Possession of drugs with intent to distribute is a serious criminal offense in Hillsborough County. It is a third degree felony that could result in a prison sentence for up to five years and a fine up to $5,000. If the amount of drugs you have in your possession exceeds a certain weight, police could charge you with drug trafficking. A conviction under the Florida drug trafficking statute is a first degree felony with a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and fines up to $50,000.
The harsh punishment associated with a drug trafficking conviction reflects the purpose behind the law. All drug offenses are taken seriously by law enforcement and prosecutors, but drug trafficking investigations are pursued with even more intensity in order to stem the flow of large amounts of drugs into the state.
A drug trafficking charge requires prosecutors to prove that the accused individual knowingly took part in, and was aware of, the illegal activities designed to bring the drugs designated in the statute into Florida. The primary factor that will cause drug charges to be increased to drug trafficking is the weight of the drugs that a person has in his or her possession.
For example, possession of a large quantity of marijuana might be prosecuted as drug possession or possession with intent to distribute. If the amount of marijuana is 25 pounds or more, the person may be charged with drug trafficking. The penalty, if the weight of the marijuana is between 25 pounds and 2,000 pounds, is a minimum of three years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.
Drug charges are complicated cases that involve the interplay of many state laws. Other issues such as search and seizure may also play a role in determining how a case is presented by prosecutors and defended. This post is an overview of this area of the law that is not intended as legal advice. Someone charged with state or federal drug crimes should consult with a criminal defense attorney.