Historically, South Florida – Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach – have all been associated with the drug trade. Specifically, the history of cocaine in South Florida is utterly notorious. The first thing one must realize, is that there are many types of cocaine crimes prosecuted in State and Federal courts.
Possession of Cocaine
Possession of cocaine is probably the most common of all cocaine crimes prosecuted in the courts. It is also the least severe drug offense after possession of marijuana. As a third degree felony, possession of cocaine is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. However, the penalties for possession of cocaine do not necessarily involve prison. In fact, almost all of our clients charged with possession of cocaine are able to get probation if not have their case dismissed due to exercise of a viable defense or participation in drug court.
Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Buy, Sell, or Deliver
Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Buy, Sell, or Deliver is the second most common types of cocaine crimes prosecuted in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach areas. Unlike simple possession, this offense is a second degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Penalties for possession of cocaine with intent to buy, sell, or deliver can vary, depending on the circumstances.
This is where things get tricky. Possession with Intent can have enhancers – such as being caught within 1000′ of a school or playground. Additionally, the outcome of any possession with intent case will depend heavily on the defendant’s criminal record and which jurisdiction he/she is prosecuted in.
For instance, in Broward County, prosecutors are required to ask for a minimum of 18 months in prison on all Possession of Cocaine with Intent cases as a term of their office policy. However, in Miami, it is not uncommon for those charged with Possession with Intent to be sentenced to probation.
The reason for the difference between the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Broward State Attorney’s Office is simply one of formal policy. In Broward, the State Attorney has a formal policy of offering a minimum of 18 months in prison.
Trafficking in Cocaine
Trafficking Cocaine is the third most common types of cocaine crimes one will encounter in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach areas. Unlike Possession of Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine with Intent, the penalties for trafficking cocaine are very serious and can subject a person to minimum mandatory prison sentences – even if they are a first time offender. Trafficking in Cocaine is also a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and sometimes LIFE, depending on the circumstances and other offenses charged.
This section will discuss these crimes in much greater detail. I will also address some of the most common defenses I may use to help you win your case. These topics will include illegal search and seizure, warrantless searches, exigent circumstances, Miranda Rights, and other topics.
Delivery of Cocaine to a Minor
Delivery of Cocaine to a Minor is the fourth type of cocaine offense. As the title suggest, delivering cocaine to a minor has two components which make it an aggravated offense. First, it is a commercial cocaine offense. It is not simple possession and it does not concern personal use. Delivering cocaine is done for profit. Second, it is considered a crime against children. Anytime a child is considered to have been victimized, corrupted, or exposed to harmful things, the seriousness of the offense is enhanced.
It is not uncommon for Delivery of Cocaine to a Minor to be charged against someone who is over 18, but under 21. This is common because people in the 18-21 age group often times socialize with minors in the 14-17 age group, especially if they have younger siblings.
Delivery of Cocaine to a Minor is a second degree felony and punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.