Trafficking in GHB in Florida
GHB is pharmaceutical abbreviation for Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid.
Florida imposes mandatory minimum prison sentences and fines on people convicted of Trafficking in GHB based upon the weight of the mixture containing GHB.
Because of these serious consequences, it is important to know the:
Definition of Trafficking in GHB
Under Florida Statute 893.135(1)(h)(1), the crime of Trafficking in GHB is committed when a person:
- Knowingly possesses, sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or transports;
- 1 kilogram or more of any mixture containing GHB
GHB Trafficking Quantities
If a person is caught trafficking in GHB, the minimum penalties they face are determined by the following GHB trafficking quantity ranges:
- 1 to 4 kilograms of GHB;
- 3 years prison / $50,000 fine
- 5 to 9 kilograms of GHB;
- 7 years prison / $100,000 fine
- 10 kilograms or more of GHB;
- 15 years prison / $250,000 fine
The trafficking weight is determined by how much the GHB mixture weighs, not by the amount of pure GHB in the mixture.
As a result, a person could have a mixture that contain less than 1 kilogram of GHB, but because the mixture weighs more than 1 kilogram, the person would be guilty of Trafficking in GHB instead of simple Possession of GHB.
Penalties for Trafficking in GHB
The crime of Trafficking in GHB is classified as a First Degree Felony and, depending on the amount of GHB, is assigned either a Level 8 or a Level 9 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.
Under Florida law, unless the State Attorney agrees to waive the mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, the minimum sentences depends on whether you are convicted of:
- Trafficking in 1 to 4 kilograms of GHB
- Trafficking in 5 to 9 kilograms of GHB
- Trafficking in 10 kilograms or more of GHB
Trafficking in 1 to 4 kilograms of GHB
If convicted of Trafficking in 1 kilogram or more, but less than 5 kilograms, of GHB, a judge can impose a maximum sentence of thirty (30) years in prison, but is required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Trafficking in 5 to 9 kilograms of GHB
If convicted of Trafficking in 5 kilograms or more, but less than 10 kilograms, of GHB, a judge can impose a maximum sentence of thirty (30) years in prison, but is required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Trafficking in 10 kilograms or more of GHB
If convicted of Trafficking in 10 kilograms or more of GHB, a judge can impose a maximum sentence of thirty (30) years in prison, but is required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Driver's License Suspension
Pursuant to Florida Statute 322.055, a person convicted of Trafficking in GHB will have their driver’s license or driving privilege revoked for one year by the Florida DHSMV.
Professional License Suspension
Pursuant to Florida Statute 893.11, a person convicted of Trafficking in GHB will be subject to the emergency suspension of any Professional License issued by the State of Florida that authorizes the practicing of a profession or trade.
Defenses to Trafficking in GHB
Entrapment occurs when an undercover law enforcement officer or confidential informant induces a person to commit a criminal offense that the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit. If it can be shown you were entrapped, the court can dismiss the charges against you.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Often, law enforcement exceed the scope of their authority and require people to submit to a vehicle, home, or body search when they otherwise would not be required to; coerce people into agreeing to a search; arrest people without probable cause; or obtain search warrants in bad faith.
If any of these can be proven through the filing of a Motion to Suppress, the courts will suppress the resulting evidence as having been illegally obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States; which can lead to an outright dismissal of the case.
The prosecutor can only prove you possessed GHB for the purposes of trafficking in one of two ways:
To prove that you actually possessed GHB, the prosecutor has to show the GHB was found on your person. So if a container with GHB was found in your pocket, the prosecutor would have a case involving actual possession of GHB.
On the other hand, if the GHB was found in a place where more than one person had access, the prosecutor would have a much more difficult time proving you possessed the GHB because they would have to comply with the law of constructive possession.
The law of constructive possession requires the prosecutor to prove each of three distinct elements before you can be convicted:
- Knowledge of the GHB's presence;
- Knowledge the substance was GHB; and
- Dominion and control over the GHB.
Below are scenarios where it could be argued the prosecutor could not meet their burden of proving constructive possession.
Scenario 1: You were stopped while driving a friend's car and police found a bottle of GHB in the glove box, they would be unable to convict you of Trafficking in GHB unless they had some proof that you knew the GHB was there.
Scenario 2: You were stopped while driving a friend's car and police found a bottle of GHB on the floor-board, but in plain view. They would be unable to convict you of Trafficking in GHB unless they had some proof that you knew the bottle contained GHB.
Scenario 3: You were driving your car, had a friend with you, and your friend places a bottle of GHB in the passenger side storage pocket. The police then stop you, see your friend's bottle, and arrest both of you. They should be unable to convict you of Trafficking in GHB because even though you knew the GHB was there, your friend is the only person who exercised dominion and control over the container.
While not technically a defense, Substantial Assistance is the most commonly utilized method to avoid the mandatory minimum sentencing required for the crime of Trafficking in GHB.
The state attorney is authorized by statute to ask the court to reduce or suspend a sentence of any person who is convicted of drug trafficking when the person provides substantial assistance in the identification, arrest, or conviction of any other person engaged in trafficking in controlled substances.
This remedy is routinely offered pursuant to a "Substantial Assistance Contract" that requires you to "assist" law enforcement in arresting a specific amount of individuals involved in trafficking drugs within a limited period of time.
However, if you are unable to deliver the specified amount of people, you will be required to serve the applicable mandatory minimum prison sentence; regardless of how hard you tried to "assist" law enforcement.
If you can show you were validly prescribed the GHB, you may be able to have the charges dismissed if your charge is based solely on the amount of GHB in your possession. The valid prescription defense does not apply if you were selling or dealing in your personal supply of GHB though.
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby
The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.