The nation’s criminal justice system has many moving parts that can sometimes be confusing and difficult to follow, especially when it comes to drug crime laws. For example, many people think of drug distribution and drug trafficking as interchangeable terms. However, there are a few very crucial distinctions between the two. If you’re facing a drug charge, it’s crucial that you understand what you’re up against.
In simple terms, a drug trafficking charge involves the drug’s weight and quantity, while a drug distribution charge involves the movement of the drugs. Likewise, drug distribution tends to carry less severe consequences than drug trafficking. Here’s what you need to know about how the state of Florida defines and penalizes each charge.
Understanding the Difference between Drug Distribution and Drug Trafficking
Florida is one of the strictest states in the country when it comes to penalizing individuals for using, possessing, or supplying illegal substances. When discussing laws related to distributing and trafficking, however, there’s often confusion. Understanding the difference is not only significant in terms of what prosecutors need to prove to uphold a conviction, but it’s also vital when it comes to the defense strategies you’ll implement. The discrepancies are as follows:
- Drug distribution: An accusation for distributing drugs is contingent on transferring, selling, importing, or moving a controlled substance like heroin, meth or cocaine. Note that to be charged with drug distribution, you don’t have to be caught in the act. Simply having a large amount of cash in addition to a large quantity of illegal drugs may lead to a drug distribution charge.
- Drug trafficking: On the other hand, a charge for trafficking drugs doesn’t necessarily mean the drugs are in transit. The critical distinction when it comes to a drug trafficking charge is the weight and quantity of the drugs. Depending on the drug, if the weight or quantity exceeds a certain limit, then a drug trafficking charge can apply.
There are a few notable exceptions to the charges listed above. A case could change if a defendant had a drug for personal use and not for drug distribution. Another potential exception that may help a drug case is if there was entrapment by law enforcement. Finally, an unlawful search & seizure is against the fourth amendment, which may be able to help your case considerably.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Distribution and Drug Trafficking in Florida?
It’s important to note that the penalties for drug distribution and trafficking entirely depend on the quantity and type of drug involved. Here’s what you need to know:
- Drug distribution: A charge for this crime often falls under drug possession with intent to distribute. Drug distribution, if it’s prosecuted as possession with an intent to sell, is a third-degree felony that may land you up to five years in prison and require a fine of up to $5,000. A second-degree felony conviction may result in imprisonment for up to 15 years and a fine up to $10,000.
- Drug trafficking: The severity of the penalties you may face if convicted of this offense at the state level depends on the substance you’re accused of trafficking and the amount of the substance involved. Trafficking of any illegal substance carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence that can range from three to 25 years. Fines can range from $50,000 to $500,000.
Seeking a reduction in required sentencing is only allowed if the defendant is under 21 years of age or if they provide what’s called “substantial assistance,” otherwise known as “snitching.”
Contact an Experienced Drug Crime Lawyer in West Palm Beach
Regardless of their dissimilarities, both possession of drugs with intent to sell and drug trafficking can lead to fines, jail time, and other collateral consequences. Therefore, it’s essential to retain a Florida trafficking and drug crimes defense attorney to represent your interests. For legal assistance, look no further than The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel.
Attorney Brian Gabriel has served the community of West Palm Beach for more than 30 years as a criminal defense attorney. He understands the complexities often involved in these cases and can help protect your reputation and future. After an arrest for any kind of drug crime, you can be assured that you’re in good hands and that attorney Brian Gabriel will fight for your rights. Call (561) 622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.