The penalties for possession cocaine with intent to buy, sell, deliver are far greater than for simple possession cocaine. Unlike simple possession, possession with intent is considered a commercial drug offense and typically includes greater amounts of cocaine.
Unlike simple possession of cocaine (which is a third degree felony), possession with intent to sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver cocaine is a second degree felony. Under certain circumstances, it can also be a first degree felony. These distinctions make a very big difference when it comes to penalties. A third degree felony is punishable by a maximum of 5 years in Florida State Prison. On the contrary, a second degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison and a first degree felony can be punishable up to 30 years in prison.
As has been discussed in other sections of this site, the reason for this difference is due to the distinction made between personal use and commercial use. If a person is accused of possession with intent to sell, purchase, manufacture, or deliver cocaine, he/she is accused of a crime that is commercial in nature. For this reason, he/she will be facing heftier penalties.
Additionally, penalties for possession cocaine with intent may also include minimum mandatory prison sentence if the allegations include selling, purchasing, manufacturing, or delivering in, on, or within 1000 feet of the following places:
- Any child care facility with requisite signage visible to the public
- Any elementary, middle, or secondary school between 6:00am-12:00am
- Any college, university, or other post-secondary educational institution
- Any state, county, or municipal park, community center, or recreational facility
- Any physical place for worship at which a church or religious organization regularly conducts religious services
- Any public housing facility
Whenever a criminal defense lawyer handles a possession with intent case within 1000 feet of one of these facilities, a number of legal issues arise. First and foremost, a criminal defense attorney must verify for him/herself that the facility in question is really within 1000 feet of the alleged crime location. This is a key fact to determining the penalties for possession cocaine with intent.
Second, a criminal defense lawyer must also determine if the facility in question falls within the legal definitions that are outlined in the statute.
For instance, Florida Statute §402.302 defines a “child care facility” as any child care center or child care arrangement which provides child care for more than five children (unrelated to the operator of the facility) and which receives a payment, fee, or grant for any of the children receiving care, wherever operated, and whether or not operated for profit. However, the following are not included in this definition with some limited exceptions:
- Public schools and nonpublic schools and their integral programs
- Summer camps having children in full-time residence
- Summer day camps
- Bible schools normally conducted during vacation periods
- Operators of transient establishments (hotels) which provide child care services solely for the guests of their establishment or resort
Despite these exceptions, some of the above listed establishments may fall under other definitions, such as schools and churches.
According to Florida Statute §893.13(1)(c), the term “community center” is defines as any facility operated by a nonprofit community-based organization for the provision of recreational, social, or educational services to the public.
If a criminal defense lawyer determines that his/her client’s alleged conduct falls outside of these definitions, then a valid defense may be present. It is important to remember that it is the prosecutor’s burden, and not the defendant’s, to prove the allegations/charges with evidence. If there is a lack of evidence in regards to the legal definitions at issue, then the prosecutor may not be able to meet his/her burden and the case may get thrown out by a judge or a not guilty verdict may be returned by a jury.