So often my clients ask me if they qualify for a downward departure when facing a drug trafficking charge or drug charges where the quantity is high enough that it qualifies as a "trafficking" charge. This is one of the most devastating effects of our current laws regarding drug trafficking -- A judge has NO discretion to downward depart on a drug trafficking charge UNLESS the State attorney (the prosecutor) agrees. Otherwise, the Judge, regardless of it being a first offense or that the person was not selling drugs, but merely possessed over X amount of a certain drug, unfortunately that automatically triggers these harsh penalties.
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.
Marijuana laws vary a great deal from state to state. While Florida is moving toward allowing the cultivation, processing and dispensation of medical marijuana, illegal possession of cannabis can still result in very serious charges.
Drug trafficking investigations often involve law enforcement agencies from multiple jurisdictions, including local police and federal authorities such as the DEA and Homeland Security. By the time a person is arrested on federal drug charges, you can be certain that authorities have gathered significant evidence.
A drug possession charge in the State of Florida can have serious consequences, but a federal charge such as drug trafficking or importation can result in even harsher penalties, including a long prison sentence. Because the stakes so high, it is crucial for individuals facing federal drug charges to have a criminal defense attorney with experience in handling cases in federal court.
Many drug charges are brought in connection with routine traffic stops. However, a minor traffic violation does not automatically give police the right to search the vehicle or the driver. If police conduct a warrantless search, then any evidence seized during the search could be suppressed.