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The Florida Bar

Trafficking Controlled Substances

<!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}Trafficking Controlled Substances

The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act prohibits “trafficking” in certain controlled substances, that is, the knowing sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, importation, or actual or constructive possession of a specified, relatively large quantity of the substance. Thus, the first element that the State must prove is that the defendant, with guilty knowledge (i.e., knowledge of the presence of the controlled substance) sold or otherwise acted in a prohibited manner with respect to the substance. Under the statute, the sale or other prohibited act is knowing if the person intends to sell or commit other prohibited acts as to any of the controlled substances listed in the statute regardless of which controlled substance is actually involved. Intent may be established by circumstantial evidence. Thus, evidence that shots were fired at police executing a search warrant and that a search of the house revealed an envelope containing 3½ ounces of cocaine, a baby scale containing residue of cocaine, a triple-beam scale, two handguns, two unloaded rifles, and a beeper was sufficient to establish intent to traffic in a controlled substance.

Where the State relies on circumstantial evidence to support a conviction for trafficking, that evidence must exclude every reasonable hypothesis but that of guilt. Mere presence at a site where drug trafficking is being committed or in a car where the requisite quantity of a controlled substance is found will not sustain a conviction for trafficking. Moreover, evidence merely that the defendant was in proximity to a controlled substance is insufficient to support a conviction for trafficking.

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