficking in Morphine, Opium, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, or derivatives, including heroin, is defined in Florida Statute 893.135(1)(c).   

To prove you are guilty of Trafficking in Morphine, Opium, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, or heroin, the State must prove:
1.   You knowingly sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, brought into Florida, or possessed a certain substance,

2.   The substance was morphine, opium, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, or heroin,

3.   The morphine, opium, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, or heroin weighed 4 grams or more.

Potential Consequences of Trafficking in Morphine, Opium, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, or Heroin
    • 4 grams or more but less than 14 grams
      • 3 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $50,000 fine
    • 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams
      • 15 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $100,000 fine
    • 28 grams or more, but less than 30 kilos
      • 25 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $500,000 fine

What is Trafficking in Methamphetamine? 

Trafficking in Methamphetamine is defined in Florida Statute 893.135(1)(f).   Trafficking in Cocaine involves the possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine. 

To prove you are guilty of Trafficking in Methamphetamine, the State must prove:
1.   You knowingly sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, brought into Florida, or possessed a certain substance,

2.   The substance was methamphetamine or amphetamine,

3.   The methamphetamine or amphetamine weighed 14 grams or more.

Potential Consequences of Trafficking in Methamphetamine
    • 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams
      • 3 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $50,000 fine
    • 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams
      • 7 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $100,000 fine
    • 200 grams or more
      • 15 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $250,000 fine

What is Trafficking in MDMA (Ecstasy)? 

Trafficking in MDMA, or Ecstasy, is defined in Florida Statute 893.135(1)(k).   Trafficking in Cocaine involves the possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine. 

To prove you are guilty of Trafficking in MDMA, the State must prove:
1.   You knowingly sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, brought into Florida, or possessed a certain substance,

2.   The substance was MDMA,

3.   The MDMA weighed 10 grams or more.

Potential Consequences of Trafficking in MDMA
    • 10 grams or more, but less than 200 grams
      • 3 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $50,000 fine
    • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams
      • 7 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $100,000 fine
    • 400 grams or more
      • 15 year minimum mandatory prison sentence
      • $250,000 fine

There are also similar minimum mandatory sentences for Trafficking in Phencyclidine (PCP), Methaqualone (Quaaludes), GHB, and LSD and well as others.
If you have been arrested for drug trafficking charge or are under investigation, it is critical that you contact a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

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