Cocaine is a powerful addictive stimulant that has some valid medical purposes, but it is an illegal street drug. It usually appears as a fine white powder, and it is sometimes mixed by dealers with flour, talcum, or cornstarch, or other drugs like amphetamine . It is sometimes called crack, coke, blow, rock, or snow. When large quantities of cocaine are used, exchanged, or simply possessed, an ordinary person can be charged with cocaine trafficking and face a mandatory minimum sentence. If you are charged, you should consult Clearwater cocaine trafficking lawyer Will Hanlon, who fights for the rights of the accused.Cocaine Trafficking Charges Carry Serious Penalties
Charges of trafficking in cocaine in Florida are serious because judges must impose mandatory minimum sentences if you are convicted. Mandatory minimum sentences are those over which judges do not have discretion. They cannot look at whether this was your first offense or whether there were any factors that might mitigate the crime. Instead, if there is a conviction, you will get a particular sentence. If you are caught possessing just 28 grams of cocaine, you can be charged with trafficking. Trafficking can include actual or constructive possession, as well as buying, selling, delivering, or carrying a substance into the state.
Under Florida Statute section 893.135, if you are caught trafficking cocaine in quantities of 28-200 grams, you must be sentenced to a mandatory minimum of three years’ imprisonment and a $50,000 fine. The next level up is cocaine trafficking involving 200-400 grams. In that case, the mandatory minimum sentence for a conviction is seven years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The next highest level involves 400 grams to 150 kg of cocaine, in which case you may be sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment and fined $250,000. If you are caught with more than 150 kg of cocaine, you may face first-degree felony charges that can result in life in prison without eligibility for parole and other kinds of discretionary early release.
It can be stressful and anxiety-provoking to be charged with cocaine trafficking. However, there are procedural and substantive defenses that a cocaine trafficking attorney in Clearwater may be able to raise on your behalf. Procedural defenses may include raising your Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights.
Under the Fourth Amendment, you are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. Accordingly, police are not permitted to stop you and demand to search you on a hunch that you have drugs. They need to have a reasonable suspicion to do a traffic stop, and in many situations, they must obtain a search warrant by showing probable cause that you committed a crime in order to search your home or another area under your control. (The crime does not need to be a cocaine crime necessarily but can be another type of crime, such as battery.) After the warrant is issued, the officer may perform a search within the warrant's scope, and the evidence found will stand. However, there are situations in which the police do not have a reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop, or do not need the requisite probable cause for a warrant or to conduct a search because one of the exceptions to the rule about warrants applies. If they get evidence of cocaine trafficking through an illegal search or seizure, however, a Clearwater criminal lawyer may be able to have the evidence suppressed.
In other cases, your Clearwater cocaine trafficking attorney may be able to argue entrapment. That would be an appropriate defense if you would not have trafficked in cocaine if you were not coerced by the police. There are also situations in which it has been appropriate to defend against drug trafficking charges by offering law enforcement what is known as substantial assistance. When someone provides substantial assistance, however, they become a confidential informant, which can have negative repercussions for some people upon release from police custody. Each case is unique, and we work with our clients to make sure that they understand the consequences of a particular defense strategy. The consequences may be different if you are charged not only with cocaine trafficking but also with other crimes, such as gun crimes or sex crimes.Contact an Experienced Cocaine Trafficking Lawyer in Clearwater
Cocaine trafficking is punished harshly. Whether or not you are convicted may depend partially on being represented by a skillful drug crime defense attorney who understands the strategies that may apply to your situation. Our founder, Will Hanlon, is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused. He has represented people charged with trafficking in substances such as cocaine, meth, marijuana, and morphine since 1994. You can contact Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or through our online form.