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Florida Drug Distribution Laws

Florida prohibits the distribution and sale of controlled substances listed by state laws. The state might prosecute an individual who possesses a controlled substance with an intent to sell or distribute it. Florida laws also prohibit drug trafficking activities to bring relatively large amounts of controlled substances into the state. The following chart provides an overview of Florida drug trafficking crimes:

Code Sections
Proving Drug Trafficking

To prove the offense, a prosecutor must show that the defendant "knowingly" participated in drug trafficking activities. In particular, the prosecutor must show that the defendant had an awareness of the activities to bring drugs into the state of Florida or an intent to engage in drug trafficking.

In addition, the prosecutor must show that the seized materials are controlled substances as defined by Florida state laws. This process generally requires chemical analysis by a crime lab technician or another expert.

A prosecutor can also pursue a variety of criminal charges related to the possession of a controlled substance with an intent to sell. Drug distribution not prosecuted as trafficking generally involves controlled substances in smaller amounts. The specific offense depends on the type of drug, the amount of the drug, and the defendant's activities. Possession with an intent to sell may lead to a misdemeanor charge for a minor offense, but can also result in felony charges that include significant legal consequences.

Defenses to Drug Distribution Charges
  • Defendant possessed the controlled substance for personal use and not for distribution or sale
  • Entrapment set up by police
  • Unlawful search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment
Penalties and Sentences

Drug trafficking prosecuted as a first degree felony can result in a range of sentences. Florida law sets a maximum term of thirty years for a first degree felony. However, state laws also establish specific terms of imprisonment that depend on the type of drug and the quantity of the drug involved in the trafficking activities. Some trafficking offenses include mandatory minimum sentences and the punishment escalates with a greater quantity of controlled substances.

Trafficking marijuana in an amount between 25 pounds and 2,000 pounds requires a minimum sentence of imprisonment for three years and a fine of $25,000. If the offense involves between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds, the minimum term of imprisonment increases to seven years and a fine of $50,000. Though state laws set minimum sentences, the prosecutor may be able to pursue sentences greater than the minimum, if permitted to do so by the Florida Statutes.

For drug distribution activities prosecuted as possession with an intent to sell, a third degree felony, the term of imprisonment can last for up to five years and require a fine up to the amount of $5,000. A second degree felony conviction may result in a term of imprisonment for up to fifteen years and a fine in an amount up to $10,000.

Florida state laws allow enhanced sentencing for defendants who have prior felony convictions. State law refers to these defendants as "career criminals" and "habitual felony offenders." If the defendant qualifies for an enhanced sentence, a conviction will likely lead to an increase in the term of imprisonment.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Florida's drug distribution laws carry very harsh potential sentences. This means that you'll want the best help you can find to organize your defense. A local attorney can schedule a free initial case review to discuss your defense options if you've been charged with drug distribution.

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