Fort Lauderdale Drug Trafficking Attorney
Effective Defense for Drug Trafficking Charges
If you or a loved one is facing drug trafficking charges, our Fort Lauderdale lawyers at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. are here to help with your case. Backed by nearly 50 years of combined experience, including time spent as former prosecutors, we know how to develop innovative and aggressive strategies to fight drug trafficking charges in Fort Lauderdale and throughout the state of Florida. We are meticulous in our investigation of drug trafficking cases, and we know that defenses can be raised to counter the government's allegations. Our Fort Lauderdale drug trafficking lawyers will thoroughly investigate your matter and seek to obtain an optimal result on your behalf.
What is Drug Trafficking?
Drug trafficking is a serious criminal offense involving the illicit distribution, transportation, or sale of controlled substances, typically in large quantities. Drug trafficking is a state crime when the offense occurs within Florida, and a federal crime when it crosses state lines or country borders.
This crime is a threat to public safety and is heavily prosecuted by law enforcement agencies at both the state and federal levels. Drug trafficking activities can span a wide range of substances, from illegal narcotics like cocaine and heroin to prescription drugs when obtained and distributed unlawfully.
What's the Difference Between Possession and Trafficking?
In Florida, the key distinctions between drug possession and drug trafficking lie in the nature of the crime, the accused's intent, the quantity of drugs involved, and the associated penalties.
- Drug possession involves owning or controlling a smaller amount of a controlled substance for personal use, often resulting in probation, fines, and possible incarceration.
- Drug trafficking pertains to the distribution, sale, or transport of larger quantities of drugs, requiring the intent to distribute, and carrying significantly harsher penalties, including mandatory minimum sentences and substantial fines.
Common Types of Trafficked Drugs
Florida's drug trafficking laws encompass a wide range of controlled substances. Some of the common types of drugs involved in trafficking cases in Fort Lauderdale include:
- Cocaine: Cocaine trafficking is a significant concern in South Florida. The state's proximity to drug-producing countries makes it a prime location for cocaine distribution.
- Heroin: Heroin trafficking is another prevalent issue, with law enforcement agencies actively targeting traffickers and distributors.
- Methamphetamine: The production and distribution of methamphetamine have increased in recent years, leading to more trafficking charges in the state.
- Prescription Drugs: Illegally obtaining and distributing prescription medications, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, can also result in drug trafficking charges.
What Qualifies as Drug Trafficking in Florida?
Florida's drug trafficking laws are strict, and they vary depending on the type and amount of the controlled substance involved.
To be charged with drug trafficking in Florida, the prosecution must establish certain elements, including:
- Possession of a Minimum Threshold Quantity: Drug trafficking charges typically require that the accused possesses a certain minimum quantity of the controlled substance. This threshold varies depending on the specific drug but is generally quite high, making even smaller quantities of drugs subject to severe penalties.
- Intent to Distribute or Sell: Prosecutors must demonstrate that the accused had the intention to distribute or sell the controlled substance. This can be inferred from factors such as the quantity of drugs, the presence of drug paraphernalia, or evidence of drug packaging.
- Knowledge and Control: The accused must have knowledge and control over the drugs. Mere proximity to the drugs may not be sufficient for a trafficking charge.
Florida Drug Trafficking Penalties
Florida imposes severe penalties for drug trafficking convictions. The penalties vary based on factors such as the type and quantity of the controlled substance involved. In general, drug trafficking convictions can lead to the following consequences:
- Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Many drug trafficking offenses carry mandatory minimum prison sentences, which means that individuals convicted must serve a specified period in prison, with no possibility of parole or early release.
- Fines: Convicted individuals can face substantial fines, often ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the drug and quantity involved.
- Forfeiture of Assets: In some cases, law enforcement can seize and forfeit the assets, including money, vehicles, and property, connected to drug trafficking activities.
- Probation: After serving their prison sentence, individuals may be placed on probation, which involves strict supervision and adherence to certain conditions.
- Permanent Criminal Record: A drug trafficking conviction can result in a permanent criminal record, which can have far-reaching consequences for employment, housing, and more.
