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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Florida Drug Trafficking Vs. Drug Possession

Florida Drug Trafficking Vs. Drug Possession


If you have been charged with a drug offense in Florida, it is crucial to take it seriously. Because of the state’s history with drugs, any kind of drug-related conviction carries stiff penalties in Florida, and prosecutors are zealous in making examples of people. That said, it is important to be aware of exactly what you are being charged with, as there is often very little between a simple possession charge, a charge of possession with intent to sell (PWITS), and a charge of drug trafficking.

Criteria Are Similar But Different

The definitions of all three crimes are very different, but the legal criteria required to establish a case for each one are more similar than one might think. Simple possession, for example, is when someone is charged with possession and/or control of a small quantity of an illegal substance; the crime can be anywhere from a first-degree felony to a first-degree misdemeanor, depending on the specific facts. The ‘possession’ can be actual, or it can be constructive (the drugs are in a location over which you have control).

Possession with intent to sell (PWITS) is, as one might imagine, established by the possession of an illegal substance, coupled with proof that you intend to distribute the drugs (for example, drug paraphernalia like baggies or scales, or a large amount of money). Intent matters – but if a trafficking charge, by comparison, intent is irrelevant. A prosecutor does not have to establish a person’s intent to traffick in order to charge them with trafficking; the weight and amount of the drugs found in a person’s case is enough to merit the charge.

Trafficking Can Be Smaller Than You Think

Drug trafficking is arguably the most serious of the three crimes. It is common for people charged with drug trafficking to be confused, because in pop culture, drug trafficking is the charge faced by cartel members or smugglers – people who may move enormous amounts of illegal substances. Yet the average person may wind up charged with trafficking for selling a handful of pills. In Florida, the weight of the drug you were stopped with matters most. Every substance is different, with different pharmaceutical effects – that is, 1 gram of Drug A may affect its users very differently than 1 gram of Drug B – and the weight of the controlled substance you are stopped with can make all the difference.

For example, if someone is arrested with 25 pounds of cannabis (or 300 plants), that is enough to charge them with trafficking in cannabis. However, another person who is arrested with just 7 grams of oxycodone may face the same charges, because it takes so little oxycodone, comparatively, to cause harm to its users. One would have to use quite a lot of cannabis to produce an immediate life-threatening reaction – but one oxycodone pill too many can put a person in overdose territory.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Crimes Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug offense, it can be easy to misunderstand your rights and the nature of the crime. The West Palm Beach drug crimes attorneys from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help you understand exactly what your alleged crime is, and help you plan strategies to get through the legal process. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.

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