As a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, I have received dozens of phone calls from individuals whose family members were recently arrested for Trafficking in Oxycodone or in Hydrocodone in Florida. Inevitably, each individual asks the same three questions:
1. (My brother) takes oxycodone (or hydrocodone) to alleviate back pain. He was only arrested with a few pills. How can he be charged with “Trafficking?”
2. Is the minimum penalty for Trafficking in Oxycodone or Trafficking in Hydrocodone really three (3) years in prison? and
3. Why is (my brother) being held on such a high bond?
Florida Statute 893.135(1)(c) reads in part: Any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into this state, or is knowingly in ACTUAL OR CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION of four (4) grams of more of oxycodone or hydrocodone or four (4) grams or more of ANY MIXTURE CONTAINING oxycodone or hydrocodone commits a felony of the first degree punishable by up to thirty years in prison.
If the quantity involved:
1. is four (4) grams or more, but less than fourteen (14) grams, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment of three (3) years, and the defendant shall be ordered to pay a fine of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00).
2. is fourteen (14) grams or more, but less than twenty-eight (28) grams, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years, and the defendant shall be ordered to pay a fine of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00).
3. is twenty-eight (28) grams or more, but less than thirty (30) kilograms, such person shall be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment of twenty-five (25) years, and the defendant shall be ordered to pay a fine of five-hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00).
The Florida Legislature designated any individual in possession of four (4) grams or more of oxycodone or hydrocodone OR four (4) grams or more of any mixture containing oxycodone or hydrocodone guilty of trafficking in drugs, regardless of whether the individual was using oxycodone or hydrocodone for their own personal use. The criminal charge is based upon the TOTAL WEIGHT of the drugs, even though each pill likely contains both illegal and legal substances (i.e. Acetaminophen). For example, if one (1) “Lortab” pill weighs 650 mg (although it only contains ten (10) mg of hydrocodone), then seven (7) “Lortab” pills constitutes trafficking (650 mg x 7 pills = 4.6 grams).
Trafficking or Possession charges can be avoided or reduced, however, if the arrestee can show that the specific drug seized by law enforcement was lawfully obtained from a practitioner or pursuant to valid prescription. Oftentimes, upon a criminal defense attorney’s request, the State Attorney’s Office will ask their chemist to compare the milligrams of the drug and ID numbers engraved on the drug with the milligrams listed on the prescription and the ID numbers of the pharmacy that dispensed the prescription to ensure an exact match. Accordingly, individuals arrested with “black market” pills or pills obtained from friends or neighbors will not be able to prove that the pills were lawfully obtained, even if the individual has a valid prescription for the same drug. Additionally, even an individual is self-medicating Oxycodone or Hydrocodone for a legitimate injury, the State of Florida does not deem this “excuse” as a valid defense.
The standard bond for trafficking in drugs is typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or at least comparable to the fine required under the relevant trafficking statute. Oftentimes, an experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate reduced bond conditions with the State Attorney’s Office or file a Motion to Reduce Bond with the Court.
In the event you or a family member is arrested for Trafficking in Oxycodone or Trafficking in Hydrocodone, immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. As mentioned previously, the crime of Trafficking in Oxycodone or Trafficking in Hydrocodone carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence. A minimum mandatory prison sentence means that the Judge cannot waive the prison sentence (barring certain limited exceptions); only the State Attorney’s Office can waive the prison sentence.
The author Philip M. Snyder is a founding partner of Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer Philip M. Snyder handles all criminal defense matters including drug trafficking, economic crime, domestic violence, and driving while under the influence. Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney Marc P. Lyons handles all personal injury cases, including auto accidents, wrongful death and slip and fall
Fort Lauderdale family law attorney, Sean L. Collin, handles all family law issues including divorce, child custody and alimony.
The Fort Lauderdale law firm of Lyons, Snyder & Collin, P.A. is located at 312 Southeast 17th Street, Third Floor, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316. Telephone: 954.462.8035. http://www.lyonssnyder.com.