Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid drug used orally as pain relief. It is sometimes taken as a cough suppressant. It is prescribed mostly in the United States and is less potent than oxycodone, according to one study. The prescription can be for a variety of formulations, including immediate-release with paracetamol under the names Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, Lorcet, and Maxidone. Although it is a prescription drug, it is illegal to have it without a prescription or through prescription fraud. If you are caught with a certain threshold amount without a valid prescription, Clearwater hydrocodone trafficking lawyer Will Hanlon can help you fight the resulting charge.Charges of Hydrocodone Trafficking
Hydrocodone trafficking is a first-degree felony charged under Florida Statute 893.135 when a suspect is caught knowingly possessing, buying, selling, making, carrying into the state, or delivering at least 14 grams of hydrocodone. Fourteen grams is known as the threshold amount, and this amount is less than one month's prescription supply of hydrocodone. However, the penalties may get steeper, depending on the precise amount involved.
If you are convicted of hydrocodone trafficking, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence. Mandatory minimum sentences are a minimum prison term and fine over which a judge has no discretion. In other words, the judge will not take into consideration that this is a first offense, or any other mitigating circumstances that would ordinarily warrant a downward departure in a drug crime case. You could be a straight A college student with no criminal record, and yet if you are caught possessing 14 grams of hydrocodone or about 22 pills, you can be charged with hydrocodone trafficking and face the possibility of going to prison for years. A hydrocodone trafficking attorney can fight for Clearwater residents in an effort to avoid these penalties.
When the hydrocodone involved is 14-28 grams, the judge is required to sentence you to three years in prison and a fine of $50,000. When the hydrocodone involved is 28-50 grams, the judge is required to sentence you to seven years in prison and a fine of $100,000. When the hydrocodone involved is 50-200 grams, the judge is required to sentence you to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. When the hydrocodone involved is 200 grams-30 kg, the judge is required to sentence you to 25 years and a $750,000 fine.
There are different defenses that a Clearwater criminal lawyer may be able to use on your behalf, depending on your situation. Sometimes we can attack the evidence being used by the government. The prosecution is required to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which it cannot do if it does not have evidence of drugs or does not have evidence of the threshold amount of drugs in a hydrocodone trafficking case. In some cases, constructive possession was not "knowing," and it may be possible for a Clearwater hydrocodone trafficking attorney to raise a reasonable doubt about this issue. For example, if your college roommate was storing 20 grams of hydrocodone in a shared closet, you could get charged with trafficking for constructive possession of more than the threshold amount. However, it may be possible to challenge the element that the alleged constructive possession was "knowing."
In other cases, there may be other strategies that are appropriate. For example, it may be appropriate to use aggressive questioning of confidential informants. The police will try to keep the identity of a CI private, but it may be possible to identify the CI or use CI involvement to influence the jury's impression of the case. In other cases, it may be appropriate to raise entrapment. Entrapment occurs when an undercover police officer puts pressure on a person to perpetrate a crime that they would not otherwise perpetrate. Entrapment is not applicable to many situations, but it can be successful in certain cases, and we can raise it if it is appropriate. In some situations, it is appropriate to negotiate with the prosecutor to amend the charges to others that carry fewer penalties.Get Started with a Knowledgeable Hydrocodone Trafficking Lawyer in Clearwater
Hydrocodone trafficking charges in Clearwater are taken seriously by prosecutors and judges alike. If you are convicted, your ability to get a job, go to school, obtain professional licenses, carry a gun, get financial aid, or secure housing may be imperiled. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has protected the rights of the accused since 1994 in cases involving trafficking in hydrocodone or other controlled substances, such as LSD or GHB. He understands which defense strategies are likely to be successful in his clients' cases. You can call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.