If you have been charged with a drug crime in Florida, either at the state or federal level, the potential penalties for a conviction can be serious, including a significant term of imprisonment. It is crucial that you understand those potential penalties and your rights as a defendant. Consulting with an experienced drug defense lawyer immediately is the best way to ensure that your rights are protected and allow your attorney to begin mounting a vigorous defense strategy to try and prevent a conviction.
At Haas Law, we have the skills, experience, and resources needed to protect you, your rights, and your future if you have been accused of a state or federal drug offense. As a former federal prosecutor, attorney David Haas understands how the government investigates and prosecutes drug crimes and will use that knowledge to defend you in a state or federal drug prosecution.
State vs. Federal Drug Prosecutions
In the United States, we have what is referred to as a federalist form of government. As such, we have both a federal judicial system and individual state judicial systems, meaning you could be prosecuted for a drug crime by the state or federal government. For the federal government to assert jurisdiction over an alleged crime, one of the following must apply:
- The offense occurred on federal land or involved federal officers.
- The criminal conduct crossed state lines.
- The criminal offense involved the accused crossing state lines during the commission of the crime.
- The crime involved fraud, deception, or misrepresentation on the federal government.
- The crime is a violation of federal immigration/customs law.
When the U.S. government prosecutes drug-related crimes, jurisdiction is usually based on “the criminal conduct crossed state lines” using the theory that the drugs and/or money involved crossed state lines at some point. Although the federal government can assert jurisdiction over most drug crimes, federal law enforcement agencies typically focus on targeting large-scale drug operations, which means that usually only drug manufacturing or trafficking cases are prosecuted in federal court.
Federal Drug Crime Prosecutions
At the federal level, Title 21 of the United States Code (USC) governs criminal offenses related to controlled substances and is commonly referred to as the “Controlled Substance Act (CSA)”. Section 841of the CSA makes it illegal to:
(1) to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance; or
(2) to create, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to distribute or dispense, a counterfeit substance.
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) categorizes all controlled substances into one of five schedules based on medical use, the potential for abuse, and safety or dependence liability. Both the level of felony you are charged with and the potential penalties for a conviction in a federal drug crime prosecution will depend, in part, on the schedule of the controlled substance involved. Examples of potential penalties for a federal drug conviction include:
- A minimum five-year mandatory and maximum 40-year prison sentence if convicted of manufacturing or distributing any of the following:
- 5 grams or more of methamphetamine
- 28 grams or more of crack
- 40 grams or more of fentanyl
- 100 grams or more of heroin
- 500 grams or more of cocaine
- A mandatory ten-year sentence with a maximum sentence of life in prison for a conviction involving the manufacture or distribution of any of the following:
State of Florida Drug Crime Prosecutions
Modeled after the CSA, the State of Florida also classifies controlled dangerous substances (CDS) into five different schedules based on their medical value and/or likelihood of abuse. Unlike federal law enforcement agencies, Florida law enforcement agencies frequently make arrests for possession as well as for manufacturing or trafficking drugs. Whether you are charged with possession or trafficking will significantly impact the penalties you face if convicted, as will the schedule and quantity of the drug involved. For example:
- Trafficking Heroin. A conviction for trafficking heroin subjects you to a 3–25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.
- Trafficking Cocaine. A conviction for trafficking cocaine subjects you to a 3–15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.
- Trafficking Oxycodone. A conviction for trafficking oxycodone subjects you to a 3–25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.
- Trafficking Methamphetamine. A conviction for trafficking methamphetamine subjects you to a 3–15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.
- Trafficking Cannabis. A conviction for trafficking cannabis subjects you to a 3–15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.
- First-degree felony possession. A conviction for possession of more than 10 grams of specific Schedule I drugs – up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Second-degree felony possession. This applies to certain Schedule I and II controlled substances – up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-degree felony possession. Specific Schedule I or Schedule II drugs or any Schedule III or Schedule IV drug – up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000
- Misdemeanor possession. This applies to specific Schedule V drugs or 20 grams or less of marijuana – up to a year in prison and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
At both the federal and state level, aggravating factors can increase the potential penalties you face if convicted. Aggravating factors include things such as:
- A previous conviction for a drug-related offense
- A significant criminal history
- The presence of a weapon during the commission of the crime
- Injury or death resulting from the crime
- Selling/trafficking in certain protected places (schools, parks, public housing) or to protected people (minors, for example).
Get Help from an Experienced Florida Drug Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a drug crime in Florida, you need an experienced drug defense lawyer on your side as soon as possible. You have important Constitutional rights that must be protected to preserve the ability to devise a successful defense. When your future and your freedom are at stake, you need a drug defense lawyer who has what it takes to defend you in a state or federal prosecution.
At Haas Law, our experience and resources are what make the difference when defending clients charged with a state or federal drug crime. As a former federal prosecutor, attorney David Haas has an insider’s understanding of how federal prosecutors make decisions about bumping cases up to federal court and how they prosecute cases once they are filed at the federal level. The sooner you contact our office, the sooner we can begin protecting and defending you.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.