At 411 Justice, our attorneys have a tremendous amount of experience defending drug possession and drug trafficking cases. In fact, our drug trafficking attorneys have never had a client sentenced to even 1 day in jail when we defended their case. We strongly believe that any drug possession or drug trafficking case can be won. That is how we approach every new case we accept.
Our drug possession and drug trafficking attorneys want to take on as many drug trafficking cases as they can for one simple reason: to win. Our criminal defense attorneys have developed a unique and truly successful approach to defending drug trafficking cases. One of the main reasons we have tremendous success in defending drug trafficking cases is that we work closely with a jury and trial consultant to conduct mock trials for our cases. We dedicate our time and effort to win each case not only for the client, but for our firm’s reputation as tough, aggressive drug trafficking defense attorneys.
Our firm charges a flat fee for all drug possession and drug trafficking cases. Our fees are very reasonable for a reason. We want to win as many cases as we can. The more cases we win, the more the prosecution is willing to negotiate with us in the future. This benefits our current and future clients.
DRUG CRIME OVERVIEW
Drug crimes cover a broad range of offenses involving controlled substances, from possession and sale to manufacture and distribution. These crimes involve violations of federal or state law, or both. Depending on the particular circumstances of a case, these offenses can result in a broad range of potential criminal and administrative consequences, including probation, prison, property forfeiture and participation in a court-ordered drug treatment program.
Though more severe charges typically result in harsher penalties, even less serious charges, such as possession of a small amount of a controlled substance, may have severe consequences, especially if prior convictions, firearms, activity near protected zones (e.g., schools and parks), or minors are involved.
Drug possession is charged when a person has a small quantity of an illegal or prescription drug on their person, in their vehicle, personal items, or home. The most common form of drug possession is possession of cannabis. This is the only drug possession crime that can be a misdemeanor (if the cannabis is less than 20 grams in weight.) Along with a charge for possession of cannabis, the police and prosecutor usually add a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia because of a baggy, pipe, roach clip, rolling papers, or any other item that can be used to carry, make, or smoke the cannabis.
Most possession of cannabis cases can be resolved without a conviction and without jail time. Our attorneys take advantage of the Misdemeanor Drug Court in Broward County to resolve most of our possession of cannabis cases by dismissal. The Drug Court allows our clients to get help with issues surrounding the use of marijuana. The Drug Court program allows for the case to be dismissed upon successful completion of the course, including: drug testing and counseling. Miami and Palm Beach counties will also work closely with first time possession of cannabis offenders to ensure that their cases are resolved without a conviction.
Every other drug possession charge is a felony. Possession of cannabis over 20 grams, cocaine, meth, prescription drugs such as oxycontin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, Vicodin, Percocet, Valium, Xanax will all be charged as a felony. The prosecutor’s office in Broward County has a policy of offering 18 months in prison for the possession of prescription pain killers. It does not matter that the defendant has no prior record and is a first time offender.
The first drug court was established in Miami, Florida, in 1989. First developed as a way to relieve increased felony caseloads and overcrowded jails and prisons, the drug court movement has gained tremendous momentum throughout the United States. In the decades since then, drug courts now operate, or are being planned, in all 50 states.
Recognizing that incarceration alone has not been an effective solution to breaking the cycle of drug abuse and crime, the drug court model combines criminal justice and medical treatment approaches. Together, it is believed, these methods can help individuals break their dependence on drugs and ultimately take back control of their lives.
While the specific programs and methods used by individual drug courts vary, the emphasis is cooperation by all parties–the court, prosecution, defendant and treatment providers–to rehabilitate individuals with substance abuse problems who have been charged with a drug crime. Drug court participants undergo long-term treatment (typically 12 months), counseling, frequent drug testing, and regular court appearances. Related social and educational services may also be part of the process. The progress of each participant is regularly monitored and evaluated, and on-going interaction with judges is a common feature.
While drug courts have tended to focus on low-level and first-time offenders, individuals with more severe substance abuse issues and criminal activity have increasingly come within the drug court’s efforts as well.
Our attorneys take advantage of the Drug Court in Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach counties to resolve first time offender drug charges. The Drug Court allows our clients to get help with issues surrounding their drug use. The Drug Court program allows for the case to be dismissed upon successful completion of the course, including: drug testing and intense counseling. We always recommend that our clients opt-in to the Drug Court to take advantage of the ultimate dismissal of their case.
Our attorneys know Broward County Drug Court Judge Beach personally and truly believe that she wants to help every defendant who enters her courtroom. She is patient and understanding and will always be tolerant of relapses and failed drug tests. She is truly a judge who cares.
