Hydrocodone is an opioid or narcotic prescription pain medication. It can slow or stop a patient's breathing, but some people use it recreationally. It can be habit-forming. If you are caught with four grams or more of hydrocodone in Florida, you can be charged with hydrocodone trafficking. Some people associate trafficking with crime syndicates or organized crime, but in fact you can be charged simply for having a threshold amount of the drug. It is crucial to consult an experienced St. Petersburg hydrocodone trafficking lawyer if you are investigated or charged. At Hanlon Law, we strongly believe in protecting the rights of the accused.Offenses Related to Hydrocodone Trafficking
Under Florida Statute 893.135, you can be charged with hydrocodone trafficking for knowingly buying, selling, making, delivering, importing into Florida, or being in actual or constructive possession of a minimum of 14 grams of hydrocodone or a mixture that includes hydrocodone and other drugs, such as morphine. This is a first-degree felony, and the penalties are steeper for greater amounts of hydrocodone or a hydrocodone-containing mixture.
Fourteen grams of hydrocodone may not seem like a lot. It is about the same as 22 pills. In other words, you could be arrested for trafficking even if you had less than 30 pills in Florida. If you are convicted of hydrocodone trafficking, judges are required to impose a mandatory minimum prison sentence and significant fines. With so much at stake, consulting a hydrocodone trafficking attorney in St. Petersburg is a critical step to take.
If the amount of hydrocodone involved is 14-28 grams, the mandatory minimum sentence that the judge will impose is three years plus a $50,000 fine. If the amount of hydrocodone involved is 28-50 grams, the mandatory minimum sentence is seven years plus a fine of $100,000. If the amount of hydrocodone involved is 50-200 grams, the mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years and a $500,000 fine. If the amount of hydrocodone involved is 200 grams-30 kg, the mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years and a $750,000 fine.
Even if the hydrocodone is not found in your pocket or purse, the state is allowed to pursue a constructive possession theory in a drug crime case. This means that it will need to show that the drugs were found somewhere where you knew that the drugs were, you knew that they were illegal, and you had dominion and control over them. Sometimes this must be proven through circumstantial evidence, particularly if you live with other people. It may be possible for a St. Petersburg hydrocodone trafficking attorney to attack this evidence and raise a reasonable doubt with the jury on this score to defend the charge.
In other cases, it may be possible to defend against charges by raising constitutional or procedural violations. For example, under the Fourth Amendment, police can conduct reasonable searches and seizures, but not unreasonable ones. This is a very nuanced area of case law. A search is considered reasonable if the police show probable cause, which means that it is more likely than not that a crime has happened and that the search will yield either evidence of the crime or stolen goods. Often, the police need to make this showing to a judge so that the judge can issue a search warrant, but in many cases, the police are allowed to engage in a search without a warrant, such as when there is no legitimate expectation of privacy.
The police can use reliable first-hand information or tips to justify their request for a warrant, and they can search beyond the area specified in a warrant if it is needed to ensure their safety or others' safety, to stop evidence from being destroyed, or to learn more about possible evidence that is in plain view. Furthermore, police are allowed to search without a warrant if you give them free and voluntary consent. However, they cannot coerce or trick you into providing this consent.
If the police conduct an unreasonable or illegal search and seizure and find hydrocodone in amounts that permit a trafficking charge, it may be possible to get that evidence suppressed through a motion. Without that evidence, the prosecution may not be able to pursue the same charges.Consult an Experienced Hydrocodone Trafficking Lawyer in the St. Petersburg Area
You should hire a St. Petersburg criminal lawyer if you are being investigated for hydrocodone trafficking. Since the judge does not have the discretion to sentence you to less than the mandatory minimum, except in some situations involving underage offenders, you will want to get an attorney who will mount an aggressive defense at the earliest possible stage. Will Hanlon has been providing knowledgeable criminal defense representation since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or use our online form.