Possession or trafficking of cocaine is a felony in Florida. If you are convicted of cocaine possession or trafficking, you could face a lengthy prison sentence, significant fines, and a criminal record that could impact your life forever. That's why you need to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale drug defense lawyer to discuss your rights and potential defenses.
Four Possible Defenses to Cocaine Charges
There are several defenses that a defendant can use to fight possession of cocaine charges in Florida. Some of these defenses include:
Unlawful Search and Seizure
In cocaine possession and trafficking cases, the issue of unlawful search and seizure often arises as a potential defense. Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 12 of the Florida Constitution, individuals are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that law enforcement officers must obtain a warrant or have probable cause before conducting a search or seizing property.
To determine whether a search or seizure was lawful, the court will consider various factors, such as whether:
- You had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area searched
- Law enforcement had a warrant or probable cause to conduct the search
- The search was conducted in a reasonable manner
If law enforcement obtained evidence during an unlawful search or seizure, your drug defense lawyer could file a motion to suppress the evidence. If the court grants the motion, the evidence will be excluded from trial, which can significantly weaken the prosecution's case.
Lack of Knowledge
Under Florida law, the prosecution must prove you knowingly possessed or trafficked cocaine. Knowingly possessing or trafficking cocaine means that you had actual knowledge of the cocaine and its illegal nature.
It is important to note that ignorance of the law is not a defense to criminal charges. However, a lack of knowledge of the illegal nature of the substance in question can be a valid defense in some cases.
You must prove to the court that you had no knowledge or reason to know that you were possessing or trafficking cocaine. For example, if you were given a package by a friend and had no reason to suspect that it contained cocaine, your drug defense attorney may be able to argue that you lacked the knowledge required for a conviction.
A lack of knowledge defense may be more difficult to assert in trafficking cases, as the defendant is presumed to have knowledge of the drug's presence and illegal nature if they are found to be trafficking a large amount of the substance.
Duress is a legal defense to criminal conduct. To assert a successful duress defense, you must show that you were under immediate threat of physical harm or death and that the threat was of such a nature that a reasonable person would have been compelled to commit the crime.
In the context of cocaine possession or trafficking charges, a duress defense might arise in situations where you were forced to transport or sell drugs under threat of violence or harm. For example, suppose you were kidnapped and threatened with physical violence unless you transported a shipment of cocaine. In that case, you might be able to assert a duress defense to avoid criminal liability.
It is important to note that the duress defense is not available if you voluntarily placed yourself in a situation where you were threatened with harm. Additionally, the defendant must not have had a reasonable opportunity to avoid the threat other than by committing the crime.
Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officers persuade someone to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. To successfully assert an entrapment defense in Florida, you must prove that:
- You were convinced to commit the crime by law enforcement officials.
- You were not predisposed to committing the crime before law enforcement acted.
- Law enforcement action was the sole cause of your decision to possess or traffic cocaine.
How a Florida Drug Defense Lawyer Can Help You
Cocaine possession sentences are severe, and your future is at stake. You have the right to raise every legal defense that applies to your situation. Our Fort Lauderdale criminal defense firm will gather evidence, thoroughly review every aspect of your case, and raise all possible cocaine possession and trafficking defenses to make sure that your rights and future are protected.