Mandatory minimum sentences force judges to sentence many addicted defendants as drug traffickers. Criminal Defense Attorney William Moore (Broward County) explained recently that even if a judge wanted to show mercy to vulnerable defendants, he or she has no way of deviating.
Determining Weight of Pills
According to Criminal Defense Attorney William Moore, drug trafficking is defined as the sale, manufacture, possession, delivery of controlled substances in excess of certain quantity or weight. The quantity or weight of the confiscated drugs plays a major role in defining this crime.
“Simple possession most often results in a dismissal for the motivated first time offender. Possessing enough pills (sometimes 50) to be charged with trafficking can subject an individual to decades in prison on a mandatory sentence.” –Criminal Defense Attorney William Moore
As per Florida Statute 893.135, when a person is found to possess a certain quantity of drugs, the person is deemed to be trafficking in drugs. This may seem unfair, especially when there is no evidence that suggests the person possessing the drugs was involved in either delivery or sale of the drugs. However, Florida is taking a tough stance in its war against drugs, and drug trafficking statutes are enforced rigorously by law authorities.
Drug Trafficking Penalties
The penalties for drug trafficking charges are quite harsh with imposition of minimum mandatory sentences upon conviction. However, these sentences differ according to the type of drugs and the quantity that was found. Here is a list of mandatory minimum sentences for some of the usual drugs.
If the quantity of marijuana found in the person’s possession is between 25 to less than 2000 pounds, or if there are 300 to 2,000 marijuana plants, then the minimum mandatory sentence is $25,000 fine and three years jail time. For quantities more than 2000 pounds and less than 10,000 pounds, or 2000 to less than 10,000 marijuana plants, the minimum sentence is $50,000 fine and seven years in jail. For over 10,000 pounds or marijuana plants, it is $200,000 fine and 15 years jail term.
For 28 to less than 200 grams of cocaine, the minimum sentence is $50,000 fine and three years in jail. For quantities between 200 grams to less than 400 grams, the person is penalized with $100,000 fine and 15 years jail term. For 400 grams to less than 150 grams, it is $250,000 fine and 15 years jail time.
Oxycodone or Hydrocodone Trafficking
Trafficking in any of these two substances, have the same minimum sentences. For quantities between four and less than 14 grams, the minimum penalty is $50,000 fine and 3 years in jail. For quantities between 14 grams and less than 28 grams, the minimum sentence is $100,000 fine and 15 years jail time. Twenty-eight grams or more and less than 300 kilograms, the minimum penalty is $500,000 fine and 25 years in jail.
How are Drugs Weighed for Sentencing
Controlled substances that are available on the streets are rarely in pure form according to criminal defense attorney Moore. The common practice of the suppliers is to adulterate or “cut” the drugs in order to increase the quantity and get more profits. However, Florida law does not consider the purity of the drugs while weighing the quantity in possession of the culprit/s. Florida Statute 893.135(1)(I)(6) clarifies that the substance weight will be the total weight and shall include the controlled substance and any other substance present in the mixture.
“This is the aggregate weight of all of the cutting mix or aspirin filler in a pharmaceutical drug.” –William Moore Criminal Defense Broward County
Hence, when a person is found in possession of mixture that has 20 grams of pure cocaine and 8 grams of additives like lactose or baking soda, the charges will be for 28 grams of cocaine trafficking. However, if the law enforcement authorities seize the pure form of the drug and additives separately, then only the weight of the pure drug is considered, as the “cutting” agent is not a controlled substance. –Broward Criminal Defense Attorney, William Moore
In cases where prescription medication is involved the total weight of the pills is considered for determining the minimum threshold for a trafficking charge. Even though the “active” ingredient in the pills, which is the actual controlled substance, may form a miniscule portion of the entire weight, the total weight is considered for framing charges claims Broward Criminal Lawyer Jim Weick.
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