Across the United States, drug laws tend to be implemented in a rather overbroad and strict manner, making it difficult for offenders to avoid a serious conviction in certain circumstances. Florida law presents unique difficulties in this regard. In the state of Florida, drug possession can lead to inflated charges of drug trafficking, even if you do not evidence an intent to sell, distribute, or otherwise transfer the drug to another person.
Mere Possession of Certain Quantities Is Enough
Pursuant to Section 893.135 of the Florida Statutes, the mere possession of a certain amount of drugs (i.e., cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, and other controlled substances) is enough to lead to drug trafficking charges. Section 893.135(1) provides for the specific tiered drug amounts and the concomitant penalties.
For example, if you have 50 grams of cocaine in the glove compartment of your car, you will be subject to 3 years’ mandatory minimum prison sentence, and a $50k fine.
Trafficking charges are associated with significant penalties when compared to drug possession charges – in fact, all drug trafficking crimes in Florida are 1st degree felonies and therefore carry minimum mandatory sentences.
Florida law is particularly strict as it makes possessors vulnerable to trafficking charges even if there was no intent to actually distribute drugs. Intent to actually or constructively possess is enough.
As Section 893.135(2) indicates, “A person acts knowingly under subsection (1) if that person intends to sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, or bring into this state, or to actually or constructively possess, any of the controlled substances listed in subsection (1), regardless of which controlled substance listed in subsection (1) is in fact sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, or brought into this state, or actually or constructively possessed.”
Fortunately, actual or constructive possession without intent will not subject you to trafficking charges. Confused? Let’s break this down with a comparative example.
Suppose that you privately grow cannabis at home, for pleasure. You do not share, sell, or otherwise distribute the cannabis you grow to others. At any given time, you possess at least 25 pounds of cannabis, or at least 300 cannabis plants.
Under Section 893.135, you would be charged with drug trafficking and would be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison and a $25k fine.
Now, suppose instead that you live in a house with a housemate. Your housemate has been secretly using one of your rooms to grow cannabis. As a result, you actually or constructively possess over 25 pounds of cannabis, or at least 300 cannabis plants.
In the aforementioned situation, you would not be held liable for drug trafficking under Florida law, as you did not actually intend to possess the cannabis – it came into your possession unknowingly.
If you have been charged with the possession of controlled substances, you may be vulnerable to trafficking charges, depending on the amounts that law enforcement officers found in your possession. Drug trafficking cases can be difficult to litigate, and the stakes are high – you should hire an attorney that you can trust will fight aggressively for your rights both in and out of the courtroom.
Call (941) 900-3100 as soon as possible to speak with experienced Sarasota criminal defense attorneys at Fowler Law Group today.