Trafficking in Methamphetamine in Florida
Popularized by the TV series Breaking Bad, methamphetamine (known by the street names of Crystal Meth or Crank) is a highly addictive narcotic that is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance in Florida.
Florida imposes mandatory minimum prison sentences and fines on people convicted of Trafficking in Methamphetamine, which are determined by the weight of the mixture containing Methamphetamine.
Because of these serious consequences, it is important to know the:
- Definition of Trafficking in Methamphetamine and
- Penalties for Trafficking in Methamphetamine and
- Defenses to Trafficking in Methamphetamine.
Definition of Trafficking in Methamphetamine
Under Florida Statute 893.135(1)(f)(1), the crime of Trafficking in Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth or Meth) is committed when a person:
- Knowingly possesses, sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or transports;
- 14 grams or more of any mixture containing Methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine Trafficking Thresholds
If a person is caught trafficking in Methamphetamine, the minimum penalties they face are determined by the following Methamphetamine trafficking thresholds:
- 14 to 28 grams of Methamphetamine;
- 3 years prison / $50,000 fine
- 28 to 200 grams of Methamphetamine;
- 7 years prison / $100,000 fine
- 200 grams or more of Methamphetamine;
- 15 years prison / $250,000 fine
The trafficking weight is determined by how much the methamphetamine mixture weighs, not by the percentage of pure methamphetamine in the mixture.
Penalties for Trafficking in Methamphetamine
The crime of Trafficking in Methamphetamine is classified as a First Degree Felony and, depending on the amount of Methamphetamine, is assigned either a Level 8 or 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 14 to 28 grams of Methamphetamine
- Trafficking in 28 to 200 grams of Methamphetamine
- Trafficking in 200 grams or more of Methamphetamine
Trafficking in 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams, of Methamphetamine
If convicted of Trafficking in 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams, of Methamphetamine, 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 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams, of Methamphetamine
If convicted of Trafficking in 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams, of Methamphetamine, 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 200 grams or more of Methamphetamine
If convicted of Trafficking in 200 grams or more of Methamphetamine, 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 Methamphetamine 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 Methamphetamine 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 Methamphetamine
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 Methamphetamine for the purposes of trafficking in one of two ways:
To prove that you actually possessed Methamphetamine, the prosecutor has to show the Methamphetamine was found on your person. So if the Methamphetamine was found in your pocket, the prosecutor would have a case involving actual possession of Methamphetamine.
On the other hand, if the methamphetamine 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 methamphetamine 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 methamphetamine's presence;
- Knowledge the substance was methamphetamine; and
- Dominion and control over the methamphetamine.
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 bag of methamphetamine in the glove box, they would be unable to convict you of Trafficking in Methamphetamine unless they had some proof that you knew the bag of methamphetamine was there.
Scenario 2: You were stopped while driving a friend's car and police found a bag of methamphetamine on the floor-board, but in plain view. They would be unable to convict you of Trafficking in Methamphetamine unless they had some proof that you knew the bag contained methamphetamine.
Scenario 3: You were driving your car, had a friend with you, and your friend places a container of Methamphetamine in the passenger side storage pocket. The police then stop you, see your friend's container, and arrest both of you. They should be unable to convict you of Trafficking in Methamphetamine because even though you knew the methamphetamine was there, your friend is the only person who had 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 Methamphetamine.
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.
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby
If you have been charged or arrested with the crime of Trafficking in Methamphetamine in Central Florida or the greater Orlando area, please contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.
The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.