21 U.S.C. §841(b)(1)(a), 21 U.S.C. §841(b)(1)(b), 21 U.S.C. §841(b)(1)(c)
One of the most common prosecutions in Federal court is possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, 4,041 offenders were prosecuted in Florida in 2011. This included 1,301 people who had drug offenses. Of this number, 47% involved powder cocaine and 12% involved crack cocaine.
In Federal court, cocaine offenses are prosecuted using three different types of crimes. They are:
- Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine
- Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine
- Trafficking in Cocaine
- Conspiracy to Commit Trafficking in Cocaine
- Simple Possession of Cocaine
In this section, we will address possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida. To know what you may be facing, please see Penalties for possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida.
Defending Against Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine in Florida
When it comes to defending a person against possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida, a criminal attorney must ask a number the following basic questions:
- Did law enforcement conduct an illegal search and seizure?
- Did law enforcement wire tap your cell phone or home phone?
- Did law enforcement read you your rights prior to custodial interrogation?
- How much cocaine does your case concern?
- Does your case concern powder cocaine or crack cocaine?
- Does your case concern allegations of a sale near a school, religious center, rest stop, or other such protected area?
- Does your case involve the death or serious bodily injury of another person?
- Does your case involve the use of a gun or other weapon?
- Are there any other co-defendants? If so, what was their role?
- Was a confidential informant used against you?
- What is the time frame of your case?
- Are you facing other charges, such as for conspiracy, money laundering or asset forfeiture?
- Is there a lack of evidence, a conflict in the evidence, or a credibility problem with the prosecution’s witnesses?
These are threshold questions that a criminal attorney must ask in every possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida. The answers to these questions will help your criminal attorney determine if there are any flaws with the evidentiary aspects of the prosecution’s case. If so, such flaws may be used to defend you against the possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida charge.
Motion to Suppress in a Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine in Florida
Pursuant to the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement is prohibited from violating your privacy. This means you are protected from police intrusion into your personal affairs. However, this protection is not absolute. In a possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida case, it is not uncommon for evidence to be obtained following a search of your house, car, or other property.
When law enforcement wants to search your property, they MUST first obtain a search warrant unless exigent or exceptional circumstances exist. An example of an exception to this rule would be a search of your person incident to arrest or a security search of your luggage at the airport. In such instances, neither a warrant nor exigent circumstances are required.
During an investigation concerning possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida, law enforcement cannot conduct searches in areas where you have a recognized expectation of privacy, such as your home, the trunk of your car, or your body. Rather, they must first get a warrant.
When they fail to do so, a law called the “exclusionary rule” applies.
Pursuant to the exclusionary rule, any evidence obtained as a result of a warrantless search, absent exigent or exceptional circumstances, must be excluded from court and cannot be used against you. When this occurs, the consequences to the prosecution can be catastrophic. Without the necessary evidence, they may not be able to prosecute you for possession with intent to distribute cocaine in Florida.