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What is the difference between drug possession and trafficking?

While drug crimes of any sort are serious charges, the different types of offenses can be a challenge to understand. What the substance was, how much of it was found on the person, items found during the search procedures and any statements made by the defendant can all have an impact on the charges and, therefore, the possible penalties.

In Florida, many cases of simple drug possession are misdemeanors that are dealt with at the state level. While these crimes can still carry possible jail time or fines, those possible consequences are not as severe as those associated with charges of drug trafficking or distribution.

Being accused of drug trafficking is a felony offense. The prosecutors in these cases are often known for aggressively trying these cases, and there may also be minimum sentencing requirements. This means that even if it is the defendant's first offense, a conviction can mean years in prison and the judge would have no say in any sentence alternatives.

Because of the seriousness of these charges and the possible penalties, defendants can benefit from experienced legal representation throughout the court process. There are many different defense options for cases involving drug crimes — from challenging the evidence or even the legitimacy of the search and seizure process. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible after the initial arrest helps ensure that the defendant's right are protected and that he or she is making decisions with a thorough understanding of the options and possible consequences.

Source: FindLaw, "Drug Trafficking/Distribution" accessed Mar. 06, 2015

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