With many criminal charges, your prior history may play a role in your sentencing. With drugs, this may not necessarily be the case. Surprisingly, of drug trafficking offenses in the United States, 46.7% of offenders have little to no criminal history according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC).
In this brief article, a drug crimes attorney in St. Petersburg with our team at Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan shares some helpful information if you are facing drug trafficking charges for the first time.
What is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking is defined by Florida law as the the sale, delivery, manufacturing, or possession of illegal drugs and controlled substances over a certain weight or quantity. Drug trafficking is depicted in the movies with drug cartels and shipping containers full of drugs, but in actuality someone possessing as few as four grams of a controlled substance (including some legal prescription medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone) can be charged with drug trafficking.
Drug trafficking punishments vary depending on the substance being trafficked as well as the amount, and range from a minimum of three years to a maximum of life in prison. That is on top of possible steep fines and court costs.
First-Time Drug Trafficking Offenders
Florida statutes provide that if a person is found with a certain quantity of a drug in their possession, the person is considered to be “trafficking” in the drug trade, even if there is no evidence suggesting that the person was going to sell or deliver the drugs to anyone else — which is where many first-time “offenders” find themselves.
Unlike other crimes that take into account your history of prior criminal activity, or lack thereof, drug trafficking laws have minimum mandatory sentences based solely on the type and amount of drug that was allegedly trafficked. So even if you are a first-time offender, you might still face a serious punishment.
What Should You Do If Arrested for Drug Trafficking?
If you’ve been arrested for drug trafficking, the single most important thing to do is contact a drug trafficking attorney. After sitting down to discuss your case, we can propose one of several proven strategies to help get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed.
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.
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.