Articles Posted in Drug crimes

Drug crimes can result in serious penalties, and typically lengthier sentences are imposed for offenses involving certain classes of drugs. In recent years, though, flaws in the federal sentencing schemes were noted, and numerous laws were passed to address sentencing discrepancies, and people sentenced under prior laws may be eligible for reduced sentences. In a recent opinion, a Florida court discussed eligibility for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act in a case in which the trial court denied the defendant’s request for a reduction. If you are charged with a drug offense, it is smart to meet with a Sarasota criminal defense attorney regarding your rights.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that in 2005, the defendant was charged with and found guilty of numerous drug crimes, including conspiracy to possess 50 grams or more of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute, in violation of federal law. Due to the amount of crack in his possession and his prior criminal history, he was sentenced to life in prison for the conspiracy charge. His total sentence was life in prison plus fifteen years, followed by ten years of supervised release. In 2019, the defendant sought a reduction of his sentence under the First Step Act. His sentence was reduced but he nonetheless appealed, arguing it should have been further reduced per the terms of the Act.

Reductions of Penalties Under the First Step Act

In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which changed the statutory penalties for drug offenses involving crack cocaine, including the one for which the defendant was convicted. The amendments were not applied retroactively, though, until 2018, when Congress enacted the First Step Act. Specifically, the First Step Act provides that the Fair Sentencing Act is retroactive and granted courts the authority to reduce the sentences of eligible crack offenders if they deemed it appropriate. Continue Reading ›

In Florida, it is illegal for people to possess controlled substances other than those prescribed by a doctor. Additionally, it is unlawful to sell or distribute such drugs, and people caught with a certain quantity of illicit substances may be charged with drug trafficking. Drug trafficking is a serious crime that carries substantial penalties, and it is critical for people charged with such offenses to understand their rights. If you are accused of drug trafficking, it is in your best interest to meet with a Sarasota criminal defense attorney to evaluate your options for seeking a just result.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Under Florida Statute 893.135, it is unlawful to knowingly purchase, manufacture, sell, deliver, or bring in to the state or to knowingly possess certain amounts of controlled substances and constitutes drug trafficking. The amount varies depending on the drug in question. For example, a person who is caught with more than 25 pounds of cannabis or 300 or more cannabis plants may be charged with trafficking in cannabis, which is a felony of the first degree.

Similarly, a person who possesses 28 grams or more of cocaine may be charged with trafficking in cocaine. People may also be charged with drug trafficking for possessing a certain amount of morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone, opium, hydrocodone, or any salt, isomer, derivative, or salt of an isomer of such a substance, including heroin and many other drugs. In addition to state charges, people accused of drug trafficking are also frequently charged with federal offenses. Continue Reading ›

In all criminal cases, the State bears the burden of producing evidence that the defendant committed the crime for which he or she is charged. If the State does not produce adequate evidence of a crime, the defendant should not be convicted. If a defendant is convicted despite insufficient evidence of a crime, as a general rule, he or she can only appeal if he or she objected to the sufficiency of evidence during the trial. An exception to this rule occurs when there is no evidence that the defendant committed a crime, however.

This was demonstrated in a case decided by a Florida court, where the court overturned a conviction for possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking, due to the State’s lack of evidence of the crime. If you live in Sarasota and are currently facing criminal charges, you should consult a trusted Sarasota crime defense attorney to develop a strategy for your defense. 

Alleged Facts Regarding the Crime Committed  

Allegedly, a detective was at a package distribution center when a package was brought to his attention. The package was addressed to the defendant, who did not live at the address to which the package was sent. The package was delivered to a house located at the address listed on the package. Shortly thereafter, the defendant pulled up to the house in a car and went into the house. He left the house with the package a few minutes later and got into his car and drove away. The police then arrested the defendant. The defendant was charged with cocaine trafficking, possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted on all charges. The defendant appealed the possession of a conveyance to be used for trafficking conviction.

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