Should You Provide “Substantial Assistance” to Reduce Your Drug Trafficking Offense?
A conviction for a drug offense can have lifelong consequences. Unfortunately, in Florida, there are many ways an individual can be convicted of a drug trafficking offense because Florida’s drug trafficking crimes are prosecuted based upon the amount of drugs in an individual’s possession. This means an individual can face trafficking charges regardless of whether they had the intent to sell, move, or make the drugs. One way to combat and mitigate sentences for these charges is by providing “substantial assistance” to law enforcement on drug crimes.
What Constitutes Drug Trafficking?
First, it’s important to understand what constitutes drug trafficking. At the state level, drug trafficking involves the selling, transporting, or manufacturing of a wide range of controlled substances or marijuana. State penalties for drug trafficking depend on the schedule and amount of those drugs, as well as where they are being transported. Many even carry mandatory minimum sentences, and if you are charged with drug trafficking and have a prior felony conviction, you face enhanced sentencing.
Federal drug trafficking laws apply if the crime involves moving controlled substances across state borders, throughout the state, or into the state from a foreign country. Federal charges are typically more severe than state charges, impose substantial fines, and can even result in a sentence of life in prison.
What is “Substantial Assistance”?
Sometimes it is possible to get the state to agree to reduce or suspend a drug trafficking sentence if the individual agrees to help the state combat drug related offenses. Florida statute section 921.186 provides that “the state attorney may move the sentencing court to reduce or suspend the sentence of any person who is convicted of violating any felony offense and who provides substantial assistance in the identification, arrest, or conviction of any of that person’s accomplices, accessories, co conspirators, or principals or of any other person engaged in criminal activity that would constitute a felony. … The judge  may reduce or suspend the sentence if the judge finds that the defendant rendered such substantial assistance.” In layman’s terms, this may look like tipping off law enforcement about drug deals, identifying drug dealers, or wearing a wire in a sting operation.
Are There Drawbacks to Providing Substantial Assistance?
At the outset, it is important to know that while there are benefits to providing substantial assistance, such as avoiding going to jail, providing substantial assistance may place yourself or your loved ones in danger due to the nature of the activity. Before you agree to provide substantial assistance, it is imperative you talk with an experienced drug crimes attorney to determine if you should even consider taking this step.
What Do I Do if I Am Charged With Drug Trafficking?
If you are charged with drug trafficking, it is imperative you contact an experienced drug crimes attorney as quickly as possible. The attorneys at Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC have a firm belief that everyone accused of a drug crime is innocent until proven guilty and are prepared to defend you to the fullest extent. You have many options, depending on the weight of the evidence against you, and it is important you have the opportunity to understand all of them. Contact Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC today to discuss your options.
Posted in: Drug Crimes