Drug Trafficking Penalty Examples
A couple of examples of the possible punishments for a federal drug trafficking conviction include:
- 10 years to life in prison and/or a $10,000,000 fine when the offense involved:
- 1 kilogram or more of a substance containing heroin
- 5 kilograms or more of a substance containing coca leaves or cocaine
- 100 grams or more of PCP
- 1,000 kilograms or more of a substance containing marijuana
- 50 grams or more of methamphetamine
- 5 to 40 years in prison when the offense involved:
- 100 grams or more of a substance containing heroin
- 500 grams or more of a substance containing coca leaves or cocaine
- 10 grams or more of PCP
- 100 kilograms or more of a substance containing marijuana
- 5 grams or more of methamphetamine
The penalties can increase if another person was injured or died as a result of the trafficking offense, or if the defendant had a prior drug crime conviction.
Under Florida law, a few of the drug trafficking penalties include:
- Between 3 and 30 years in prison and/or a fine of $25,000 when the offense involved more than 25 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds of cannabis
- Between 7 and 30 years in prison and/or a fine of $100,000 when the offense involved 200 grams or more but less than 400 grams of cocaine
- Between 15 and 30 years in prison and/or a fine of $100,000 when the offense involved 14 grams or more but less than 28 grams of an illegal drug such as morphine or opium
Defenses for Drug Trafficking Charges in Florida
When facing drug trafficking charges in Fort Lauderdale, it is crucial to mount a strong defense to protect your rights and future. Several potential defenses may be applicable, depending on the specifics of your case. Some common defenses include:
- Lack of Knowledge or Control: If you were unaware of the presence of drugs or did not have control over them, it may be possible to argue that you should not be held responsible.
- Illegal Search and Seizure: Challenging the legality of the search and seizure that led to your arrest can be a powerful defense strategy. If law enforcement violated your Fourth Amendment rights, evidence may be suppressed.
- Chain of Custody Issues: Ensuring the integrity of the evidence chain is critical. Any breaks in the chain of custody can cast doubt on the reliability of the evidence.
- Entrapment: If law enforcement induced you to commit a crime you would not have otherwise committed, an entrapment defense may be applicable.
- Substance Misidentification: It is not uncommon for substances to be misidentified in drug trafficking cases. Independent testing of the alleged drugs can sometimes reveal inaccuracies.
Should I Hire an Attorney for Drug Trafficking Charges?
Facing drug trafficking charges in Fort Lauderdale is a daunting experience, and the consequences of a conviction are severe. It is highly advisable to seek legal representation from a skilled criminal defense attorney with experience in drug trafficking cases. Here are some reasons why hiring an attorney is essential:
- Legal Expertise: Attorneys have a deep understanding of Florida's drug trafficking laws and can navigate the complex legal system on your behalf.
- Defense Strategies: An experienced attorney can assess the details of your case and develop a tailored defense strategy to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.
- Negotiation Skills: Attorneys can negotiate with prosecutors to potentially reduce charges or secure plea deals that result in less severe penalties.
- Protecting Your Rights: Your attorney will ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process, from arrest to trial.
- Peace of Mind: Having a skilled attorney by your side can provide peace of mind during a stressful and uncertain time.
Attentive and Responsive Legal Representation in Fort Lauderdale
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we recognize the seriousness of a drug trafficking charge and the potential impacts a conviction may have on your life. Our dedicated team of criminal defense attorneys is committed to providing the best possible defense for individuals facing drug trafficking charges in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
That is why we deliver personalized defense and stand shoulder to shoulder with you throughout your case. Getting to know you and understanding your circumstances allows us to build a strategy tailored for your specific needs and to effectively challenge the allegations made against you.
When you hire us, we'll be available 24/7 to answer your questions and address your concerns. Schedule an immediate consultation with our Fort Lauderdale drug trafficking attorneys by calling (954) 840-8713 or contacting us online today.
He is a connoisseur of his craft and conveyed all arguments to its full potential.
“It is with great pleasure to write briefly and comment on John's performance, professionalism and compassion for me as his client. As an attorney, he always stayed ahead of what was going on, worked diligently and efficiently to satisfy all requests.”
He got it done!
“I hired John Hager, because my teen son got into a dispute in Ft. Lauderdale, and needed legal help. John turned out to be as advertised, he is smart, competent, detailed, and responsive to the client and his or her needs.”
I got my FREEDOM back because of Mr. John Hager
“Mr. Hager took on my case and in the following months he always returned my calls and replied to my emails promptly. His staff was also great at keeping me apprised of all court matters.”
"I guarantee he will not disappoint"
“Due to his hard work, the charges were never filed and case was dropped which is truly a miracle and we are so grateful for all his dedication. Should you ever need a defense attorney he is the person to contact, I guarantee he will not disappoint.”
choose an experienced team