Busting Myths About Drug Trafficking In Florida
Drug trafficking is an offense that carries potentially severe sentences as well as social stigma. However, the crime itself is not well understood, at least not in Florida; too much misinformation is out there, and it can lead someone to make potentially poor decisions if they are charged with trafficking themselves. It is crucial to be aware of exactly what drug trafficking is and is not, and how best to navigate the legal process if you have been arrested and charged with the crime.
MYTH: In order to be charged with drug trafficking in Florida, I need to have the intent to sell them or transport them across state lines.
Fact: If you are stopped by law enforcement and they find a certain amount of drugs on your person or within your control, you can be charged with drug trafficking solely based on the weight of the substance (or mixture) in question. The weight that will trigger a trafficking charge will differ from drug to drug – for example, a person must have at least 28 grams of hydrocodone (Norco or Vicodin) in their possession to face a trafficking charge; while someone must have more than 25 pounds of cannabis.
MYTH: Most trafficking charges only happen as a result of entrapment by law enforcement.
Fact: Entrapment is a legal defense which argues that the defendant in a case was substantially encouraged to commit the crime, and without that encouragement, they would not have done so. It is common in drug cases, where law enforcement allegedly pushes defendants into buying or selling drugs, after which they threaten them with consequences unless they act as a confidential informant for police. While it is not truly possible to ascertain how many defendants were entrapped into convictions, if you feel that it has occurred in your case, the best way to fight it is to engage a knowledgeable attorney.
MYTH: Even if I am convicted, I may get probation or another light sentence, so it’s not a big deal.
Fact: Florida’s history with drugs and drug trafficking has led to harsh penalties for drug offenders. As a result, every drug-related conviction in the state carries at least a short period of jail time, with many sentences codified in Florida law as mandatory minimums. Mandatory minimum sentences were instituted in the 1990s and 2000s as a possible way to deter future drug crime, with minimal success. Nonetheless, they remain in place as of this writing; a judge cannot lower a mandatory minimum, only raise it.
Even if it were possible to receive probation as a sentence for drug trafficking, there would still be potential long-term consequences. Drug trafficking convictions cannot be expunged from a person’s criminal record, which means that in the future, any potential landlord or employer may be able to view the sentence. Drug crimes are seen as moral failures by many, and a person or company has the right to decline to rent to or hire someone with drug trafficking in their past.
Call A West Palm Beach Drug Crimes Attorney
Drug trafficking is one of the most serious crimes in Florida law, and if you have been charged with this offense, it is crucial to enlist an experienced West Palm Beach drug crime attorney to help you get through the legal process while protecting your rights. The firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. has experience in these cases and we are ready and willing to try and assist you with your case. Contact us today to speak to an attorney.