When people think of trafficking drugs, the first thing that often comes to mind are scenes from movies involving large quantities of drugs and cash being moved through complex criminal organizations. A real-life example of this that was recently in the news was a federal case where several arrests were made from an international drug ring moving cocaine from South America through Mexico and into Los Angeles. Federal agents seized over 7,700 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $500 million from this drug ring over a three-year period. Seven individuals were indicted on federal charges and one higher-ranking member has been extradited to the United States to face charges. The criminal organization was also linked to two murders, including a video recording of a murder involving torture and dismemberment. Continue reading
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.
I was pulled over by the police, and they found medication in the car. I got the pills from a friend who has a prescription, but the prescription is not in my name. I’m taking the medication to treat a health condition I have. Can I face criminal liability for this?
Yes. As most people are aware, under Florida Statute 893.13 it is illegal to have a controlled substance in your possession unless that controlled substance is prescribed to you by a licensed practitioner providing you with medical treatment. Common controlled substances include but are not limited to amphetamines such as Adderall, benzodiazepines such a Xanax, and narcotics, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and morphine. Possession of a controlled substance without a prescription is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine. Continue reading
I want to get a prescription for this medication that I am taking illegally…
I have been using a narcotic medication that I’ve gotten from friends, but I do not have a prescription myself. I realize that being in possession of this medication without a prescription is illegal and I could face criminal charges, so I want to try to get a prescription from my doctor. If I tell my doctor the right things that they need to hear, whether or not it’s true, to get a prescription, will I be safe from criminal charges?
Most people realize that being in possession of a controlled substance without a prescription is illegal. What people often do not realize is that there are also laws in Florida that make it illegal to obtain or attempt to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance by making false statements or misrepresentations, committing fraud or forgery, or through deception. This makes it illegal to lie to a doctor to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance. It is also illegal in Florida to withhold information from a practitioner who is prescribing you a controlled substance that you have already received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous thirty (30) days. This is intended to prevent “doctor shopping,” or the practice of obtaining multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors within the same timeframe. Continue reading
Yes. There are several ways under current Florida law for a physician to face criminal liability for illegally prescribing or trafficking controlled substances. Physicians can be held criminally liable for prescribing controlled substances without conducting proper medical examinations, writing a prescription for a controlled substance if the sole purpose is to provide a monetary benefit to the physician, possessing a building or structure (the clinic or office) for the purposes of trafficking a controlled substance, writing a prescription for a fictitious person, and assisting someone in obtaining a prescription for a controlled substance through deceptive, untrue, or fraudulent representations, or through employing a trick or scheme. All of these charges are felonies, and a physician will often be charged with several of the above-mentioned criminal offenses if they’re engaged in illegally prescribing controlled substances. Continue reading
Voters in Florida recently passed an amendment to the Florida Constitution, known as the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, legalizing medical marijuana within the state. Medical marijuana is no different in substance from traditional marijuana, it is merely used for medicinal treatment purposes while under the care of a health professional. Advocates in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana believe it can relieve the symptoms and pain associated with a wide range of medical conditions. Despite this recent change in Florida Law, the possession, sale, and trafficking of marijuana for purposes not within the medical exception remains illegal.
If an individual is stopped by law enforcement for a traffic violation while in possession of marijuana and explains he has it because he’s sick or has a condition he feels marijuana provides therapeutic benefits for, can he face criminal liability? Yes.