Cocaine - Schedule II Controlled Substance Arrests
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Besides marijuana and heroin, cocaine is the third most widely-used recreational drug nationwide. It is a potent stimulant giving its users a pleasurable "high" and feeling of euphoria. It is also used by many who are attempting to lose weight as an appetite suppressant. Additionally, its use maintains a medicinal value when used mainly for oral surgery as an anesthetic. In the State of Florida, cocaine is categorized as a Schedule II controlled substance and of course is illegal to possess.
Unlike marijuana, which is a Schedule I controlled substance the primary reason for its characterization as a Schedule II controlled substance is its beneficial use as a medication.
Although many people don't realize the drug is still used for medicinal purposes, many doctors and surgeons still use it during surgeries and procedures; mostly those that involve the lining of the mouth, nose, sinuses, and throat. It is an excellent painkiller when applied before many medical procedures for mild numbing purposes. Some of the common medical procedures it is used for are biopsies, stitches inside and outside of the mouth and nose, and debridement (wound cleaning). It quickly works to numb the desired area within minutes after its application. Another positive effect of its use is it having the ability to cause the restriction of blood vessels which by its application decreases bleeding and swelling during necessary medical procedures.
In the State of Florida, being arrested for sale, distribution or possession of cocaine is a serious felony. Unlike possession of small amounts of marijuana a prosecutor may seek jail time even for a first-time offender. Jail time is quantified in years of incarceration for the amount possessed, as well as bought or sold during the time when an arrest takes place.
Possession of Cocaine
Being arrested for small amounts of cocaine is considered simple possession. Larger amounts may be charged as possession with intent to distribute especially in the case of cocaine if drug paraphernalia such as scales, baggies, foil wrapping materials and vials are uncovered at the time of an arrest.
"Actual possession" is having the cocaine found on your person such as in a pocket, wallet or handbag as well as in a person's hands or hidden within other parts of the body when an arrest takes place. "Constructive possession" basically means that the cocaine is within control of an individual. An example of this would be if multiple persons were in a public area such as a park when law enforcement observed what they believed to be cocaine in plain sight on a picnic table, or other area adjacent and easily obtainable by all persons by the table. In cases like this there may be multiple arrests depending on numerous factors.
In matters of cocaine possession, the magic number is twenty-eight. If a person is arrested and found to have less than twenty-eight grams of the drug on their person or the same amount or less changing hands with another at the time of an arrest without monetary gain it is considered to be a third-degree felony under Florida law. If a conviction results from such an arrest the penalties can be up to five years in prison and/or a five-thousand dollar fine as well as the mandatory loss of the offender's driver's license for a period of two years if convicted. If the charge can be proven to be an actual sale of the drug it is then classified as a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison and fines up to ten thousand dollars.
If you or someone you care about is arrested for any of the above-mentioned charges in the Dade, Broward or Palm Beach Counties of Florida it is very important that you seek a criminal defense attorney at the earliest possible opportunity to stand as your advocate and defend your rights.
Why My Law Office is the Correct Choice When Seeking Counsel
Previously as an Assistant Attorney General for the state as well as an Assistant United States Attorney and an Assistant State Attorney for Broward County; crafting my skills for the federal government, my services can provide you or someone close to you with the proper representation which is needed to fight any allegations brought forward by either prosecutorial agency. As a benefit of the numerous trials involving the sale, possession, cultivation and/or trafficking of illegal narcotics that I've personally directed or was a part of; for the States of Florida and New York as well as the federal government, I've gained a clear-cut advantage of knowing which way the prosecution will move ahead with these types of cases This awareness allows me to anticipate actions that may be taken when charges are filed. This knowledge helps in my preparation for a strong defense and assists me in challenging and countering all actions taken by the prosecution. For a first-time offender a sentence of five years' probation can be achieved when an attorney with my abilities is retained.
In a case when an arrest takes place and an individual is charged for any crime when more than twenty-eight grams of cocaine is involved, the penalties and fines rise greatly.
Where there are *usually no mandatory minimum sentences for a conviction of any crimes involving less than twenty-eight grams of cocaine in Florida, this is not the case if the amount seized upon arrest exceeds that amount.
*If an arrest takes place for the sale of cocaine within a thousand feet of a school, a mandatory minimum sentence can be attached if a conviction is imposed.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences
All penalties are pursuant to state sentencing guidelines.
If the amount seized is above twenty-eight grams of cocaine but less than two hundred grams, a conviction will hold a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison and a fifty thousand dollar fine based on state sentencing guidelines. Being found guilty of any crimes relating to an excess of two hundred grams more than doubles the prison sentence. Under Florida's sentencing guidelines, a quantity of two hundred to four hundred grams of cocaine is punishable by a seven year prison sentence and a fine of one hundred thousand dollars. The penalty more than doubles again when the quantity is increased to four hundred grams, which is well over three hundred pounds, and the mandatory minimum sentence increases to fifteen years in prison with a quarter-million dollar fine. In excess of 150 kilograms (keys, kilos) makes the crime a first-degree felony under Florida law with a conviction resulting with life imprisonment.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Statutory Minimum Mandatory Sentences
The federal sentencing guidelines are different and also vary statutorily depending upon the amount of cocaine involved after an arrest as well if a first or second time offender was involved or whether the arrest involved an individual or a group of individuals. There is also a distinction between guideline sentences concerning powder cocaine or cocaine base.
In the case of a conviction being obtained for any crime regarding a quantity of cocaine of five hundred to four thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine grams, the penalty will be not less than five years but no more than forty years in prison for a first time offender. For a conviction of a second cocaine offense the penalty is upped to not less than ten years to life.
When quantities in excess of five kilograms or more of cocaine or an amount in excess of two hundred eighty grams or more of any cocaine based substance is present, the penalty for a first time offense will be a minimum of ten years in prison to life. A second time offender will face a penalty of not less than twenty years to life in prison. More than two prior offenses for related charges will more than likely result in life imprisonment and a fine up to twenty million dollars. A conviction for a group or syndicate can result I fines as high as 75 million dollars.
In all of these settings the sentencing guidelines statutory minimum penalties demonstrate extreme increases in intervals of length of incarceration and the sum of fine amounts if a death or serious bodily injury results from the criminal action leading up to or is involved during the arrest.
I have handled a multitude of narcotics cases over the years in both State and Federal settings for cases involving simple third degree felonies to cases as complex as those involving the federal death penalty related to narcotics prosecutions. I will be happy to help you if you are charged with these serious matters. Call Now: 954.928.0059 - If you know someone who faces any of the above charges in the Dade, Broward or Palm Beach County areas of South Florida as well as any other counties throughout the state, I can't stress more emphatically the importance of retaining a qualified expert criminal defense attorney who has previous experience in trying these types of cases and is familiar in the ways and methods of the prosecution whether if charges are alleged by the state or the federal government.
Innocence is always presumed and the prosecution must always have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Recognizing all defenses at my disposal can make the difference between a guilty verdict and an acquittal.
To read all of my qualifications and understand why you should call me at the earliest opportunity when an arrest takes place for a case involving cocaine or other narcotics charges, click here.