Drug Trafficking and Possession: What’s the Difference?
In Florida, you can be charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell, or trafficking. While all three offenses carry severe penalties, the consequences for trafficking are among the harshest in the state.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these offenses:
- Simple Possession: If you are caught carrying a small quantity of an illegal substance, and the prosecutor cannot prove that you intended to sell the drug, you will likely only be charged with possession. The penalties for this offense will depend on the type and quantity of the drug you were caught carrying.
- Possession with Intent to Sell: In the event that officers have proof that you intended to sell the drug, you will likely be charged with possession with the intention to sell. For instance, if you were caught carrying a banned substance in addition to scales, drug paraphernalia, a large amount of cash, or other items that might signal that you intended to sell the drug, your charges could be elevated to possession with intent.
- Trafficking: To charge you with trafficking, officers do not require any proof of intention to sell, but merely need to demonstrate that you possessed enough of a specific drug to meet the criteria for trafficking. For instance, 28 grams or more of cocaine meets the threshold for a trafficking charge.
Sentences for drug trafficking will vary based on the type and quantity of controlled substance you were carrying at the time of the arrest. In the state, drug trafficking charges are subject to required mandatory minimum sentences. As a result, a judge cannot be “lenient” as he or she is required to dole out a sentence at or above this mandatory minimum. For example, if you are convicted for trafficking ecstasy, and you were caught carrying more than 200 grams of this banned substance, you will serve a minimum of seven years in prison if you’re convicted.
Fortunately, you will be given an opportunity to defend yourself against the charges. A skilled drug crimes attorney can assess your situation to determine how they could help you achieve a favorable outcome in your case. Common defenses against a drug trafficking charge include arguing that the drugs belonged to someone else, providing proof that the drugs were seized as part of an illegal search, or showing that you were the victim of entrapment.
Ultimately, the burden is on the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were knowingly trafficking a controlled substance. If you are able to find any weak links in the prosecution’s case, this may be enough to have your penalties reduced or the charges dropped.
Arrested for Possession or Trafficking? Contact a Drug Crimes Attorney in Stuart, FL Today
If you have been charged with possession, possession with intent to sell, or trafficking, turn to our skilled drug crimes attorneys to discuss your options. Todd A. Kawecki can assess your situation as part of a free case evaluation, taking time to answer your questions and explain your rights. Dial 772-238-6091 or send us a message via our contact page HERE to request a consultation.