What’s the difference between possession of a drug like marijuana or cocaine and trafficking it? To begin with, the amount is important. Also, the intent, i.e. what you were intending to do with the drug. The third main difference is the penalties if you are convicted. The penalties, including minimum prison sentences, are much more severe for trafficking than for possession.
The distinctions are important as it is easy to be arrested for possession and even trafficking even if you had no knowledge that drugs were present or being handled. For example, imagine you are sharing an apartment with someone and this roommate has stashed a heap of marijuana in a tin in the pantry. The apartment gets raided and you end up being arrested for trafficking because of the amount of marijuana involved, even if you had never looked inside the tin or realized that your roommate could have stashed that amount of marijuana there
Amounts that change possession to trafficking (Fla. Stat. § 893.135)
You have to have substantial amounts of marijuana to make it more serious than just possession. If you are caught with more than 20 pounds of the drug, you could be arrested for ‘sale of possession of marijuana.’ The crime is a first degree felony, but there are different minimum periods in prison depending on the amount involved, varying from 3 years minimum with amounts between 20 pounds and 2,000 pounds, up to a minimum of 15 years with more than 10,000 pounds. The maximum remains 30 years in prison.
For cocaine, the amounts are much smaller. The 3 year minimum is applied if the accused has between 28g and 200g, but the minimum then rises rapidly. Anyone caught with more than 150kg of cocaine could face life time imprisonment.
Hydrocodone sale or possession involves even smaller amounts. For example, the three year minimum, 30 year maximum prison sentence applies to amounts between 14g and 50g of the drug;
The point is that prosecutors do not need to prove with these amounts of these drugs that you intended to sell them. Mere possession is enough to slap a trafficking charge on you with much more serious penalties.
Defense against a trafficking charge
There are defenses possible with a trafficking charge. Take the example described above where you share an apartment (or a car) with someone who has large amounts of a controlled substance, yet you are unaware of it. It is possible to claim that you did not know about the presence of the drug, but under Florida law, you need an affirmative defense. In other words, you cannot just say “I never knew that the drugs were there.” You have to prove that you didn’t know about it.
If you have been arrested for trafficking, you will need effective legal representation. It is your right to be defended in court. You cannot be convicted unless the prosecution has sufficient evidence that can prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that you committed the offense. For more information or if you need legal help, you should contact Miami criminal defense attorney, Albert Quirantes, at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.