Posted On: July 4, 2009 by Jim Jenkins

Controlled Substances-Mere Possession can be Trafficking

23897_53061049.jpgIn the State of Florida, Pensacola all the way down to Miami, the mere possession of certain controlled substances , even in very small amounts can carry trafficking minimum mandatory prison sentences. This brief articles addresses the tremendously horrendous penalties associated with the simple possession a class of narcotic drugs, hydrocodone. These includes well known, generic and inexpensive mid to mild pain killers Lortabs, Percocet, Darvocet. The possession of these drugs in Florida state court is far more serious that in any federal court through out the entire county. At the end of the second part of this brief article minimum mandatories for possession of other drugs, such as cocaine, are discussed.

The reasons why possession of hydrocodone, a.k.a. Lortab, Percocet, Darvocet, etc., is because several years ago the Florida Legislature amended Chapter 893, the drug statute in Florida, and enhanced the possession of hydrocodone from a schedule III drug to a Schedule II drug. What happens in the cases of Class II drugs is that not only the inert “illegal” ingredient of the drug will be factored into the equation of the weight of the drug but the “filler” or other compounds or ingredients mixed in with the inert or narcotic ingredient will be added into the total weight of the pill. So, for example, in Lortabs, or hydrocodone, which consists primarily of acetaminophen, the same ingredient that makes up Tylenol, an over the counter pain medication, will be used in the total weight calculation.

What this means is that possession of more than six tablets of Lortab is a three year minimum prison sentence, possession of thirty of these pills is a fifteen-year minimum mandatory and possession of a 100 of Lortabs without prescription is a twenty-five year minimum mandatory! These mandatories do not apply to only those who sell, deliver or give Lortabs or hydrocone to other people. The mere possession of these quantities is trafficking!! So, for example, the friend who gives a buddy six Lortab 10s not only is “trafficking” because the friend had an acute injury and is in pain, will also be guilty of a three year minimum mandatory by merely possessing the drug!

The legislature has made mere possession of one of the most widely used mild-mid level pain killers, hydrocodone or Lortabs, a mandatory prison sentence if you have only six tablets! I recently had a personal injury case I handled where the pain doctor in Pensacola regularly prescribes 120 of the pills on a monthly basis to some of his pain patients who suffered a back injury in a car wreck. The patient, a young man in his 30s, didn’t like the way they made him feel so he gave them to a co-worker friend of his who was obese and had painful arthritis in his knees and hips. This law means the fellow in pain would be looking at 25 years in prison if arrested by merely possessing these drugs! Hard to believe but true!

The policy behind the legislature moving hydrocodone to a Class II drug from a Class III drug is Class II drugs are more addictive in nature that Class III. For example, cocaine is Class II drug. Diet pills are Class III or Class IV drugs and the “mixture of other substances” and not added to the controlled substance and are not counted in the total weight calculation.

Travesties are occurring around Florida when first time offenders are arrested with a small number of these drugs and receive long minimum mandatory prison sentences. The only way the law is going to change is for the legislature to reclassify hydrocodone to a Class III drug. But being realistic, how many politicians, politics being what they are, are going to want to sponsor a bill making possession of a narcotic drug less severe? Some will one day, when one of their constituents, or one of their loved ones or family members gets ensnared by this terrible law.

See Pensacola Criminal Defense Attorney Jim Jenkins Website for any further information about these types of drug related crimes or others.

Cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and other Class II and Class I narcotics all carry various miniminum mandatory prison sentences if someone merely possesses a certain amount of the drug, even if it is for personal use. For instance, some cocaine users, who have the funds, prefer to purchase one ounce (28.4 grams) of cocaine at one time from their drug dealer so they don't have to take the risks of making multiple trips to the dealers house, carrying the illegal substance in their car, etc. The mere possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine, regardless of the purity of the cocaine, in Florida turns the offense into a three year minimum mandatory prison sentence. What this means is the judge, if a person is convicted, must impose three years of state prison time regardless whether it is the offender's first offense and even if the criminal code score sheet (sentencing guidelines used by the Courts) call for less than three years of incarceration for this quantity of cocaine. If you are interested in the topic of minimum mandatories you may want to visit Families Against Minimum Mandatories, a group of people who's loved ones have been incarcerated for ridiculously long periods of time in state and federal court because of overly harsh minimum mandatory state and federal laws throughout the nation. Many judges, both federal and state, are outspoken about the harshness of these politically charged laws.

Comments

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I wonder if the state of FL ever did a study to find out which drug, hydrocodone or ALCHOHOL, causes the highest statistical incident/s of death,destruction, and general mayhem. My bet is Alcohol by far, oh, but it's LEGAL, thus sanctioned and taxed by the state. Yet, FL citizens want to utilize state resources to lock some kid up for a minimum of three years because he's in possession of a few "pain pills," logical? I think NOT.

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What a rediculous law!!!! I've seen murderers do 5 or less years!!! That's whats wrong with our nation today. We send small time drug users to prison and make them big time criminals in the future because they cant get jobs with a record. Violent criminals and sex offenders is what they need to be focussed on!!! Not someone with a normal life that takes a couple of lortabs now and then because they have pain or don't like the feeling of alcohol!!!

My wife received 3yrs, for lortab Rx refills. unable to receive gain time, or sentense modification she also had never been in trouble in her life. Her cell mate actually sold to undercover officer and will be out after serving only 85% of her time. She also had been on probation for same. How is this justice?

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Is this "hydrocodone" law still in effect? Unbelievable! I am a Mother of 4 and in 1998 I was set up in a Reverse DEA Sting. My "friend" handed me & my friend 100 vicodin and the DEA Swooped in and surrounded me & my friend. Turns out my "friend" had been working for the DEA to reduce her sentence. We had no idea what we were about to face....25 years minimum prison sentence and our bond was 1/2 million $$!! Well after a stressful year of court, our sentence became 2 years house arrest, 6 months inpatient drug treatment, 10 years probation, community service and fines. By the way this was my first offense, I was 29. Now I have 2 felonies on my record.."trafficking and conspiracy to traffick". Lord be, I was on pins & needles for 10 yrs...because a violation of probation in Florida is a no bond offense and I live in Illinois, so that means extradition!! I almost got charged with an open container at our block party!! I thought I was gonna die. But I made it thru the 12 year process. Am just embarassed that I can't vote and with the internet, my kids may know that I have drug felonies. This law must be wiped off the books! It's cruel & unusual punishment...25 years in prison...unbelievable.

I think it is good that these drugs are controlled, but I do not agree when people really need medicines like hydrocodone for pain from chronic illness, as they help to maintain an appropriate way to sick patients, which itself must guard against is that as states findrxonline these drugs may cause some disorder due to side effects that each conveys.

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