Florida has some strict rules relating to possessing illegal drugs. What many people do not know is that all it takes to get slapped with a trafficking charge — which is far more serious than simple possession — is to get caught with a certain amount of a drug on your person. If you watch TV, you may think the only people who get trafficking charges are big drug cartels and their leaders, but that is not the case at all. So, knowing what constitutes possession charges versus trafficking charges is a good place to start.
Drug possession is what it sounds like. If you get caught with illegal drugs on your person, in your bag or purse, in your car, or in your home, you can find yourself charged with possession of an illegal substance. For a prosecutor to prove the crime of possession, he or she must prove the following elements:
- The substance found is an illegal, controlled substance.
- The defendant knew that the substance was in his or her possession.
- The substance was under the defendant’s control.
The Florida legislature has defined trafficking as the intentional sale, purchase, possession, delivery, manufacture or transportation of a controlled substance, wherein the weight of the substance exceeds statutory limits for simple possession. To warrant a trafficking charge, the weight thresholds are:
- Marijuana: Possession of 25 pounds or more carries a mandatory minimum of three years in prison
- Methamphetamine: Possession of 14 grams or more of meth is punishable by a minimum of three years in prison
- Cocaine: Possession of over 28 grams is punishable by a minimum of three years in prison
- Ecstacy: Possession of over 10 grams is punishable by a minimum of three years in prison
While these sentences are unsettling, there are defenses available for those charged with either possession or trafficking. So, if you get arrested, do your research to find out what your rights are and what defenses may be available to you.