12 Nov What You Need to Know About State and Federal Trafficking Crimes in Florida
If you have been accused of trafficking in Florida, you need a knowledgeable and experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer. At Sara Jones Law, P.A., we have seen how law enforcement agencies use numerous resources and tools, like confidential informants and undercover officers to fight trafficking and make arrests. Some of these practices are controversial and clearly for financial gain, pumping millions of dollars to local departments. The city of Sunrise, Florida, recovered $5.8 million in “reverse sting” operations that was used to pay officers’ overtime and buy new equipment.
Types of Trafficking Cases We Handle
Sara Jones Law, P.A., handles criminal defense cases in central Florida and offers a free consultation to discuss your legal rights. We handle all types of trafficking cases in Florida:
- Drug trafficking: Although the term “trafficking” often conjures images of large scale cartel operations, individuals may be charged with trafficking. If a person travels from another state into Florida and brings drugs with them, they may be charged with drug trafficking. Anyone who delivers or sells a controlled substance can be charged with drug trafficking, according to Florida Statute Annotated § 893.13. Because Florida has mandatory minimums for drug offenses, drug trafficking charges must be taken seriously.
- Sex trafficking/sexual slavery: Sex trafficking is a form of human trafficking, that involves transporting vulnerable women and children and forcing them to work in sex acts, including illicit spa/massage businesses, escort services, and commercial prostitution services.
- Human trafficking: The process of trapping people through violence, coercion, or deception and exploiting them for personal or financial gain. Transporting of illegal or undocumented workers may be an effort to bypass immigration laws.
- Firearm trafficking/ straw purchasing: Purchasing a gun for the purpose of selling it or transferring it to someone else who cannot lawfully purchase it themselves.
Trafficking charges can have life-changing consequences. Depending on the crime(s), you could be facing 15-30 years in prison, and possibly could have to register as a sex offender.
Penalties for Trafficking in Florida
In Florida, penalties for trafficking vary widely. Most drug trafficking charges offenses are charged as a first-degree felony punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison. While possession charges do not have mandatory minimums, trafficking crimes do have mandatory minimums. A simple drug possession charge will become a drug trafficking charge when a person possesses an illegal narcotic that is greater than a specified weight. Even if the intent is only for personal use, you can be charged with drug trafficking if you are found in possession of any of the following:
Marijuana: Possession of 25 pounds or more of marijuana is a first-degree felony, with a minimum $25,000 fine and three years in prison
Ecstasy/MDMA: Possession of 10 grams or more of ecstasy is a first-degree felony, with a minimum $50,000 fine and three years in prison.
Methamphetamines: Possession of 14 grams or more of methamphetamine is a first-degree felony, with a minimum $50,000 fine and three years in prison.
Cocaine: Possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine is a first-degree felony, with a minimum $50,000 fine and three years in prison.
Human Trafficking for Labor or Services or Commercial Sexual Activity are felony charges with minimum sentences.
Rachel’s Law – Protecting Confidential Informants For Law Enforcement
In 2008, Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old Florida State University was murdered while acting as a police informant. A few weeks earlier, police had been called to her apartment after a neighbor complained about the smell of marijuana. When police asked if she had illegal substances inside, she said yes and officers seized marijuana and several pills. Police told her that she could help herself if she provided substantial assistance to the department’s narcotics team. Without any training, the Tallahassee Police Department sent her with $13,000 in cash to meet two convicted felons to buy fifteen hundred Ecstasy pills, two and a half ounces of cocaine, and a semi-automatic handgun. The undercover operation did not go as planned, and two days later, Hoffman’s body was found, shot with the handgun she had been sent to buy.
Hoffman’s death led to Rachel’s Law – Florida Statute Section 914.28, which went into effect on July 1, 2009, requiring law enforcement agencies to:
- Provide special training for officers who recruit confidential informants
- Instruct informants that reduced sentences may not be provided in exchange for their work
- Permit informants to request a lawyer.
In Florida, working as a confidential informant is called providing substantial assistance. If you’ve been accused of a crime and are asked to work as a confidential informant, you should consider speaking to a criminal defense attorney. While confidential informants are better protected now thanks to Rachel’s law, acting as a CI can be extremely dangerous, with no guaranteed benefit. It is important to remember, the police do not have the power to make your charges go away. If you are on probation for other crimes, acting as a CI may be a violation of that probation.
Get a Free Consultation With a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
To speak to a Florida criminal defense lawyer about your rights and defenses in a trafficking case, call Sara Jones Law, P.A. at (863) 455-4811. All consultations are free.