The Florida Statutes outline many different drug offenses, which may lead to some confusion. One of the most common examples of this is distinguishing the difference between drug distribution and drug trafficking charges. It is critical to know the differences between the two offenses, as they are both defined differently under the law, and the penalties for a conviction will also differ.
Drug Distribution vs. Drug Trafficking
Florida law defines drug distribution as importing, selling, or moving a controlled substance. The law also outlines a list of controlled substances, with notable drugs such as cocaine and heroin being included. It is important to note that a person does not have to be caught selling a controlled substance to be charged with drug distribution. Even just having a significant amount of cash along with a controlled substance can warrant distribution charges.
The main difference between drug distribution and drug trafficking is the amount of the drugs involved. For example, a person may possess four ounces of marijuana and have a lot of cash on them. They would likely face distribution charges. On the other hand, if a person had 40 pounds of marijuana, they would likely be charged with trafficking, even if there was not a large amount of money involved. Contrary to what many people think, the drugs do not have to be in transit for trafficking charges to apply.
Penalties for Drug Distribution and Trafficking
Regardless of whether a person is facing drug distribution or drug trafficking charges, the penalties associated with a conviction will vary depending on the quantity of the drug involved. Additionally, when a defendant is under the age of 21 years old, they may also receive a reduced sentence. Individuals that assist the prosecution, which is common when a case involves a large operation, may also receive a reduced sentence.
The offense of drug distribution with intent to sell is usually classified as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years and a maximum fine of $5,000. When the charge is upgraded to a second-degree felony, the maximum fine is increased to $15,000 and the prison sentence to 15 years.
The penalties for drug trafficking will depend not only on the amount of drugs involved, but also the type of controlled substance in question. A conviction for drug trafficking can result in between 3 and 25 years in prison and fines ranging between $50,000 and $500,000.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Orlando Can Help with Your Drug Charges
Drug distribution charges do differ from drug trafficking charges, but they are both very serious criminal offenses. If you or someone you love has been charged, our Orlando drug crime defense lawyer at O’Mara Law Group can provide the sound legal advice you need. Our skilled attorney has the necessary experience to build you a strong defense and give you the best chance of a positive outcome. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation so we can review your case.