The penalties associated with drug dealing in Florida are more severe than the penalties for simple possession of drugs.
While a individual possessing drugs may be eligible for diversionary programs for substance abuse help, Florida’s much stricter with those who are profiting from the sale of drugs.
As a result, a proactive defense from the beginning for a drug dealing charge is vital.
In this guide we go through the most common drug dealing charges in Florida. These charges are also called the sale and delivery of drugs. We will also discuss the most common defenses to the sale and delivery of drugs.
Common Types of Sale and Delivery in Florida and Penalties
Sale and delivery of cocaine
The crime of sale and delivery of cocaine occurs when somebody sells, manufactures, or delivers any amount of cocaine or somebody possesses any amount of cocaine with the intention of selling, manufacturing, or delivering it.
Because sale or delivery of cocaine is a more serious charge than possession, a judge is able to impose up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years of probation, and up to $10,000 in fines.
Much like all the other drug charges in Florida, a person convicted of sale and delivery of cocaine will have their driver’s license suspended for at least one year. A person is also subject to having an emergency suspension of any professional licenses issued by the state of Florida.
Sale and delivery of cannabis
It is a crime to sell or deliver cannabis (marijuana) in Florida. The crime of sale or delivery of cannabis or marijuana occurs when someone sells, manufactures, or delivers marijuana or someone possesses it with the intention to sell, manufacture, or deliver it.
Sale and possession of marijuana can net you up to five years in prison, up to five years of probation, and up to $5,000 in fines.
Even if you don’t get paid when delivering marijuana, you are still committing a crime. Under Florida law, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor to deliver cannabis to another person even without receiving any payment in return. Because this is a misdemeanor, a judge can punish you by up to one year in jail, one year of probation, or up to $1,000 in fines.
Also, a conviction on a marijuana charge can result in the suspension of driver’s and professional licenses.
Sale and delivery of GHB
The crime of sale or delivery of GHB in Florida occurs when a person sells, manufactures, or otherwise delivers any amount of GHB or possesses any amount of the drug with the intent to sell or deliver it.
A judge can punish you if you’re convicted of sale or delivery of GHB by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and up to $10,000 in fines.
A conviction for sale and delivery of GHB can result in a driver’s license suspension for up to one year. Any professional licenses are also subject to suspension.
Sale and delivery of heroin
Under Florida law, the sale or delivery of heroin occurs when a person sells, manufactures, or delivers any amount of heroin or a person possesses any amount of heroin with the intent to sell or deliver it.
A conviction can result in up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and up to $10,000 in fines.
Someone convicted of the sale or delivery of heroin is subject to having his/her driver’s license suspended for at least a year. Any professional licenses the person has are also at risk of suspension.
Sale and delivery of methamphetamine
Florida aggressively prosecutes individuals who sell methamphetamine. The crime of sale or delivery of methamphetamine is committed when somebody sells, manufactures, or delivers any amount of meth or possesses any amount of the drug with the intention to sell or deliver it.
If you’re convicted, a judge can sentence you to up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years of probation, and up to $10,000 in fines. Your driver’s license could also be suspended for at least a year, as well as any professional licenses you have.
Sale and delivery of MDMA a.k.a. Molly
Selling, manufacturing, or delivering MDMA, which used to be called ecstasy and is currently called Molly, is a crime. The intent to sell, deliver, or manufacture it is also illegal.
The sale or delivery of MDMA is also punishable by up to 15 years in prison, up to 15 years of probation, and up to $10,000 in fines. Anyone convicted of the crime is also likely to have their driver’s license suspended, along with any professional licenses.
Defenses to Drug Dealing Charges in Florida
The defenses to drug dealing in Florida are similar to the defenses for possessing drugs in Florida. They include:
Insufficient evidence defense: the most common defense to drug dealing in Florida is the insufficient evidence defense.
Since every crime discussed above has at least two elements to them, a wise criminal defense attorney recognizes that the state has the burden of proving each of those elements beyond all reasonable doubt.
If the state can’t prove one of the elements, then they have insufficient evidence and the state can’t get its conviction.
From a practical point of view, that means the defense attorney spends time analyzing each little portion of the case to find where a hole may be. If a hole exists, the defense attorney can take that to the state’s attorney and ask the state to dismiss or reduce the charge. The defense lawyer could also try to leverage a favorable deal for the client. If necessary, the defense attorney can take this in front of the judge.
Illegal search and seizure defense: a popular defense to drug dealing charges in Florida is the illegal search and seizure defense.
A drug dealing charge often at some point has the accumulation of evidence on an individual that came after an officer searched or seized drugs from a person’s body, home, or car.
Thus, this seized evidence can often be damning and make an exoneration difficult.
But in Florida, it’s important that evidence seized by a police officer is done so legally. If the criminal defense attorney can show that the evidence was seized illegally, then that evidence can be suppressed and removed from the state’s case.
Removing important pieces of evidence from the state’s case can make the prosecution weak or in some cases even result in the inability for the state to continue pursuing a conviction.
Entrapment: the entrapment defense is a legal justification to the otherwise unlawful dealing of drugs.
Entrapment happens when the police improperly induce a person to sell drugs when that person might not have done so otherwise.
For example, consider the situation where an undercover officer really wants to make a big drug bust. That undercover officer knows that Dougie User has drugs on him. The officer tries to get Dougie User to sell drugs to him. Dougie User declines, because he’s a user not a seller. But the officer continues on and on, and ultimately puts so much pressure on him that Dougie User ends up doing something he never would’ve done without this aggressive officer forcing him into it.
Options to Resolve Drug Dealing Cases in Florida
Reduction to a Possession Charge
One possible option to resolve the drug dealing charge is to get the state to reduce it to a mere possession charge.
As discussed above, we handle possession charges in a different way than we handle dealing charges. A possession charge may have options available such as pretrial intervention, drug treatment, or other nonpunitive measures that may help minimize jail time.
Also, reducing an otherwise second-degree felony drug dealing charge to a third-degree possession charge (or in the case of marijuana a misdemeanor charge) may enable a person to get a diversionary outcome that results in a settlement or expungement down the road.
Seek a Dismissal
Regardless of the severity of the drug dealing charges, the burden is still on the state of Florida to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. That means, depending on the facts, a proactive defense by your criminal attorney may result in a dismissal of your case.
If neither dismissal nor reduction is possible, then perhaps a plea negotiation on the drug dealing charge may be appropriate. While the maximum penalty for the vast majority of drug dealing charges is 15 years in prison, that gives a lot of leeway for some prudent negotiations and settlement offers. In some cases, good negotiation by a criminal attorney can take a case where the state’s attorney was looking for jail or prison time and turn it into a probationary case. Plea deals are highly dependent on the facts of the case, as well as your individual facts and prior history. Much like any negotiation, the negotiations can take place over the course of days or even weeks.
Of course there is the option to take a drug dealing case to trial. This is most appropriate when in negotiations the criminal defense attorney and state’s attorney are too far apart to bridge the gap and reach a reasonable settlement, or in the case where the defendant is innocent but the state’s attorney refuses to dismiss the charge regardless of the evidence presented by defense counsel.