Drug charge penalties are mostly based on drug type, amount, and past convictions
Drug trafficking and drug possession are two serious crimes in Florida. Both offenses can result in fines, incarceration, and a criminal record that limits your future job, education, and housing opportunities. However, there are important differences between these drug charges.
In broad terms, drug possession and drug trafficking are distinguished by the type and amount of drugs involved. Illegal substances frequently involved in Florida drug charges include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, crack, LSD, and heroin.
If you're facing drug-related charges in Florida, it's important to understand the differences between drug trafficking and drug possession charges. Florida has some of the strictest drug laws in the country, and the consequences of a drug conviction can be severe.
Drug possession charges
Drug possession charges are harsh but typically less severe than drug trafficking charges. Possession of drugs can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the type of drug and the amount of the drug involved. Possession of marijuana, for example, can be charged as a misdemeanor for small amounts or as a felony for larger quantities, or if the defendant has a prior criminal history. Penalties are even more devastating if you were arrested in a school, park, or college.
Typically, first-time offenders may face fines, driver's license suspension, probation, and drug treatment programs, but incarceration is also possible. Repeat offenders or those found in possession of large amounts of drugs could face up to 5 years in prison and substantial fines.
Drug trafficking charges
Drug trafficking charges, on the other hand, are much more severe than drug possession charges. Drug trafficking is defined as the illegal sale, transportation, or distribution of controlled substances. Florida takes drug trafficking very seriously. Depending on the situation, mandatory minimum sentences on a drug trafficking charge range from 3 years to life in prison.
Drug trafficking charges are determined based on the type and quantity of the drug in question. For example, trafficking in cannabis can result in a 3-year mandatory minimum prison sentence of over 25 pounds. In contrast, trafficking in cocaine can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years for quantities over 28 grams.
The fines for drug trafficking charges in Florida are large, typically anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000, depending on the type and quantity of the drug involved.
The most serious drug trafficking charge is "capital drug trafficking" of cocaine or opiates. If convicted, a separate sentencing proceeding is held to determine whether capital punishment (death sentence) should be applied.
Defending against Florida drug charges
If you are facing drug charges in Florida, it's important to remember that you have legal rights. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime in question, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you defend against these charges.
At Aguilar & Sieron, P.A., our drug charge defense attorneys aggressively fight for the rights of our clients. We can investigate the facts of your case and work to achieve the best possible outcome of your case. With our knowledge and experience, our law firm can provide a strong defense against drug possession or trafficking charges and help protect your freedom.
If you are facing drug charges in Florida, it's essential to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the nuances of the state's drug laws. Aguilar & Sieron, P.A., has years of experience in criminal defense and a track record of success in Clay County and Northeast Florida. If you've been charged, contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.