Narco-traffic, Possesions and Sale of
In Florida, there is a wide range of drug crimes - from the simple possession of, for example, marijuana (less than 20 grams) - to the trafficking of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.
Almost always, the charge and the formal accusation that follows will depend on the amount of drugs and the type of drugs. In other words, more drugs result in more time in jail; while fewer drugs almost always result in participation in "a program," or in worse cases, probation.
At the same time, they have to take into account that, at the Federal level, the DEA classifies some drugs as more prone to abuse and addiction than others. For example, small amounts of heroin can result in extensive convictions, because heroin is highly addictive. Again, the severity of a drug case will almost always depend on the type of drug and the amount. Since the 1980s, state and federal governments have "over-criminalized" the possession, sale and distribution of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and soothing pills such as Percocet and Dilaudid.
This "war on drugs" has resulted in severe penalties and minimum mandatory penalties. The United States has 5% of the world's population, but has about 25% of all prisoners in the world. There are no statistics that better represent the rigor of the US criminal system. However, even with almost one in 100 American adults imprisoned, the United States is no safer than it was in 1973, when the prison population was only 200,000 people.
A significant portion of the increase is due to the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences. The mandatory minimums do not leave room for the discretion of the judges and adopt a “hard” position that is ineffective, expensive and unfair. In Florida, for example, a defendant - without prior criminal record - who was arrested for cocaine trafficking, which is defined as possession of cocaine in excess of 28 grams, has a mandatory minimum penalty of 36 months in prison. Consider the following narco-trafficking offenses and their “mandatory minimum” penalties:
Marijuana § 893.135(1)(a)
3 years of “minimum mandatory” prison if there are 25 pounds of Marijuana or more.
7 years of “minimum mandatory” prison if there are 2,000 pounds of Marijuana or more.
15 years of “minimum mandatory” prison if there are 10,000 pounds of Marijuana or more.
Cocaine § 893.135 (1) (b)
3 years of “minimum mandatory” prison for 28 grams or more of cocaine, but less than 200 grams.
7 years of “minimum mandatory” prison for 200 grams or more of cocaine, but less than 400 grams.
15 years of “minimum mandatory” prison for 400 grams or more of cocaine, but less than 150 kilograms.
“Minimum mandatory” life sentence for an excess of 150 kilograms of cocaine.
Heroin, Morphine, Oxycodone and its Derivatives § 893.135 (1) (c)
3 years of “minimum mandatory” prison for 4 grams or more of heroin, but less than 14 grams.
15 years of “minimum mandatory” prison for 14 grams or more of heroin, but less than 28 grams.
25 years of “minimum mandatory” prison for 28 grams or more of heroin, but less than 30 kilograms
Life imprisonment “mandatory minimum” for an excess of 30 kilograms of heroin.
Despite the draconian effect of these laws, Florida courts have consistently affirmed their application. For this reason, it is important to hire a capable criminal lawyer. Remember: Our specialty is in cases where our clients have had a lot to lose and where a successful defense involves hours of preparation, thorough investigation, and years of experience.
Consider the following defenses:
Petition to Exclude Evidence
Perhaps the most effective tool in narco-traffic cases is the request to exclude evidence, or the famous “motion to suppress.” In cases of marijuana planting, the police usually require the consent of the homeowner to enter. Sometimes they threaten the homeowner and his family with deportation or investigation of the Department of Children and Families (if there are children) to get into the house - which is completely illegal. The law requires that consent be given freely and without coercion. If the court determines that the police entered your home illegally, everything you got as a result of that illegal entry would be excluded and the case sometimes dismissed.
Independent Opinion of Drug Weight / Amount
The absurdity of these laws is that the weight or amount of drug is what determines your sentence. Many times, it is worthwhile to hire an expert and ask for judicial permission to evaluate and reweigh the drugs. We have been able to reduce charges in cases where the weight of marijuana is less than what is required for the mandatory minimum to apply.
Petition to Disseminate the Identity of the Confidential Informant
In the vast majority of these cases, there is a confidential informant or a cooperator with the police. The police tend to want to hide the identity of their informant, either because that informant is paid or because the informant acted illegally. Many times we have achieved a reduction in charges as a result of inappropriate actions of the sneak, toad, or finger strip.