Drug trafficking is the most serious drug-related crime, as it involves the sale, distribution, transport, and possession of large quantities of drugs with the intent to generate illegal profits. In the State of Florida, the punishment for drug trafficking can range from a minimum of three years to a maximum of life in prison depending on the type and amount of drug(s) being trafficked.
When law enforcement stops a person for a routine traffic stop and finds an amount of drugs in consistent with personal use in their possession, it may seem like a conviction is a foregone conclusion, but this doesn’t have to be the case. As soon as you are accused of a drug-related crime, consult a drug trafficking attorney in St. Petersburg from Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan for aggressive, experienced criminal defense with proven results.
Accused of Drug Trafficking? Consult a Drug Crimes Defense Attorney in St. Petersburg
If you or a loved one have been accused or charged with drug trafficking, you must act quickly. Every minute wasted is a minute you could’ve spent building your case alongside a drug crimes defense attorney St. Petersburg. Working with an experienced lawyer who has handled drug trafficking cases is important. Existing law enforcement protocols for collecting evidence aren’t always consistent, which results in many individuals being charged for a more severe crime than the one they actually committed.
For example, if an individual is caught with just over 25 pounds of marijuana-laced brownies, law enforcement may simply weigh the brownies and determine that the individual was trafficking in marijuana. Why? Because any individual caught with marijuana in excess of 25 pounds (but less than 2,000 pounds) meets the criteria for the mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking in marijuana — 3 years and a $25,000 fine. Florida Statute Section 893.135(1)(l)(6) states that:
“For the purpose of clarifying legislative intent regarding the weighing of a mixture containing a controlled substance described in this section, the weight of the controlled substance is the total weight of the mixture, including the controlled substance and any other substance in the mixture.”
From a logical perspective, this individual should have been charged with either misdemeanor or felony possession or felony, two crimes that carry less prison time and smaller fines than drug trafficking, but that isn’t the case in Florida. Despite only containing less than an ounce of marijuana, an individual caught with the brownies described above would be vulnerable to drug trafficking charges. It may not seem subjectively “fair,” but this is the law of the land, and in many cases, it takes the expertise of a drug trafficking attorney in St. Petersburg to get all the facts straight for your case.
Statistics on Drug Trafficking
According to the United States Sentencing Commission, 83.5% of drug trafficking offenders are men. The average age of a drug trafficker was 36 years old, and over three-quarters of these offenders were United States citizens. Seven drug types were responsible for 96.5% of drug trafficking offenses, including:
- Meth: 39.8%
- Powder Cocaine: 19.3%
- Heroin: 13.7%
- Marijuana: 11.5%
- Crack Cocaine: 7.5%
- Oxycodone: 2.4%
- Fentanyl: 2.3%
The remaining 3.5 % included a host of other drugs, like hydrocodone, carfentanil, ecstasy, GHB, and LSD. Of the above substances, meth trafficking typically results in the longest sentencing at an average of 96 months. Crack cocaine and powder cocaine carried the next longest average sentences at 78 and 74 months respectively. On the other end of the spectrum, the average sentence length for marijuana trafficking was 29 months.
What’s most shocking about drug trafficking offenses in the United States is the fact that 46.7% of offenders have little to no criminal history. In other words, you can be charged with drug trafficking even if you aren’t a career trafficker. There’s actually evidence to suggest that this is more likely to be the case — only 6.6% of drug trafficking offenders were recognized as “career offenders.” Considering the fact that the average sentence for drug trafficking was 76 months (in 2018) and 96.3% of these sentences were served in prison, you can’t afford to turn a blind eye to your charges, even if you are steadfast in your innocence.
Drug Trafficking Defenses
When an individual is charged with drug trafficking, it can feel like the beginning of the end, but this doesn’t have to be the case. At Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan, our experience as state prosecutors gives us unique insight into Florida’s complicated drug trafficking laws. After sitting down to discuss your case, we can propose one of several proven strategies to help get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed. We may be able to challenge the validity of the state’s evidence, such as challenging the police investigation over a lack of warrant or improper search or seizure. Limiting the amount of evidence against you can disrupt the prosecutor’s ability to connect the dots and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
If confidential informants or undercover agents were used to coerce you into committing a drug trafficking crime, and it can be proven that you wouldn’t have commited the crime otherwise, a drug crimes defense attorney St. Petersburg may be able to present an entrapment defense on your behalf.
Even if the facts of your case do not warrant a possible dismissal of the charges, an attorney can still request an amendment to your charges with the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office. For instance, if it can be proven that the drugs you possessed were for personal use only and there was no intent for sale or distribution, your charges could be reduced. Upon being charged with drug trafficking, the sooner you contact a drug trafficking attorney in St. petersburg, the greater your chances of having your charges reduced. Finally, an attorney may be able to help you avoid a formal conviction by transferring your case to Drug Court. This may allow you to undergo drug treatment counseling or to avoid a formal conviction.
For a free consultation with a drug crimes defense attorney in St. Petersburg, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan at (727) 578-0303 today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.