Florida’s geographic location and coastline make it a popular place for the importation of cocaine. Prosecutors take cocaine crimes seriously, and convictions may be punished harshly. If you are charged with a cocaine crime, you should take these charges very seriously. Tampa cocaine crime lawyer Jason Mayberry at the Mayberry Law Firm may be able to help you.Cocaine Crimes
Cocaine is illegal under both state and federal laws. Florida law divides drugs into five categories, with Schedule I drugs having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use; cocaine is a Schedule II drug. Florida Statutes Section 893.13 forbids the possession, sale, manufacture, delivery, importation, and trafficking of controlled substances. One prohibited controlled substance is cocaine. Even if you possess a small quantity of cocaine, you could face a felony charge and be sentenced to prison.
You can be charged with cocaine possession, whether your possession was actual or constructive. Both are forbidden. Actual possession of cocaine means that you had it on hand or close enough to be within reach. Constructive possession must be shown if the cocaine was not on your person or close to you. A prosecutor seeking to prove constructive possession of cocaine must show that you were able to exercise control and dominion over the cocaine, knew of the cocaine’s presence, and knew of the cocaine’s illicit nature. A cocaine crime attorney can help Tampa residents build a strategy against these charges.
If you are caught with less than 28 grams of cocaine, you can be faced with a third-degree felony charge. Sentencing can involve up to five years of imprisonment, probation, fines of up to $5,000, and the loss of your driver’s license for a year.
The threshold for cocaine trafficking is 28 grams of cocaine. You might assume that this charge is for people who have strong ties to the drug world. However, if the quantity involved in your case meets this threshold, you can be charged with cocaine trafficking. This is a first-degree felony, for which you can face a mandatory minimum sentence. First-degree felonies can be punished by a maximum of 30 years of imprisonment, 30 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine. In addition to the judicially imposed penalties, you may find it difficult to get a job or housing or an educational loan if you have a criminal record.
You can be charged with a second-degree felony for the sale of cocaine. Prior drug convictions and larger quantities of cocaine can result in harsher penalties. However, you may qualify for a diversion program if you possessed a small amount of cocaine.Defenses
If you are charged with a cocaine crime, you may feel that the cards are stacked against you. The prosecutor and police have substantial resources. However, an experienced Tampa cocaine crime attorney can look closely at the facts to determine whether there are any applicable defenses to the cocaine crime charges, and which defense strategy is likely to yield the most favorable outcome.
Like other crimes, cocaine crimes must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. It may be possible to raise a reasonable doubt about the charges. We may be able to show that there is not enough evidence to support the elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are charged with possession, and the charge is based on constructive possession, we may be able to argue that the area in which the cocaine was found was out of your control. If the cocaine was found in an illegal search and seizure by the police, we may be able to get the evidence of the drugs suppressed altogether.Plea Negotiations
There are situations in which it is wiser to negotiate a plea deal rather than going to trial on a drug charge. In some cases, prosecutors offer plea deals to drug crime offenders who are lower on the totem pole in exchange for building cases against producers and dealers at higher levels. Plea negotiations may also be appropriate in cases in which the prosecutor understands that you have a strong enough case that a reasonable doubt may be raised with a jury, but there is still a chance of a conviction.Drug Court
Sometimes drug court is appropriate to lower recidivism and provide treatment and rehabilitation for chronic substance abusers and addicts. Often, regular drug testing, probation officer check-ins, and ongoing addiction services are involved.Hire a Cocaine Crime Lawyer in Tampa
If you are facing a cocaine charge, you should talk to a seasoned drug crime attorney. Jason Mayberry may be able to counsel and represent you. He represents clients in Tampa and other cities in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Sarasota, Polk, Manatee, and Hardee Counties. Call us at (813) 444-7435 or complete our online form.