The penalties for possessing illegal drugs have softened in Florida in recent years as courts now favor treatment over punishment, but individuals who distribute or traffic controlled substances are still treated harshly. Individuals are charged with drug possession with the intent to distribute when significant quantities of controlled substances are found or evidence of drug dealing is discovered. Items that would lead police officers to believe than an individual is selling drugs include plastic bags and other packaging materials, scales and large amounts of cash.
Drug distribution penalties
Individuals found in possession of more than 28 grams of cocaine, more than 20 grams of marijuana, up to 14 grams of methamphetamine or up to four grams of heroin will face third-degree felony charges in Florida if no evidence of a drug dealing operation is discovered. A third-degree felony is punishable by a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000. Drug possession with the intent to distribute is usually charged as a second-degree felony in Florida. A second-degree felony carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000. The maximum penalties for drug distribution in Florida are usually reserved for repeat offenders.
Drug trafficking penalties
The penalties for drug trafficking are harsh in Florida and include mandatory minimum sentences. Trafficking any controlled substance is a first-degree felony in the Sunshine State, which means offenders can be sent to prison for up to 30 years. Mandatory minimum sentences for these drug charges are also severe. Trafficking up to 4 grams of opiates carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years, but individuals convicted of trafficking 28 grams of opiates will spend at least 25 years behind bars.
The penalties for distributing or trafficking illegal drugs are harsh in Florida, and even first-time offenders face mandatory minimum sentences of up to 25 years if they are found in possession of large quantities of highly addictive controlled substances. The penalties are even harsher for offenders who sell drugs within 1,000 feet of a school or who have previous narcotics convictions.