Trafficking Cannabis in Florida | Attorney’s Guide
Under Section 893.135, Florida Statutes, Trafficking in Cannabis is committed in Florida when you sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, knowingly possess, or bring into the state more than 25 pounds of cannabis or 300 or more cannabis plants.
Penalties for Trafficking in Cannabis in Florida
Trafficking in Cannabis is a first-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 30 years of prison or probation. The charge also carries a mandatory minimum sentence, the length of which depends on how much cannabis was trafficked.
Cannabis (Marijuana) Trafficking Minimum Mandatory Penalties Chart
||Minimum Mandatory Penalties
|At least 25 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds OR
At least 300 plants but less than 2,000 plants:
|3 years prison; $25,000 fine
|At least 2,000 pounds but less than 10,000 pounds OR
At least 2,000 plants but less than 10,000 plants:
|7 years prison; $50,000
|At least 10,000 pounds or 10,000 plants:
||15 years, $200,000
Expanded Defenses for Trafficking in Cannabis in Florida
When facing a charge of trafficking in cannabis in Florida, it’s crucial to understand the potential defenses that can be used to fight the charge. The defenses can be complex and require a deep understanding of Florida law and the specifics of your case. Here are some potential defenses:
Actual or Constructive Possession
If your charge is based on possession of a controlled substance, the State must show either actual possession or constructive possession. Actual possession is when the controlled substance is on your person (such as in your hand or in your pockets) or within your ready reach and control. Constructive possession is when the controlled substance is located somewhere you have control over and you are aware that the controlled substance is within your presence. If the State fails to prove either type of possession, then you cannot be found guilty of Trafficking in Cannabis based on possession.
Proving Amount of Controlled Substance
Part of the State’s burden in a trafficking case is proving the amount of the controlled substance beyond a reasonable doubt. The State doesn’t have to prove an exact figure, but it does have to show that there was enough of the controlled substance to support a trafficking charge. Likewise, if the State seeks a higher mandatory minimum sentence, then it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the amount of the controlled substance met the threshold for that sentence.
Lack of Knowledge
Asserting that you were unaware of the illicit nature of the substance possessed is an affirmative defense. This can be particularly relevant in cases where the cannabis was found in a shared space, such as a shared vehicle or residence. This defense asserts that you did not know that the substance you possessed was illegal, which can be a valid defense if it can be proven.
This defense can be used if you were pushed into committing the crime as part of a sting operation or by a confidential informant. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officers induce a person to commit a crime that they would not have been likely to commit on their own. If you can prove that you were entrapped, this can be a powerful defense.
Challenging the Evidence
One of the most common defenses of drug trafficking charges is to challenge the evidence provided by the state. The state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and any doubts about the evidence can work in your favor. This can involve questioning the reliability of the testing methods used to identify the substance, the credibility of witnesses, or the legality of the search that led to the discovery of the cannabis.
Motion to Suppress
Moving to throw out evidence that was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. This can include evidence that was obtained through an illegal search, coerced statements, or other violations of your rights. If the motion is successful, the suppressed evidence cannot be used against you in court.
Motion to Dismiss
Show that there is no evidence supporting the charge. This can be a powerful defense if the state’s evidence is weak or if there are significant issues with the way the evidence was collected or presented.
Show that you have an alibi. If you can prove that you were somewhere else at the time the alleged crime was committed, this can be a powerful defense. This typically involves presenting evidence such as surveillance footage, witness statements, or other proof of your whereabouts at the time of the alleged crime.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the consequences of a cannabis trafficking conviction on future employment?
A conviction for cannabis trafficking can have serious implications for future employment. Many employers conduct background checks, and a felony conviction can make it more difficult to secure a job. Certain professions, such as law, medicine, and teaching, may bar individuals with felony convictions from licensure.
2. Can a cannabis trafficking charge affect my immigration status?
Yes, a cannabis trafficking charge can have serious implications for your immigration status. Convictions for drug-related offenses, especially trafficking, can lead to deportation, denial of naturalization, and exclusion from admission to the U.S.
3. Can a cannabis trafficking conviction be expunged from my record?
Expungement laws vary by state, but in many cases, a felony conviction for cannabis trafficking may not be eligible for expungement. However, it’s always best to consult with an attorney to understand your options.
4. What is the impact of a cannabis trafficking charge on student financial aid eligibility?
A conviction for a drug offense, such as cannabis trafficking, can affect your eligibility for federal student aid. Under federal law, certain drug convictions can result in a temporary or permanent ban on receiving financial aid.
5. Can property be seized in a cannabis trafficking case?
Yes, under Florida’s contraband forfeiture law, property associated with the criminal activity, such as vehicles used to transport the cannabis or property purchased with proceeds from the trafficking, can be seized by law enforcement.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
If you’ve been taken into custody for trafficking in cannabis or any other controlled substances or other controlled substances in Orlando, Orange County, Seminole County, Brevard County, Lake County, Volusia County, and Osceola County, Florida. Criminal charges for trafficking are severe and a well-prepared defense can help you avoid or significantly reduce the penalties you could face. Contact Leppard Law: Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys, you can reach us via phone or text at 407-476-4111.