Tampa Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

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An Exceptional Defense Against State And Federal Drug Charges

State and federal law enforcement agents and prosecutors have spent countless dollars and hours fighting the so-called “War on Drugs.” Although many believe this war cannot be won, this has not stopped the government from investigating and prosecuting individuals for trafficking, manufacturing or possessing drugs. Under Florida law, the penalties for these crimes are very severe. If you or someone you love faces Florida or federal drug charges, there are a number of things to consider, including mandatory minimum prison sentences in the event of a conviction. It is critical to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.

We are the law firm of O'Brien Hatfield, PA. For years, our lawyers have defended clients facing all types of state and federal drug charges, which range from possession or sale of drug paraphernalia to manufacturing, distribution and conspiracy charges to even trafficking and importation offenses. At our law firm, we have significant experience defending people against prescription drug charges and internet drug crimes. Law enforcement agents are devoting increasing resources to investigating the illegal use and sale of prescription drugs, including:

  • Oxycodone/OxyContin possession and distribution
  • Hydrocodone/Vicodin
  • Ritalin and Adderall

If you or someone you love has been accused of selling or using these drugs illegally, we will mount a strong defense against the charges. Our Florida state and federal drug crimes lawyers defend people accused of selling or possessing so-called street drugs as well, including:

  • Cocaine possession and distribution
  • Marijuana possession and distribution
  • Methamphetamine possession and distribution
  • Heroin possession and distribution
  • Ecstasy possession and distribution

Whatever drug charge you face, our law firm will investigate your charges completely and explore every potential defense. We will investigate whether the drugs in question were actually yours. We will look at whether the police had probable cause to search you, your vehicle or your home. Our strategic, aggressive approach has led to many acquittals, dismissals and favorable plea agreements.

Drug Crime Penalties In Florida

Drug possession: Drug possession includes any illegal substance under a certain weight that is found on your person, in a vehicle or in a homestead. Penalties may include the following:

  • Marijuana: Possessing up to 20 grams of marijuana does not have a mandatory minimum sentence, but it does have a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
  • Cocaine: Possessing up to 28 grams of cocaine does not have a mandatory minimum sentence, but it does have a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
  • Ecstasy: Possessing up to 10 grams of ecstasy does not have a mandatory minimum sentence, but it does have a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
  • Methamphetamine: Possession of meth is considered a third-degree felony. There is no mandatory minimum sentencing requirement, but the maximum penalty is up to five years in state prison.

Drug selling or trafficking: A drug possession charge will turn into a drug trafficking charge when an individual possesses an illegal narcotic greater than a specified weight. The charge varies for each type of drug, such as the following:

  • Marijuana: Possessing 25 pounds or more of marijuana is a first-degree felony, and the minimum penalty is three years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine.
  • Cocaine: Possessing 28 grams or more of cocaine is also a first-degree felony, and the minimum penalty is three years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
  • Ecstasy: Possessing 10 grams or more of ecstasy is a first-degree felony, and the minimum penalty is three years’ incarceration and a fine of $50,000.
  • Methamphetamine: Possessing 14 grams or more of meth is considered a first-degree felony, and the minimum sentencing is three years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Drug manufacturing: An individual who is engaged in any activity that is part of the process of making illegal narcotics can be charged with drug manufacturing. This includes possessing plants or raw materials found in the finished narcotic. These charges are pursued very aggressively by the prosecutors in Florida. While penalties may vary greatly, the typical minimum sentencing requirement for a drug manufacturing conviction is three years in prison and a significant fine.

The above are only general guidelines for charges and corresponding penalties. There are seemingly an infinite number of variables that can dictate further charges, penalties and mandatory sentencing requirements. These factors can include the nature of the offense, the amount of drugs involved, your previous criminal history and whether the crime was committed in a restricted area such as a school zone, day care facility or assisted living home.

Did The Police Violate Your Rights Through Illegal Search And Seizure?

The truth is, police do not have complete freedom when it comes to stopping and searching people, their cars or their properties. There must be probable cause of an illegal activity. The problem is that many officers do not respect these laws and cause egregious violations of individuals’ rights in order to “make the case.”

Oftentimes, the criminal drug case against an individual will hinge on the evidence presented by the police, and prosecutors can be reluctant to let this evidence go. However, our lawyers have a complete understanding of the Fourth Amendment rights and know how to create effective arguments for the dismissal of illegally obtained evidence. We are also former prosecutors, so we know how to work with the state’s attorneys to address evidence dismissal within the context of dropped charges and favorable pleas. And when the case calls for it, our lawyers are fully prepared to defend your rights at trial.

A Strong Defense Against Drug Conspiracy Charges

It is unlawful for any person to conspire to commit a drug offense. The elements of a conspiracy to commit a substantive offense (18 U.S.C. Section 371) must allege a specific drug offense.

You can be charged with drug conspiracy regardless of whether the crime is committed. Even if you did not commit the actual crime, you may be charged with the crime and any criminal acts that arise from it, in addition to drug conspiracy. You may face federal and state drug conspiracy charges.

Drug conspiracy may be used by law enforcement to attempt to threaten people with minor roles in a drug crime. Charging small-time dealers or buyers with serious federal drug crimes is a way to gain information or evidence regarding the more valuable suspects.

If you are convicted of conspiring to commit a drug crime, you may face the same penalties as the parties that commit the crime. You may face separate penalties for the drug conspiracy charge. Multiyear prison sentences and fines may be imposed, depending on the details of the offense.

Aggressive Defense Against Manufacturing And Distribution Charges

Florida Statute Section 893.13 prohibits the possession, sale, distribution, manufacture or delivery of controlled substances. Individuals who are arrested with large quantities of controlled substances may be charged with possession as well as manufacturing and distribution. Charges may be filed for activities such as:

  • Operating meth labs
  • Growing marijuana
  • Manufacturing cocaine, crack, LSD, ecstasy or heroin

Depending on the type and amount of drug you are charged with manufacturing or distributing, you may face state or federal charges (21 U.S.C. Sections 841 and 851). Penalties for conviction of a federal charge may include mandatory minimum prison sentences ranging from five years to life. Additional penalties may include fines and probation.

Individuals may also be charged with possessing, distributing or trafficking the chemical components for the manufacture of illegal drugs.

Need A Florida Federal Or State Drug Crime Lawyer?

We provide aggressive criminal defense throughout Florida. The sooner you enlist our services, the more we will be able to do in your defense. To get started, call 813-440-2347 or en español at 813-390-2494, or complete our contact form to schedule your free initial consultation.