Florida has a serious drug problem. An estimated 1.2 million Florida residents recently reported using some type of illegal substance. In 2017 alone, the DEA seized approximately 81,197 dosage units of methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also called ecstasy. An estimated five Florida residents die daily as a direct result of prescription drug overdoses. Cocaine is one of Florida’s most widely used illegal drugs; it was listed as the cause of 1,769 deaths in 2017, with 45 percent of all drug-related cases involving cocaine use. During 2016, there was a 35 percent increase in the number of Florida opioid-related deaths.
Many believe that the severity of Florida’s drug problem stems from its proximity to international waters, which makes it the prime location for trafficking drugs into the United States. The sheer number of drugs found in Florida has led to countless drug-related arrests, and has also generated a great deal of confusion regarding the difference between federal and state drug charges in Florida.
An Overview of Federal Drug Charges
The most obvious difference between federal drug charges and state drug charges in Florida is who prosecutes the case. Federal cases involve the U.S. Attorney’s Office, whereas state prosecutors handle state drugs cases.
Factors that authorities take into account when deciding whether to charge an individual with a federal drug crime or a state drug crime include:
- Whether federal agents or state/local police were involved in the arrest
- What type of drugs you possessed
- What amount you possessed
- If you’re involved in a known drug organization
- How much you cooperated with the arresting agency
- If you are being charged with additional crimes, such as a weapons offense
- The amount of evidence the arresting agency has gathered against you
If you’re found guilty of a federal drug trafficking case, you will most likely spend at least five years in prison, and depending on the type and amount of drugs involved, that often increases to a mandatory ten years. The maximum sentence ranges from 40 years to life in prison. A convicted individual’s attitude, legal history, and the evidence the prosecutor presents all have a huge impact on the severity of the final sentence.
An Overview of Florida Drug Charges
Florida’s drug court is the fifth oldest in the United States. Since its creation, the state has become adept at handling Florida drug crimes and often hands out extremely stiff penalties. The type and amount of drug that you’re caught with impacts how you’re charged, as does your legal history.
- If you’re caught with illegal drugs, you’ll likely be charged with a third-degree felony. If convicted, you will likely be sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
- If caught with a manufactured drug, such as ecstasy, meth, or GHB, you’ll get hit with an illegal chemical charge, which is a second-degree felony. If convicted, you face a sentence of up to fifteen years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- If the police find you carrying ten or more grams of an illegal substance, you’ll most likely be charged with a first-degree felony. The possible sentence includes a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.
Contact Khonsari Law Group Today
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been hit with a Federal or state drug charge, you are facing serious consequences if convicted. You shouldn’t try to hand such serious charges without the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The Khonsari Law Group is here to help. Our lawyers are some of the best in the state, and they will have your back, no matter what. We work hard, utilizing all of our resources and skills to ensure that you are treated fairly and your rights protected. If you’re facing criminal drug charges, you should contact us as soon as possible. Call the Khonsari Law Group at (727) 269-5300, or contact us online, to discuss your case with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.