Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and Miami Dade County are no strangers to the drug trafficking industry. Many of the entrepreneurs and citizens of South Florida thrived on the drug trade that was prevalent in Miami and Fort Lauderdale during the past two decades. Drug Trafficking is a serious criminal offense that mandates immediate acquisition of representation through legal counsel. A criminal defense attorney can be instrumental in defending against charges of drug trafficking because many legal issues are arguable in the criminal court, such as whether it can be proven that the defendant possessed the statutorily required amount of drugs when arrested, or whether the police employed the proper criminal procedure in acquiring a search warrant or arrest warrant, executing the search warrant or arrest warrant, and making the arrest. Certain drugs and chemical substances are by law known as “controlled substances.” To prove the crime of Trafficking in Illegal Drugs, the State Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the criminal suspect knowingly sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, brought into the state, or possessed a certain substance, that the substance was morphine, opium, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, heroin, or a mixture thereof or any other controlled substance, that the quantity of the substance involved was 4 grams or more, that the criminal suspect knew that the substance was a controlled substance, and that the criminal suspect intended to sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, bring into the state, or possess a controlled substance. “Sell” means to transfer or deliver something to another person in exchange for money or something of value or a promise of money or something of value. “Manufacture” means the production, preparation, packaging, labeling or relabeling, propagation, compounding, cultivating, growing, conversion or processing of a controlled substance, either directly or indirectly. Manufacturing can be by extraction from substances of natural origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis. It can also be by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis. “Deliver” or “delivery” means the actual, constructive, or attempted transfer from one person to another of a controlled substance, whether or not there is an agency relationship. To “possess” means to have personal charge of or exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the thing possessed. Possession may be actual or constructive. Actual possession means that the controlled substance is in the hand of or on the person, or the controlled substance is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or the controlled substance is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person. Mere proximity to a controlled substance is not sufficient to establish control over that controlled substance when it is not in a place over which the person has control. Constructive possession means the controlled substance is in a place over which the criminal suspect has control, or in which the criminal suspect has concealed it. In order to establish constructive possession of a controlled substance if the controlled substance is in a place over which the criminal suspect does not have control, the State Attorney must prove the criminal suspect’s (1) control over the controlled substance and (2) knowledge that the controlled substance was within the criminal suspect’s presence. Possession may be joint, that is, two or more persons may jointly possess an article, exercising control over it. In that case, each of those persons is considered to be in possession of that article. If a person has exclusive possession of a controlled substance, knowledge of its presence may be inferred or assumed. If a person does not have exclusive possession of a controlled substance, knowledge of its presence may not be inferred or assumed. Knowledge of the illicit nature of the controlled substance is not an element of the offense of the criminal offense charged. Lack of knowledge of the illicit nature of a controlled substance is an affirmative defense. If the criminal suspect raises this affirmative defense, then the jury is permitted to presume that criminal suspect was aware of the illicit nature of the controlled substance if the jury finds that the criminal suspect was in actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance. If from the evidence the jury is convinced that the criminal suspect knew of the illicit nature of the controlled substance, and all of the elements of the charge have been proved, the jury should find the criminal suspect guilty. If the jury has a reasonable doubt on the question of whether the criminal suspect knew of the illicit nature of the controlled substance, the jury should find the criminal suspect not guilty. If the jury finds the criminal suspect guilty of Trafficking in Illegal Drugs, the jury must further determine by its verdict whether the State Attorney has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the quantity of the substance involved was 4 grams or more but less than 14 grams, the quantity of the substance involved was 14 grams or more but less than 28 grams, the quantity of the substance involved was 28 grams or more but less than 30 kilograms, or the quantity of the substance involved was 30 kilograms or more. Kenneth P. Hassett of Hassett and Associates, P.A. is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has been in practice in Miami Dade County, Fort Lauderdale, and Broward County since 1991. Kenneth P. Hassett has experience in defending Floridians against drug trafficking charges. Contact Hassett and Associates, P.A. 24 hours per day seven days per week for a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale Drug Trafficking Defense Lawyer to discuss your rights.
The information on this page does not represent legal advice. Florida Statues obtained from Online Sunshine, www.leg.state.fl.us, the official site of the Florida Legislature. Because the law is continually changing, some of the provisions contained herein may be out of date. It is always wise to seek counsel from an experienced criminal attorney like Kenneth Hassett.
If you have been charged as an Accessory After the Fact or a Principal in the First Degree to a criminal offense in Broward or Miami-Dade County, call Criminal Defense Attorney Kenneth P. Hassett.