What can I be charged with in Florida regarding Cocaine Trafficking?

If you’ve been arrested while in possession of cocaine or while you were with someone who had cocaine, you may face a number of criminal charges. Most of these charges are felonies with the possibility of lengthy prison sentences. 

The first possible charge is simple possession. Possession means you had cocaine on your person, in your car, in your home, or in another area that was readily accessible to you. In a group setting, such as multiple people riding together in a car, the police may charge everyone who was in reach of the cocaine. Because cocaine is an illegal substance, the police don’t need to prove what you intended to do with it. The simple fact that you had it is enough to support a possession charge. The penalties for this charge will vary based on the amount of cocaine that you had. 

Trafficking is a more serious charge than possession. Trafficking means that you intended to sell the cocaine or provide it to other people rather than using it for personal use. The police can prove a trafficking charge in a number of ways. 

Many trafficking charges are based only on the amount of cocaine that you had. The legal theory is that if you had more cocaine than one person could possibly use, you must be trafficking it. This offense is based strictly on quantity rather than intent, so it can be hard to fight a trafficking charge even if you really did intend to keep the cocaine for yourself. However, in some cases, it may be possible to convince the prosecutor to charge you with simple possession or to get the judge to impose a lighter sentence if they don’t believe that you intended to sell the cocaine. 

Other trafficking charges may be based on having drug paraphernalia. If you had scales, a lot of small baggies, or even just a lot of cash, the presumption will be that you were using those items in a cocaine selling operation. This type of charge is a more open question for the jury and judge to decide. Even though you normally have the right to remain silent, it may be best to try to prove why the items the police found had nothing to do with selling cocaine. 

Finally, the police may charge you with trafficking if they actively believe you were selling drugs. For example, they might arrest someone else for possession of cocaine and get that person to tell them they got the drugs from you. Another example is when an undercover officer asks you for cocaine and offers to pay you back. This type of charge is possible even if the police never find any cocaine in your possession. However, the burden of proof is on the police and prosecution to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you are a drug dealer. 

There are also civil penalties related to cocaine trafficking. The police may seize your car, cash, or other assets that they believe you were using while selling or transporting cocaine. This is known as civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture does not require a criminal conviction or proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In fact, once the police seizure your property, you have to go to a judge and prove that the property wasn’t being used to traffic cocaine. 

Nearly all cocaine charges will be felonies, and many carry mandatory minimum prison sentences that can start at five or even ten years. If you’ve been charged with cocaine trafficking or related offenses, contact William Hanlon Criminal Lawyer in St Petersburg as soon as possible to schedule a consultation about how to protect your rights