State and federal law calls for severe criminal sentences in cases involving large quantities of drugs. These sentences are often governed by mandatory minimums, which guarantee that those convicted will spend years or even decades behind bars.
When facing these serious consequences, it is important that you work with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help you challenge the charges and minimize the impact the accusations will have on your life.
The Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A., has extensive experience handling drug cases at both the state and federal level. If you have been accused of possessing, transporting or selling large quantities of drugs, contact our Orlando drug crime attorneys to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.
When someone is in possession of large quantities of illegal drugs, the crime is referred to as "trafficking" under Florida law. A drug possession charge rising to the level of trafficking is based on the quantity of the drug possessed. Trafficking is a felony, and the mandatory minimum penalties in Florida for trafficking are surprisingly severe. The best chance you have to minimize the damage that trafficking charges could have on your life is to hire an experienced Florida large-quantity drug crimes defense attorney team.
Drug trafficking is a felony charge based on the quantity of the drugs in possession.
It is a legal maxim that criminal penalties should have a proportionate relationship to the crime that caused these penalties to be incurred: The penalty should fit the crime. Everyone has heard this principle and it has an inherent sense of justice to it.
One area of criminal law in which it is difficult to find this proportionality is drug crimes.
These are the maximum possible penalties, but even the minimum mandatory sentences for large-quantity drug crimes can be severe. These cases are prosecuted vigorously by the federal government.
Federal drug crime sentencing schedules are based on type of drug, quantity and the number of prior convictions that the accused has received.
Like most drug crimes, marijuana possession brings varying penalties depending on the quantity involved. Although marijuana is considered by many to be the least harmful of illegal drugs, the penalties levied by the state and federal governments for marijuana crimes are surprisingly harsh.
Under state law, possession of any quantity in excess of 25 pounds of marijuana is considered trafficking. Possession of 10,000 pounds or more can result in penalties that include 15 years minimum term of imprisonment, up to a 25-year maximum and a $25,000 fine.
Federal charges can lead to even longer sentences. A conviction at the federal level for quantities ranging between 100 kilograms and 999 kilograms, or between 100 and 999 plants can bring up to 40 years imprisonment and $2,000,000 in fines for a first offense; 10 years to life and $4,000,000 in fines for a second offense.
Marijuana possessed in excess of 999 kilograms or 1,000 plants can bring 10 years to life imprisonment and up to $4,000,000 for a first offense; for a second offense, 20 years to life incarceration and $8,000,000 in fines.
Facing cocaine charges at the state or federal level is a scary event. The penalties can be severe, changing your life forever if you are convicted. Generally, the sentences for cocaine possession increases as the quantity increases. For this reason, it is especially important to work with an experienced team of criminal law attorneys if you have been charged with a drug crime involving large quantities of cocaine. It is highly unlikely that you will get another chance to defend against these charges.
According to Florida state law, possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine results in cocaine trafficking charges. The actual penalties for trafficking vary depending on the exact quantity possessed, ranging from a mandatory minimum 3-year incarceration and a $50,000 fine for 28 grams of cocaine to $250,000 in fines and mandatory life imprisonment for 150 kg of cocaine or more.
Under federal law, possession with intent to deliver 28 to 279 grams carries a mandatory 5-year incarceration and a $5,000,000 fine. If convicted of possession with intent to deliver 500 to 4,999 grams, a federal cocaine conviction could result in up to life imprisonment and $20,000,000 in fines.
If the regular, powder cocaine sentences are harsh, the crack cocaine sentences are draconian. The disparity in the legal treatment of powder cocaine and crack cocaine is tremendous. For many years, the federal sentencing rule was 100:1. Someone convicted of possessing 100 ounces of powdered cocaine would receive the same penalty as someone who was convicted of possessing a single ounce of crack.
In 2010, the federal government amended this law to be an 18:1 ratio. Although this is a move in the right direction, the disparity is still extraordinary under both federal and Florida state laws. If you are facing charges involving crack cocaine, there is an even greater urgency to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
The penalties associated with a conviction for possession of even small amounts of heroin are severe. As the quantity of the drug increases, the penalties increase, as well. When the quantity surpasses a certain level, the government imputes intent to deliver, based on the legal presumption that people do not carry that much heroin for personal use. State trafficking or federal possession with intent to deliver charges are extremely serious, with the possibility of tragic consequences to your life.
Possession of heroin in a quantity of 4 grams or more is considered felony trafficking in Florida. Penalties for a heroin trafficking conviction in Florida can result in a mandatory minimum 3-year incarceration and a $50,000 fine for smaller amounts, to a mandatory minimum 25-year incarceration and a $500,000 fine for quantities between 28 grams and 30 kilograms. Possession of 30 kilograms or more is considered first degree felony trafficking, which comes with a sentence of mandatory life imprisonment with no eligibility for early release.
At the federal level, possession of between 100 and 999 grams of a mixture containing heroin will bring 40 years imprisonment and up to $2,000,000 in fines. For a single kilogram or more, a conviction could result in 10 years to life and a $4,000,000 fine.
There is no nice outcome to a conviction of methamphetamine possession. The penalties for possession of even small amounts could be damaging to your life and livelihood, but when the quantity possessed is higher, the penalties can be devastating. For possession with intent to deliver meth, Federal law calls the crime possession with intent to distribute and state law calls it trafficking. The fines and mandatory minimum sentences are much higher for these crimes.
Possessing 14 grams or more of methamphetamines, amphetamines, or the chemicals used in making these drugs is considered felony trafficking in Florida. Depending on the quantity in a case, penalties for a conviction range from a mandatory minimum 3-year incarceration and a $50,000 fine to 15 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Manufacturing or bringing into Florida more than 400 grams knowing that this would likely causes someone's death is a capital felony, punishable by life imprisonment or death.
In the federal courts, a second conviction of between 5 and 49 grams of meth or between 50 and 499 grams of a mixture containing meth brings 10 years to life imprisonment and up to $8,000,000 in fines. A second conviction of 50 grams or more of meth, or 500 grams or more of a mixture containing meth, brings 20 years to life imprisonment and up to $20,000,000 in fines.
If you have been accused of a crime involving large quantities of drugs, it is important that you work with a skilled criminal defense attorney in the days ahead. These cases can be extremely complex; the sooner you begin to work with our law firm, the more opportunities we will have to protect your rights and freedom.
For a consultation with a lawyer from The Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A., call our Orlando drug crime lawyers at (407) 901-5852 or contact us online.
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