Trafficking in Cocaine
Crimes for trafficking cocaine can be prosecuted under state law or federal law. At the state level, crimes for trafficking in cocaine are charged under Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(b), Fla. Stat.
The main difference between criminal charges for the simple possession of cocaine and trafficking in cocaine is the amount of cocaine possessed. If you are accused of possessing cocaine or a mixture containing cocaine that weighted 28 grams or more than you can be charged with trafficking in cocaine.
Crimes for the sale of cocaine typically involve the transfer or delivery of cocaine to another person in exchange for money or something of value or a promise of money or something of value.
When the crime involves the manufacture of cocaine, the prosecutor must show proof of the production, preparation, propagation, compounding, cultivating, growing, conversion, or processing of cocaine, either directly or indirectly, by extraction from substances of natural origin and includes any packaging of the substance or labeling or relabeling of its container.
Crimes for delivery of cocaine under Florida Statute § 893.02(6) mean the actual, constructive, or attempted transfer from one person to another of cocaine, whether or not there is an agency relationship.
In Hillsborough County, these felony offenses are prosecuted at the courthouse for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in downtown Tampa, FL, at 800 East Twiggs Street.
Attorney for Trafficking in Cocaine in Tampa, FL
The criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm fight drug trafficking crimes being prosecuted in Hillsborough County, FL, and the surrounding counties throughout the greater Tampa Bay area.
We fight felony drug cases in Hillsborough County, Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, and Polk County, FL.
Our criminal defense attorneys can represent you are every stage of the case from the first appearance, the Nebbia bond hearing, during the pre-trial conference, during motions hearings, and at trial. Call us to discuss your case and defenses that can be used to fight the charges aggressively.
Contact us to discuss your case and defenses that can be used to fight the charges aggressively.
Call (813) 250-0500 today.
Elements of Cocaine Trafficking in Florida
To prove the crime of Trafficking in Cocaine, the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The Defendant knowingly possessed, sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, or brought into Florida a certain substance;
- The substance was cocaine or a mixture containing cocaine.
- The cocaine or mixture containing cocaine weighed 28 grams or more.
When it is not clear that the defendant knew that the substance possessed was cocaine, but did know of the crimes illicit nature, then the jury can be instructed on the following elements:
- The defendant intended to sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, bring into Florida, or possess an enumerated controlled substance in § 893.135(1), Fla. Stat.)
- The defendant actually sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, brought into Florida, or possessed cocaine or a mixture containing cocaine.
The jury instructions for trafficking in cocaine are found in Chapter 25.10. The standard jury instructions provide an easy way for the jury to understand the crimes and defenses.
As explained in the jury instructions for cocaine trafficking, certain drugs and chemical substances are by law known as “controlled substances.” Under Florida law, cocaine or any mixture containing cocaine is a controlled substance.
Enhanced Penalties for Trafficking in Cocaine
Any charge of “Trafficking in Cocaine” is a first-degree felony punishable by up to thirty (30) years in Florida State Prison. Florida law also provides for certain minimum mandatory sentences depending on the amount of cocaine allegedly involved in the trafficking incident.
The penalties can be enhanced depending on the amount of cocaine possessed as explained in Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(b)1.–2., including:
- If the cocaine or mixture containing cocaine weighed 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams then the offense carries a three (3) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $50,000.00 fine;
- If the cocaine or mixture containing cocaine weighed 200 grams or more but less than 400 grams then the offense carries a seven (7) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $100,000.00 fine; or
- If the cocaine or mixture containing cocaine weighed 400 grams or more but less than 150 kilograms then the offense carries a fifteen (15) year minimum mandatory sentence and a $250,000.00 fine.
If the cocaine or mixture containing cocaine weighed 150 kilograms or more then the offense can be charged as a first degree felony punishable by life imprisonment which is ineligible for any form of discretionary early release except pardon or executive clemency or conditional medical release under s. 947.149.
Capital Felony of Trafficking in Cocaine
Additionally, if a person commits the capital felony of trafficking in cocaine, punishable as provided in ss. 775.082 and 921.142, then the person can also be sentenced to pay the maximum fine provided under subparagraph 1 if a person possessed more than 150 kilograms of cocaine and if the court determines that, in addition to committing any act specified in this paragraph:
- The person intentionally killed an individual or counseled, commanded, induced, procured, or caused the intentional killing of an individual and such killing was the result; or
- The person’s conduct in committing that act led to a natural, though not inevitable, lethal result.
If a person who knowingly brings into the State of Florida 300 kilograms or more of cocaine and knows that the probable result of such importation would be the death of any person, then the prosecutor can charge the defendant with the crime of capital importation of cocaine.
The crime is charged as a capital felony punishable as provided in ss. 775.082 and 921.142, which is subject to the maximum fine provided under subparagraph 1.
Affirmative Defense Because of a Lack of Knowledge of the Illicit Nature
Some defenses for trafficking in cocaine involve a lack of knowledge of the illicit nature of the substance as explained in Florida Statute § 893.101(2) and (3), Fla. Stat.
The standard jury instructions on this affirmative defense provide that the lack of knowledge of the illicit nature of a controlled substance is a defense to Trafficking in Cocaine.
The jury is permitted to infer that the defendant was aware of the illicit nature of the controlled substance if the jury finds that the defendant knew of the presence of the substance and exercised control or ownership over the substance.
The jury is also told that they are permitted to infer that a person who sells a controlled substance knows of its illicit nature.
The standard jury instructions also provide that if the jury is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knew of the illicit nature of the controlled substance, and all of the elements of the charge have been proved, then the jury should find the defendant guilty of Trafficking in Cocaine.
On the other hand, the jury is instructed that if it has a reasonable doubt on the question of whether the defendant knew of the illicit nature of the controlled substance, then the jury should find the defendant “not guilty” of Trafficking in Cocaine.
Finding a Lawyer for Cocaine Trafficking in Hillsborough County, FL
The criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm also represent clients on related offenses including the sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, bringing into this state, or actual or constructive possession of cocaine.
Our drug crime attorneys can represent you at every stage of the case from the first appearance in court, the Nebbia bond hearing, the pre-trial conference, during pre-trial hearings to suppress evidence or dismiss the charges.
If the charges are not resolved on a pre-trial basis, the attorneys at Sammis Law Firm can fight your case aggressively at trial for the not guilty verdict.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 28, 2020.