Cocaine Trafficking - Mandatory Minimums
Trafficking in drugs is not restricted to people who are considered drug kingpins. If you are caught with a certain minimum amount of cocaine, you may be vigorously prosecuted for cocaine trafficking. Sometimes these charges are coupled with other charges, such as for violent crimes or sex crimes. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg cocaine trafficking lawyer Will Hanlon understands that it can be overwhelming to face charges for cocaine trafficking, which come with mandatory minimum sentences and fines. He strongly believes in providing a comprehensive defense to the accused.Cocaine Trafficking Charges
Drug trafficking charges in Florida are serious because they come with mandatory minimum penalties. These are penalties that the judge is required to impose. Ordinarily, judges do have some discretion over sentencing, and they can be influenced to issue lighter sentences in some situations, such as when it is a first offense or there were certain types of circumstances surrounding the crime. When mandatory minimum sentences are required, however, a judge does not have the same degree of discretion and must impose at least a certain sentence, except in rare cases.
You can be charged with cocaine trafficking just for possessing 28 grams. You will also be charged with trafficking if you sell, buy, deliver, or bring this amount into Florida. Florida Statute section 893.135 sets forth the mandatory minimum penalties that a judge must impose if you are caught trafficking cocaine within certain ranges. The structure is similar to trafficking penalties for crimes involving substances like cannabis or 1,4 butanediol, although the amounts are different.
If you are convicted of trafficking in 28-200 grams of cocaine, the judge is required to sentence you to a mandatory minimum of three years in prison and a $50,000 fine. If you are convicted of trafficking in 200-400 grams of cocaine, the judge is required to sentence you to a mandatory minimum of seven years’ imprisonment and a $100,000 fine. If you are convicted of trafficking in 400 grams-150 kg., the judge is supposed to impose a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. These penalties are quite harsh, so consulting a cocaine trafficking attorney in St. Petersburg is an important step to take.
People charged with trafficking cocaine in amounts greater than 150 kg. may be charged with a first-degree felony. This means that the judge may sentence you to life imprisonment, and you will not be eligible for parole or any other form of discretionary early release, except in certain limited circumstances.
Although the future may look bleak, there are procedural and substantive defenses that a St. Petersburg criminal lawyer can raise. We may be able to raise entrapment in situations in which you would not have perpetrated cocaine trafficking but for police coercion. Sometimes it is possible to defend against trafficking charges by providing substantial assistance to law enforcement. If you provide substantial assistance, however, you will be a confidential informant or snitch, and for many people this is not the best option because of the potential impact on their lives once they are released from police custody.
Often, procedural defenses are available. For example, a St. Petersburg cocaine trafficking attorney may raise a defense based on a violation of your Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights. When police officers get evidence of cocaine trafficking in an illegal way, such as by searching without a warrant when a warrant was necessary or searching without probable cause, we can move to suppress the evidence. If the motion is granted, there may not be admissible evidence of the amount of cocaine necessary to support a cocaine trafficking charge. If there is no admissible evidence of the requisite amount of cocaine, the prosecutor will likely drop the charges. In some cases, the amount of cocaine that is admissible may be reduced, which can result in a plea deal or reduced sentence.Contact a Cocaine Trafficking Lawyer in St. Petersburg
Drug trafficking charges are very serious, and it is important to bring in a lawyer as soon as you realize that you are being investigated or accused of trafficking in cocaine. There may be strong defenses, or there may be favorable plea deals that we can negotiate, but the earlier that we get involved, the better. If you are seeking a tough and skillful lawyer to fight charges of cocaine trafficking or other drug crimes, such as those involving meth or marijuana, Hanlon Law may be able to represent you. Will Hanlon has offered aggressive, knowledgeable criminal defense representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.