Cocaine Trafficking - Mandatory Minimums

Drug Crime Attorney Representing Defendants in the Bradenton Area

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in spite of billions of dollars spent trying to get rid of illicit crops and seize drugs, efforts to fight drug trafficking around the world have mostly failed. Around 246 million people around the world have used an illicit drug. Cocaine is one of the most commonly trafficked drugs worldwide. If you are being investigated for or charged with cocaine trafficking, it is crucial to consult a Bradenton cocaine trafficking lawyer because you may face a mandatory minimum sentence upon a conviction. Hanlon Law protects the rights of the accused and provides personalized attention to each client.

Cocaine Trafficking - Mandatory Minimums

Cocaine trafficking is a serious charge that carries the potential for a mandatory minimum sentence. A mandatory minimum sentence is one over which the judge will have no discretion. Federal mandatory minimum sentences are often criticized for transferring the power of sentencing from a judge to a prosecutor. A prosecutor can use the threat of a long mandatory minimum sentence in order to scare a defendant into pleading guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence. They can be used similarly in Florida in cases involving cocaine, LSD, morphine, and many other drugs.

Cocaine trafficking can be charged under Florida Statute section 893.135 if a threshold amount is involved in your activities. You can be charged if you are in actual or constructive possession of 28 grams, or if you have bought, sold, delivered, or smuggled that amount into Florida. The mandatory minimum sentence will depend on exactly how much cocaine over that amount is involved.

When a conviction involves 28 grams-200 grams of cocaine, the mandatory minimum sentence that the court must impose is 3 years in prison and a fine of $50,000. When a conviction involves 200-400 grams of cocaine, the mandatory minimum sentence that the court must impose is 7 years in prison and a fine of $100,000. When a conviction involves 400 grams-150 kg. of cocaine, the mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. When more than 150 kg. of cocaine resulted in a conviction, you can face the possibility of life imprisonment.

Most people find it understandably stressful to face the possibility of a mandatory minimum sentence. If you are charged with cocaine trafficking or trafficking in another substance, such as meth or cannabis, you may feel that your life is over. However, depending on the situation, your attorney may be able to raise a strong defense strategy, based on procedural errors or substantive arguments. The prosecutor must establish their trafficking charge beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction, and in some instances, the prosecution has significant problems with its account of what happened. If constructive possession is the basis for the trafficking charge, for example, it may be possible to raise a reasonable doubt about whether you knew of the presence of the cocaine and were able to exercise dominion and control over the cocaine.

In one case, the defendant had cocaine on her person when she was arrested, but crack was also found in a bag in her car. The State was required to establish that she was knowingly in actual or constructive possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine. Since she was not in actual possession of the crack, constructive possession needed to be proven with regard to the brown paper bag behind the passenger seat of her car, which was jointly occupied. Knowledge and control therefore could not be inferred based only on her proximity to the bag. Instead, the State needed to show that she had actual knowledge that the crack cocaine was there and the ability to control it, or it needed to show that she made incriminating statements. In that case, the appellate court found that the State had not met its burden because it failed to present fingerprint evidence, eyewitness testimony, admissions, or other evidence that tended to show that she had dominion and control over the bag. The judgment and sentence for cocaine trafficking were reversed.

Consult a Knowledgeable Bradenton Attorney for Your Cocaine Charge

Florida's proximity to countries where drugs are often produced or distributed can result in its being used as a gateway for cocaine and other drugs to be smuggled into the country. Commercial and private aircraft, maritime vessels, and even commercial trucks or buses can be used to bring cocaine into the state. Accordingly, Florida lawmakers, prosecutors, and courts take drug trafficking charges seriously. If you have been charged with cocaine trafficking in Bradenton, you are at risk of receiving a mandatory minimum sentence, so you should retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Our firm's founder, Will Hanlon, has represented the accused since 1994. You can call Hanlon Law at 941.462.1789 or complete our online form to discuss a situation involving a charge of trafficking in cocaine, morphine, cannabis, hydrocodone, oxycodone, or another substance.