Facing Harsh Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences in Florida Requires Expert Legal Advice
Florida’s war on drugs is relentless. Florida’s lawmakers continue to have mandatory minimums for drug offenses even though they don’t work.
Even still Florida takes the same old approach to drug crimes sentencing that became popular in the 1980s.
The Florida mandatory minimum drug sentences completely remove a judge’s discretion in sentencing.
A minimum mandatory sentence can be as low as 3 years or as high as 25 years, depending on the charge. And those minimum mandatory sentences apply even to people without any prior criminal record or prior felony convictions.
Additionally, they don’t take into account any of the factors a judge would normally consider when sentencing a person for any crime.
Instead, a judge has no choice but to issue the prison sentence the legislature dictates even if the person before the court doesn’t deserve that fate.
If you have drug trafficking charges pending in Florida, your future is very much at stake.
Therefore, you should seek the advice of a drug trafficking defense lawyer who has a long history of helping his clients avoid mandatory minimum drug sentences in Florida. Attorney Jeffrey Higgins has over two decades of experience defending people just like you.
What Is Drug Trafficking?
Florida’s drug trafficking law made the threshold for trafficking weight quite low. This means that possessing a relatively small amount of drugs could mean facing Florida’s mandatory minimum drug sentences.
Therefore, many people who may only use drugs or sell drugs to feed their habit can face the same offenses as big-league drug smugglers.
The phrase “drug trafficking” in Florida means:
- Selling narcotics,
- Purchasing narcotics,
- Manufacturing narcotics,
- Delivering narcotics.
- Bringing narcotics into Florida, or
- Possessing narcotics.
However, the weight of the narcotics allegedly in your possession determines whether or not you face a mandatory minimum drug sentence.
What Are the Mandatory Minimums for Drug Offenses?
Under Florida law, drug trafficking is a first-degree felony. Accordingly, under Florida Statutes section 893.135, the maximum penalty a person charged with drug trafficking faces is typically 30 years in prison.
However, under certain circumstances, a person charged with first-degree drug trafficking could face life in prison. Additionally, someone whose narcotics trafficking results in the death of another person could face capital punishment.
In Florida, mandatory minimum drug sentences depend on the weight of the drug. The table below lists some of the more common drug trafficking sentences in Florida along with the mandatory minimum prison terms and fines.
|Trafficking in Cannabis||25 to 2,000 pounds or 300 to 2,000 plants||3 years||$25,000|
|2,000 to 10,000 pounds or 2,000 to 10,000 plants||7 years||$50,000|
|More than 10,000 pounds or 10,000 plants||15 years||$200,000|
|Trafficking in Cocaine||28 grams (one ounce) to 200 grams||3 years||$50,000|
|200 grams to 400 grams||7 years||$100,000|
|400 grams to 150 kilograms||15 years||$250,000|
|First-degree trafficking in Cocaine||150 kilograms or more||Life without parole||$250,000|
|Trafficking in Illegal Drugs (Heroin/Morphine)||4 grams to 14 grams||3 years||$50,000|
|14 grams to 28 grams||15 years||$100,000|
|28 grams to 30 kilograms||25 years||$500,000|
|First-Degree Trafficking in Illegal Drugs||More than 30 kilograms||Life without parole||$500,000|
|Trafficking in Fentanyl (including derivative substances)||4 grams to 14 grams||3 years||$50,000|
|14 grams to 28 grams||15 years||$100,000|
|28 grams or more||25 years||$500,000|
Defenses Against Florida Mandatory Minimum Sentences
The defenses that are available to you depend on the facts and are unique to your case.
Filing a motion to suppress evidence seized from you is one avenue of defense. A motion to suppress argues that the court should exclude evidence because the police violated your rights, usually by conducting an illegal search.
If you are successful in excluding critical evidence, the prosecution might have to lower your charges or dismiss your case entirely.
In addition to filing a motion to suppress, you could take your case to trial and argue that the prosecution can’t prove you possessed the narcotics in question. The prosecution must present evidence at trial to connect you to the drugs.
If the drugs were not found on your person, you may be able to claim that they did not belong to you or that you had no knowledge that they existed. That is the difference between actual possession and constructive possession.
If the state cannot prove that you had knowledge and control of the drugs in question, then you may be able to avoid conviction at trial.
Finally, a drug defense lawyer who is a strong negotiator may be able to help you avoid Florida mandatory minimum drug sentences under certain circumstances. Admittedly, this can be difficult.
But an experienced lawyer will know where the state’s case is weak, and they may be able to negotiate a lesser charge and lighter sentence than the harsh mandatory minimums for drug offenses.
How Can You Avoid Florida Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences?
Call Florida drug defense lawyer Jeffery Higgins and his team with Orlando Defense today at 407-616-1432 to learn how you might be able to avoid serving a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
With over 20 years of trial experience, Attorney Higgins has the knowledge, insight, and skills you need to get the best result possible for your case. Call now to see how Attorney Higgins can help you.