Arrested for trafficking oxycodone or hydrocodone
As a Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney, I have received dozens of phone calls from people whose family members were recently arrested for trafficking oxycodone or hydrocodone in Florida. Inevitably, each individual asks the same three questions:
1. (My brother) takes oxycodone (or hydrocodone) to relieve back pain. He was only arrested with a few pills. How can you be accused of “trafficking”?
2. Is the minimum sentence for trafficking in oxycodone or trafficking in hydrocodone really three (3) years in prison? Y
3. Why is (my brother) subject to 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 knowingly is 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 first degree felony punishable by up to thirty years in prison.
If the amount involved:
1. is four (4) grams or more, but less than fourteen (14) grams, said 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, said person shall be sentenced to a mandatory term of imprisonment of fifteen (15) years, and the accused shall 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, said person shall be sentenced to a mandatory prison term of twenty-five (25) years, and the accused shall pay a fine of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000.00 ).
The Florida Legislature has found guilty of drug trafficking any person 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, regardless of whether the person was using oxycodone or hydrocodone for personal use. The criminal charge is based on the TOTAL WEIGHT of the drugs, although each pill is likely to contain both illegal and legal substances (ie, 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 constitute trafficking (650 mg x 7 pills = 4, 6 grams).
However, charges of trafficking or possession may be avoided or reduced if the arrestee can show that the specific drug seized by police was legally obtained from a physician or pursuant to a valid prescription. Often, at the request of a criminal defense attorney, the State Attorney’s Office will ask your chemist to compare the milligrams of the medication and the identification numbers engraved on the medication with the milligrams listed on the prescription and the identification numbers of the pharmacy that dispensed the prescription to ensure an exact match. Consequently, people arrested with “black market” pills or pills obtained from friends or neighbors will not be able to prove that the pills were legally obtained, even if the person has a valid prescription for the same medication. Furthermore, even if a person self-medicates with oxycodone or hydrocodone for a legitimate injury, the State of Florida does not consider this “excuse” to be a valid defense.
Standard bail for drug trafficking is typically in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, or at least comparable to the fine mandated by the relevant traffic statute. Often, an experienced criminal defense attorney can negotiate reduced bail terms with the State Attorney’s Office or file a Motion to Reduce Bail with the Court.
In the event that you or a family member is arrested for oxycodone trafficking or hydrocodone trafficking, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. As mentioned above, the crime of Trafficking in Oxycodone or Trafficking in Hydrocodone carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence. A mandatory minimum prison sentence means that the judge cannot waive the prison sentence (with certain limited exceptions); only the State Attorney can dispense the prison sentence.
The Author Philip M. Snyder is a founding partner of Lyons, Snyder & Collin, PA in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Philip M. Snyder handles all criminal defense matters, including drug dealing, economic crimes, domestic violence, and driving under the influence. Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney Marc P. Lyons handles all personal injury cases, including car accidents, wrongful death, and slip and falls.
Fort Lauderdale family law attorney Sean L. Collin handles all family law matters, including divorce, child custody, and alimony.
The Fort Lauderdale law firm of Lyons, Snyder & Collin, PA is located at 312 Southeast 17th Street, Third Floor, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316. Phone: 954.462.8035. http://www.lyonssnyder.com.