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Under Florida law, when does cocaine possession become cocaine trafficking?

Trafficking in cocaine is a first-degree felony in Florida, but the penalties upon conviction can vary, depending on the amount of cocaine and whether the defendant has any prior convictions. Under Florida law, for a person to be convicted of trafficking, the prosecution must prove that the defendant "knowingly" took part in the manufacture, sale, purchase or delivery of drugs in the state.

Defenses against drug trafficking or distribution charges include the following:

  • Showing that the defendant was entrapped by police
  • Revealing that the drugs were confiscated through unlawful search and seizure that violated the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights
  • Showing that the defendant was in possession of the drug for personal use and not for sale or distribution
  • Proving that the prosecution lacks an evidentiary connection between the drug and the defendant

Constructive or actual possession of 28 or more grams of cocaine can result in a first-degree felony charge. Florida law establishes mandatory minimum prison sentences for cocaine offenses, and being convicted of possessing 28 or more grams but less than 200 grams typically results in a mandatory three years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

The penalties increase incrementally with larger amounts of cocaine. Constructive or actual possession of between 200 and 400 grams carries a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and a fine of $100,000. If the amount of cocaine is between 400 grams and 150 kilograms, the mandatory minimum prison sentence is 15 years with a $250,000 fine.

Being convicted of trafficking in more than 150 kilograms of cocaine can result in a life sentence.

With the stakes so high, it is crucial that anyone accused of cocaine trafficking has a strong criminal defense. Whether you are facing state or federal charges, a criminal defense lawyer can fight to protect your rights and develop a defense strategy that fits your specific situation.

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