Florida Drug Trafficking Laws & Penalties

Florida imposes severe penalties on people convicted of most drug offenses. While all drug-related crimes are viewed as serious by Florida criminal courts and law enforcement, drug trafficking offenses are considered the most deserving of severe penalties. Drug trafficking charges carry mandatory minimum sentences, large fines, and long prison terms.  


At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law in Tampa, we think anyone facing such charges must understand Florida’s drug trafficking laws and penalties. This blog post explains the details of drug trafficking legislation in Florida. If you are facing drug trafficking charges in Florida, or you have questions about how the law affects you, call our office today.  



Definition of Drug Trafficking in Florida 


Florida Statute §893.135 defines drug trafficking as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, transport into the state, or actual or constructive possession of specified amounts of illegal drugs. The law establishes threshold quantities for each substance, ranging from 28 grams of cocaine to 30 kilograms of marijuana. Because of the criminal statute’s wide reach, prosecutors frequently rely on circumstantial evidence when building their trafficking cases, sometimes pulling innocent parties into lengthy and expensive legal battles.  


Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Fines for Florida Drug Trafficking 


Florida imposes mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking convictions. These mandatory rules mandate that judges must impose sentences within predetermined penalty ranges regardless of an individual defendant’s circumstances. These sentencing guidelines vary according to the type and quantity of drug involved in the crime: 


  • Cannabis – Trafficking between 25 pounds and 2,000 pounds carries a three-year mandatory minimum sentence and a $25,000 fine. Quantities exceeding 10,000 pounds trigger a fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence and a $200,000 fine. 
  • Cocaine – Possessing 28 to 199 grams results in a three-year mandatory minimum sentence and a $50,000 fine. Larger quantities—ranging from 400 grams to 150 kilograms—carry a mandatory minimum sentence of between 15 years, plus fines ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. If the amount equals or exceeds 150 kilos, the law imposes a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of release except by pardon or executive clemency. 
  • Heroin – Trafficking between 4 and 14 grams of heroin carries a three-year mandatory minimum sentence and a $50,000 fine. Higher quantities of heroin—up to 30 kilograms—result in sentences from 25 years to life imprisonment and fines ranging from $500,000 to $750,000. 


With such severe penalties facing anyone charged with drug trafficking in Florida, choosing the right criminal defense lawyer to conduct an effective defense is essential, even for first-time offenders. 


Aggravating Circumstances in Florida Drug Trafficking Cases 


There are a number of aggravating factors that will elevate the potential penalties beyond the statutory mandatory minimum in Florida drug trafficking cases. Some of these factors are   

  • prior felony convictions 
  • involvement of minors in the commission of the offense 
  • distribution near designated protected areas (schools or churches) 
  • knowingly creating a grave risk of death, or  
  • use of a firearm in the commission of the offense 


How a Skilled and Experienced Drug Defense Lawyer Can Help 


Effectively defending a person charged with violating Florida’s complex drug trafficking laws requires specialized knowledge and experience. A skilled and experienced drug defense attorney can provide invaluable assistance throughout the legal process, employing proven strategies tailored to your individual case facts and circumstances.  


Drug defense lawyers also excel at negotiating plea bargains or alternative sentencing options when appropriate, sparing clients from maximum penalties associated with mandatory minimum sentences. If a trial becomes inevitable, we use our years of courtroom experience to protect and advocate for our clients, highlighting inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case, challenging doubtful testimony, and emphasizing constitutional protections. Our tireless efforts consistently yield optimal outcomes for clients faced with serious drug trafficking charges. 


Our close attention to detail often results in the discovery of important procedural errors by law enforcement, entitling the defense to file well-founded legal motions seeking to suppress the evidence, preventing the prosecution from using evidence against our client that was illegally developed or obtained by the investigating or arresting police officers. 


Read More > Drug Trafficking Isn’t Always What it Sounds Like? 


At Stechschulte Nell – We’re by Your Side 


The best criminal defense lawyers leave no stone unturned when investigating the facts involved in drug trafficking allegations. At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law, we meticulously review police reports, witness statements, and physical evidence to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, challenge questionable procedures, and uncover exculpatory material that bolsters our client’s defense.  


Conducting a thorough examination of the evidence and applying our professional analytical skills, our defense lawyers ensure that every available avenue is explored, increasing the opportunity to obtain a favorable resolution of the defendant’s charges. 


If you are charged with drug trafficking in Miami, Orlando, or Tampa, contact the criminal defense lawyers at Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law by calling 813-280-1244. 


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