Broward County criminal attorney William Moore has defended many individuals charged with cocaine trafficking over the last decade in South Florida. The mandatory prison sentences for cocaine trafficking convictions are so severe that a criminal charge of this nature is enough to turn ones life upside-down.
In 2008, federal agents seized nearly 9,371 kilograms of cocaine in Florida. This number is, of course, in addition to seizures by state and local law enforcement. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) notes that Florida is a popular area for international drug trafficking for several reasons. The first is that Florida has over 8,000 miles of coastline which allows drug traffickers to utilize the waters and cargo ports for smuggling. In addition, Florida has several international airports which allow transit through drug couriers and cargo facilities. Furthermore, Florida’s diverse population of persons from Central and South America contribute to cocaine transactions which initiate in Florida and allow for distribution throughout the United States. The DEA notes that transporting narcotics is becoming more popular through ground transportation methods such as by passenger vehicle, bus, and rail
As notorious as drug trafficking has become, it is important to understand the applicable Florida statute. Broward County criminal attorneys emphasize that in order to convict a criminal defendant of Trafficking in Cocaine, the State must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. Defendant knowingly either sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, brought into Florida, or possessed a certain substance
2. That was cocaine
3. That was 28 grams or more
4. Defendant knew that the substance was cocaine or a mixture containing cocaine.
The Broward County criminal defense attorneys of William Moore, P.A. are always available to provide more information on the requirements needed for the State Attorney’s Office to succeed in a conviction for a charge of cocaine trafficking.
Cocaine Trafficking Case Law Review
In State v. Dominguez, 509 So.2d 917 (1987), the Florida Supreme Court recognized that knowledge of the substance (element four referenced above) was a key component that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt before an individual can be found guilty of trafficking in cocaine. In this case, Defendant Dominguez was arrested for his alleged role in assisting another man, Joe Brooks, in selling nearly 56 grams of cocaine to an undercover narcotics officer. At trial, Defendant testified that he did not know the substance was cocaine and that he had no knowledge that Brooks was trafficking drugs. Defendant stated that he accompanied Brooks to see a movie, however, Brooks insisted on driving around the parking lot when they arrived at the theatre. Brooks finally saw a man in another car, parked in the lot. Brooks exited his vehicle and cued Defendant to bring a package to the undercover officer’s car. Defendant did in-fact hand the package to the undercover officer. Defendant was then charged trafficking cocaine. Defendant appealed on the basis of the jury instructions given. Defense counsel had asked the court to instruct the jury that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew the substance was cocaine. However, the trial court denied the request. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with Defendant and as a result modified the Florida Jury Instructions recognizing that the Defendant must have known that the substance being trafficked was cocaine or a mixture of cocaine because the mens rea, or mental state, is essential element of all trafficking offenses.
The Broward County criminal defense attorneys of William Moore, P.A. are available to discuss your case now. We never charge for an initial consultation. Call our lawyers today.
Article contributed by attorney Denise Grass.