Drug Trafficking and Conspiracy
Drug trafficking is merely the possession of a specified amount of illegal drugs. Unfortunately, proof of this specified amount of drugs requires a minimum mandatory sentence in both state and federal courts. Attorney Jonathan Rose provides aggressive representation to each one of his clients in Orlando, throughout Florida, and nationwide.
In Florida state court, a judge must sentence an individual convicted of trafficking in 28 grams, or one ounce, of cocaine to a minimum three year prison sentence, $50,000 fine, and other sanctions, including a one year driver’s license suspension. In federal court, a judge must sentence an individual convicted of possessing 500 grams of powder cocaine to a minimum five years of prison, to be followed by a mandatory term of supervised release. The sentences increase as the amount of drugs increases.
Drug trafficking is frequently charged in a conspiracy. The law on conspiracy can be confusing, as people with very different levels of responsibility can be convicted of the same crime and be held responsible for the same quantity of drugs. Prosecutors use conspiracy charges because they are relatively easy to prove.
Proof of a Conspiracy
Essentially, the Government has to prove just two things. First, they must prove that two people (not including Government informants or agents) made an agreement, regardless of how informal, to break the law. Second, they must prove that just one of them took some substantial step to achieve the object of the conspiracy.
In order to understand a conspiracy charge, it is important to understand that the crime does not need to be completed, or even be possible. The government is not required to have actual drugs, money, or other physical evidence. In a conspiracy charge, the agreement is being prosecuted. Not the crime itself.
Defenses and Strategies
Despite the obvious difficulties, Jonathan Rose has successfully defended hundreds of conspiracy charges in both Florida and Federal courts. Defense strategies include dismissal, suppression, entrapment, constructive possession, informant discreditation, multiple conspiracy defenses, and other defenses that depend on the specific facts of each case.
In Florida state court, a judge can dismiss a case if both the defense and prosecution agree on what the facts of the case are, but the facts are not sufficient to prove the charges. This can be an effective strategy in many drug cases, either during trial or before the trial begins. No such rule exists in Federal court, but Jonathan Rose has nonetheless been successful in securing dismissals in multiple drug conspiracy cases at the federal level.
If the police obtained evidence in violation of your 4th Amendment rights (illegal search) or 5th Amendment rights (illegal interrogation), you may be able to suppress the evidence that the Government would use against you. This means that your lawyer asks the court to find that the evidence was obtained illegally, and, as such, cannot be used against you. Jonathan Rose has been successful in suppressing evidence in numerous drug trafficking and possession cases, resulting in the dismissal of all charges against those clients.
Entrapment is a practice in which a law enforcement agent (either an actual officer or a government informant) induces a person to commit a criminal offense that the person would have otherwise been unlikely to commit. Entrapment is a defense used during trial, and while difficult to establish, may be an excellent defense in a scenario where the government presents an unlawful opportunity to an otherwise law abiding individual.
The government is not required to prove that you own any drugs or contraband you’ve been charged with possessing. They must only prove that you possessed what you were charged with.
Possession of an object may be actual or constructive. An example of actual possession is a bag of marijuana being in your pants or on a table directly in front of you and in your view. However, constructive possession occurs when an item is not physically on a person and not directly in a person’s view. In this scenario, the government must prove that the person charged has both knowledge of the presence of the marijuana and the ability to control it. This is very common in drug cases and is frequently an excellent defense, depending on the facts of the individual case.
In most conspiracy cases, at least one witness who was a part of the conspiracy will testify against the defendant in trial. This witness may be an informant who was believed to be a co-conspirator by other defendants, or it may be a co-conspirator who chooses to testify against his co-defendants in return for a lenient sentence.
In these cases, there is frequently a wealth of information to confront the testifying witness with, including his bias against the person going to trial, and his motivation for testifying in such a manner.
In Florida state court, it may be possible to force the Government to identify the informant before trial. Jonathan Rose has been successful with this strategy in numerous drug possession and trafficking cases.
Because conspiracies are seldom tightly knit, formalized organizations, there are frequently multiple conspiracies occurring at the same time. In these instances, the Government’s proof must match the conspiracy they have charged. Also, there are instances in which the defendant is accused of being a participant in a larger conspiracy, when, in fact, he or she was a conspirator with only one person. While this may not result in a complete acquittal, it may decrease the client’s criminal liability, and therefore the sentence, considerably.
To learn more about the firm’s services in this area of law, please request an initial consultation. Call 407-894-4555, or contact the Orlando office via email at [email protected]