DEFENSES TO A DRUG POSSESSION CHARGE
Defenses to a felony drug possession charge can range. Most drug possession cases stem from a traffic stop of a vehicle. The officer stops the vehicle for violating a traffic law and then approaches the vehicle. If the officer smells the odor of burnt cannabis, then the officer would have probable cause to search the vehicle. If the officer sees the drugs in plain view, then the officer can search the vehicle.
However, a police officer cannot stop your vehicle unless you commit a traffic infraction. If you were stopped for Failure to Maintain a Single Lane, Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device, No Lights, Expired Tag, Failure to Use Turn Signal, Roadblock, or you were in an accident, we will challenge the officer’s stop of your vehicle. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys win most of our drug possession cases in Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach counties this way.
THE 4th AMENDMENT AND HOW IT RELATES TO DRUG CRIMES
The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. In drug cases, the legality of how evidence was obtained is frequently challenged. If the government violated the Constitution, the evidence cannot be used. Without the evidence to prove the charges, the State may have to dismiss its case.
Fourth Amendment protections apply to situations where persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as their home or personal communications, for instance. However, whether the expectation is “reasonable” is the key to whether it is protected by the Constitution. Reasonableness is context-specific. The court looks at an individual’s intention to keep something private and whether the expectation is one that society is willing to recognize as reasonable.
The government can intrude on such a zone of privacy only if the search or seizure is reasonable. Generally, a reasonable search or seizure is one supported by a warrant. The warrant itself has to be valid: It must be issued by a neutral judicial official, supported by probable cause and describe specifically the person or thing to be searched or seized. To establish “probable cause,” the law enforcement officer has to present facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime is being, or has been, committed.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE WARRANT REQUIREMENT
The Supreme Court has recognized a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement. A warrantless search or seizure is still reasonable if there is probable cause and certain circumstances exist that make getting a warrant impractical or impossible.
These exceptions include:
- Search incident to arrest: a search of a person after a lawful arrest
- Consent: when an individual voluntarily waives Fourth Amendment rights
- Plain view: when an officer sees drugs or contraband with their own eyes
- Automobile exception: an officer can search a vehicle if there is probable cause to believe it contains drugs (only if vehicle is capable of leaving)
- Exigent circumstances: when there is no opportunity to obtain a warrant due to an emergency situation
Some clients are charged with “constructive possession” of the drug. This means that the drug was not found on their person, rather, it was in their vicinity. Often times, the passengers and driver in a car will be charged with constructive possession of a drug if the officer searches the vehicle and finds the drugs on the floorboard, in the center console, or in the door compartment. It does not matter if someone tells the officer that the drugs belong to them. All passengers in the vehicle will be charged.
It is not unheard of for 4 passengers in a vehicle to be charged with possession of the same drug. These cases are easy to defend. Although the law states that you can be charged with constructive possession if the drug is in your vicinity, in reality, most juries will do the right thing. It is usually clear which person in the vehicle the drug belonged to. Moreover, the lack of fingerprints on the drug container will aid our defense that our client did not touch the drug packaging and therefore should be found not guilty. If we get involved early enough, we ask out clients to take a drug test so that we can prove that our client never consumed the drug in question.
Florida is prime breeding ground for drug smuggling and trafficking – a fact that law enforcement is well aware of. Police heavily investigate and pursue defendants for drug trafficking to reduce the criminal activity brought into the state and into the country.
Our law firm provides thorough criminal defense representation to clients facing drug charges involving heroin, cocaine, marijuana (or Cannabis plants), methamphetamines (meth) and other illegal substances. Our drug trafficking practice includes defense against the following and additional charges:
- Trafficking in Cocaine
- Trafficking in Marijuana (Cannabis)
- Trafficking in Ecstacy
- Trafficking Oxycontin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and other prescription drugs
- Conspiracy to traffic in illegal drugs
- Transportation of illegal narcotics
The laws involving drug trafficking are strict and severe. Drug trafficking is a first degree felony, which can result in a minimum mandatory sentence ranging from 3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine to 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, depending on the drug and the amount of illegal drugs being trafficked in.
DRUG TRAFFICKING PENALTIES
The following sentences are the minimum mandatory sentences for trafficking in Cannabis.
Mandatory Minimum Sentence
In excess of 25 but less than 2,000 pounds or 300 or more cannabis plants
3 Years + $25,000 fine
2,000 pounds but less than 10,000 pounds or is 2,000 or more cannabis plants
7 Years + $50,000 fine
10,000 pounds or more or is 10,000 or more cannabis plants
15 years + $200,000 fine
The following sentences are the minimum mandatory sentences for trafficking in cocaine.