Ever since Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs” in the early 1970s, both the federal government and state drug enforcement agencies have pursued a relentless battle against people allegedly engaged in the use, sale, transport, and trafficking of controlled substances like cocaine. Because of its geography, Florida is an especially “target-rich environment” in the battle against drug trafficking. Knowledgeable St. Petersburg and Clearwater cocaine trafficking lawyer Will Hanlon has 20 years of experience as a drug crime attorney. He has observed many incidents of overreach by police and prosecutors, and he knows that mistakes are often made, causing innocent people to be inappropriately charged.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, trafficking in drugs is “a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale or substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws.” Drugs like cocaine are typically imported from other countries. Cocaine is primarily exported from South American countries such as Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia. Although much of the cocaine that is ultimately sold in the United States is brought into the country on the Pacific coast or along the Mexican border, cocaine may also travel through the Caribbean, making its way into South Florida and from there to other states.Defining the Crime of Cocaine Trafficking Under Florida Law
Under Florida Statutes § 893.135(1)(b), a person who traffics in cocaine commits a felony. The exact punishment depends on the amount of the substance that the defendant allegedly sold, purchased, delivered, or brought into the state. For example, a person who traffics in at least 28 grams but less than 200 grams of cocaine (or any mixture containing cocaine) faces a mandatory minimum term of three years in prison and a $50,000 fine. For amounts between 200 grams and 400 grams, the mandatory term of imprisonment is seven years, and the fine is $100,000. For amounts over 400 grams but less than 150 kilograms, imprisonment for 15 years and a fine of $250,000 is the prescribed punishment.
Trafficking in more than 150 kilograms of cocaine is considered a first-degree felony. Depending upon the defendant’s previous criminal record, they might potentially be punished with life imprisonment without the possibility of early release. Because of the harsh punishments possible under Florida law for alleged drug offenders, it is imperative that a person accused of trafficking in cocaine or a similar offense speak to a cocaine trafficking attorney in Clearwater or St. Petersburg as soon as possible.
There may be a constitutional defense such as an illegal search or seizure by police. For example, drug enforcement agents may have entered a defendant’s apartment without a warrant or the exigent circumstances required to support a warrantless search. A criminal attorney can file a motion to suppress the improperly seized evidence, such as paraphernalia indicating a plan to sell cocaine. It also may be possible to defeat the charges by pointing out weaknesses or gaps in the prosecution’s evidence.
Unless the State is able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant may not be convicted in criminal court. In many cases, trafficking charges are reduced to much less significant possession charges because the prosecution decides that it cannot show that the defendant had the intent to distribute the cocaine.Discuss a Cocaine Trafficking Charge with a Clearwater or St. Petersburg Lawyer
The sooner that a person accused of – or even suspected of – drug trafficking speaks with capable legal counsel, the more likely it is that they will be able to persuasively mount any possible defense available under the set of facts presented by their case. Seasoned St. Petersburg and Clearwater cocaine trafficking attorney Will Hanlon handles many different types of drug crime cases. To talk to him about your case, call 727-897-5413 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. We also handle cases in Newport Richey, Dade City, and the surrounding areas. In addition to charges involving cocaine, we can assist people who need a marijuana lawyer or are facing charges related to meth, heroin, or prescription drugs.