Perhaps because it’s a peninsula surrounded by ocean, Florida attracts not only countless tourists, but also smugglers, including and especially those that deal in drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Many folks vacationing in the Sunshine State are not shy about pursuing their perception that drugs are readily and cheaply available in Florida.
Unfortunately, what usually is only a desire to use the drug and get high often leads to criminal charges that carry fines much more severe than one would think for what may be a one-time transgression, i.e., simple use of the drug. Especially since Florida prosecutors, fully aware of the situation in their state regarding illegal drugs and tourists, aggressively prosecute such cases.
Specifically, the problem lies in the language of the Florida Statute §893.135 that defines “Trafficking” in the context of drugs or controlled substances:
Any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of [a certain] amount of a controlled substance or illegal drug.
Thus, Florida law states that anyone knowingly in actual or constructive possession of a threshold amount of a controlled substance or illegal drug may be guilty of trafficking, which is obviously a much more severe offense, since it involves the act of selling drugs. Florida drug trafficking statues have explicit quantities of each substance for the charges to qualify. Thus, a tourist in Florida may purchase a certain quantity of marijuana and then, based upon the weight of the drugs, be charged with trafficking instead of possession. All Florida drug trafficking crimes are first-degree felonies and carry mandatory sentences, which significantly harshen the consequences for what may be mere possession.
Defendants charged with trafficking often are in the wrong place at the wrong time and may not even have knowledge of the trafficking, or even the presence of drugs. Some individuals charged with trafficking may have been in vicinity of the drugs only because they were buying a small quantity to possess for use. An experienced criminal defense attorney will challenge all of the aforementioned circumstances and help bring the truth to light to reduce a trafficking charge to mere drug possession.
If you are a Florida resident or a tourist that has been arrested for drug trafficking based upon evidence that suggests a mere possession charge or even less – dismissal of all charges, call Alan Fowler, an experienced Florida Key West criminal defense attorney, for a consultation at 305.912.2516.