I was recently pulled over by law enforcement, and during the traffic stop marijuana was found in my vehicle. I wasn’t planning on selling the marijuana and only had it for personal use, so why was I charged with trafficking and not possession?
Under Florida Statute, it is possible to be charged with trafficking without ever selling any marijuana if someone is in possession of a large amount. Florida Statute 893.135 defines trafficking as any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of, in excess of 25 pounds of cannabis, or 300 or more cannabis plants. Trafficking marijuana is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and fines, with minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines based on the amount of marijuana involved.
If the amount of marijuana involved in over 25 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds, or between 300 and 2,000 marijuana plants there is a minimum mandatory sentence of three years and a $25,000 fine. For amounts between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds, or 2,000 to 10,000 plants, the minimum mandatory sentence is seven years and a $50,000 fine. If the amount involved is over 10,000 pounds or 10,000 plants the mandatory minimum sentence is fifteen years and a $200,000 fine.
Trafficking cocaine and controlled substances like prescription narcotics is very similar to marijuana. Mere possession of cocaine in the amount of 28 grams to 99 grams is a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison and a $50,000 fine, 200 to 399 grams of cocaine increases the minimum sentence to seven years and a $100,000 fine, and over 400 grams is a minimum fifteen-year sentence and $250,000 fine. For possession of prescription narcotics, the amount is determined by the weight of the pill, with trafficking sentences starting at 4 grams of morphine, 14 grams of hydrocodone, and 7 grams of oxycodone.
If you are charged with trafficking, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can access what defenses may be available to you. There could be several defenses available to you that could result in your charges being reduced or dismissed. A skilled attorney can file a motion for suppression of any evidence obtained through an unlawful search and seizure. If the motion is successful, the prosecution would not be allowed to use the suppressed evidence against you in court, which often results in charges being dismissed. A defendant can also avoid minimum sentencing guidelines by providing substantial assistant to law enforcement by providing information that leads to the arrest of other individuals. If an individual has information that could substantially assist law enforcement with further criminal prosecutions their attorney can set up a meeting with law enforcement and a state attorney to discuss an agreement for a reduced sentence for the information provided. For individuals under age 21, the judge may, in their discretion, sentence them as a youthful offender which would allow the judge to avoid imposing the minimum mandatory sentencing.