SARASOTA POSSESSION OF COCAINE ATTORNEY
In the State of Florida, it is a third-degree felony to possess any amount of cocaine under 28 grams. The maximum penalty for possession of cocaine under 28 grams is up to five years in prison. The actual punishment that the state will seek will largely depend on the facts of the case, the amount of cocaine found, and the defendant’s criminal history.
What are the mandatory minimums for Trafficking in Cocaine?
Possession of over 28 grams of cocaine is charged as “Trafficking in Cocaine”.
Under 28 grams – no mandatory minimum.
28 grams to 200 grams - minimum mandatory sentence of 3 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
200 grams to 400 grams - minimum mandatory sentence of 7 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
400 grams to 150 kilograms - minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
*If the cocaine is cut with another agent, and is only, for instance, 10% pure cocaine, it doesn’t matter. The prosecutor will consider the total weight of the substance--the pure cocaine plus the cutting agent and all other fillers--to determine the total weight for trafficking purposes.
How can I get out of the mandatory minimum?
One way of getting out from underneath the mandatory minimum prison sentence for a trafficking in cocaine charge is to convince the prosecutor to amend the charge to a lesser offense that does not require a mandatory prison term. For instance, a possession of cocaine with intent to sell, although still a serious charge, does not have a mandatory minimum prison term associated with it.
How to fight a possession of cocaine case
A good defense attorney will expose any possible weaknesses in the state’s case to the defendant’s advantage. This could result in charges being completely dropped. In particularly difficult cases, it may be best for the attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor to get the best deal possible, which may mean getting rid of all jail.
Oftentimes the best deal possible will depend on the skill of the defense attorney in evaluating the case for weaknesses and possible defenses and then convincing the prosecutor to agree to a deal that is favorable to you.
In Drug Possession Cases, Cops Do Not Always Follow The Law
Law enforcement is supposed to play by the rules, they are supposed to do things legally and constitutionally. That doesn’t always happen, especially in drug related cases.
Criminal cases involving drug possession are sometimes filled with potential issues—things that law enforcement did wrong—such as, illegal stops and detentions, illegal searches and seizures, and coerced statements and admissions.
Sometimes when one of these issues is found, it can result in the entire case being thrown out because important evidence that the state would need to prove the case is suppressed and the case can no longer be proven.
Defenses to Possession of Cocaine
Constructive possession is often a big issue in drug possession cases. Many people charged with possession of drugs have no idea about constructive possession and the cop investigating your case is under no obligation to tell you if this issue exists.
Basically, constructive possession is when a controlled substance (illegal drug or substance) is found somewhere other than on the defendant’s person and there are multiple people present (typically in a car or house). Law enforcement will oftentimes arrest everyone present. However, and this is very important, not everyone charged and arrested can later be successfully prosecuted.
Constructive Possession Cases can be bad for prosecutors.
There are two additional things that a prosecutor needs to be able to prove in order to successfully prosecute a constructive possession case:
(1) That the person had dominion and control over the contraband, and
(2) that the person had knowledge it was there.
It is not enough that the person was simply close to the drugs.
Being close in proximity to the drugs is not enough. There need to be specific facts to indicate that the person knew the drugs were there (assuming they were not in plain view) and had the ability to control them (essentially that the drugs were theirs to do what they please with).
Oftentimes in constructive possession cases, absent an admission or confession of some sort, the state does not have ample evidence to successfully convict the person.
These are extremely fact specific cases (they often turn on the unique facts in your case). This is one reason why it is important to have a criminal defense lawyer evaluate your case to determine whether there is a constructive possession issue present.
Illegal search and seizure
The law on what constitutes an illegal search and seizure is vast and complicated and only an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to tell if you, in fact, were illegally searched or detained.
Some issues commonly seen are:
Bad vehicular stops
Such as when a car is stopped for a wrong reason or for a made-up reason.
These are very common and involve a person stopped and detained when law enforcement does not have the necessary reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop and detain the person.
When an individual’s person, belongings, vehicle, and/or home is searched illegally and without the necessary reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
It takes a skilled criminal defense attorney who is up on the current state of the law to determine whether you were, given the specific facts of your case, illegally detained and searched.
Entrapment occurs when the police (or people working with the police) induce or encourage a person to commit a crime when the person was not otherwise predisposed to commit the crime in the first place.
A person prosecuted for a crime will be acquitted (found not guilty) if the person proves that his or her criminal conduct occurred as a result of government entrapment.
There are many other defenses available
Whether a defense is available to you will often turn on the unique facts of your specific case. Please contact us and we will take the time to evaluate your case and determine what possible defenses are available.