Fort Lauderdale Florida contains a large seaport called Port Everglades. In addition to its legitimate uses for shipping and cruise ships, is also a known point of entry for cocaine that is seized by authorities as well as the illegal drug trade. The sunshine state has a long history with the drug, due to its proximity to Colombia and other parts of Central American where the shipments originate. Despite the widespread availability of cocaine, being charged with crimes related to the drug in Florida carries some serious penalties.
Coast Guard brings several tons of confiscated cocaine into Fort Lauderdale
A U.S. Coast Guard vessel arrived at Port Everglades with more than seven tons of cocaine, which has an estimated street value of over $200 million. The drugs were intercepted in various recent missions near the coasts of Mexico, Central, and South America. Commanding Officers from these missions had stated that smugglers are getting more creative by using vessels that are difficult to spot in the vast oceans, however recent efforts have still been successful. The joint operation included several different agencies besides the Coast Guard such as the U.S. Navy, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and DEA. This mission was believed to have a significant impact on the drug trade due to the sheer amount of cocaine that is no longer in possession of the traffickers and the lost profits that will result.
Possession of cocaine is a felony in the state of Florida. This means punishments from a plea bargain or sentence related to the charge can include over one year in prison. Because of the severity of these sentences, it is important to have the right legal help and gain some basic information about possible defenses. Having a criminal record for drug crimes can also affect future employment opportunities and appear in background checks, which can be even more damaging over time than the initial sentence.
Defenses against possession
Because there are a number of high crime areas in South Florida, police departments may not always send the right witnesses to court, or officers may have other more pressing commitments. There are strategic ways a criminal defense lawyer can determine if the state will be able to prove the case with the right people or if the case is lacking because of the availability of crucial witnesses or other kinds of evidence.
In drug cases, there are often issues of constructive possession, which means that the narcotics may have been found with several people nearby, and they are all charged. These cases can be difficult for prosecutors, because they need to prove possession beyond all reasonable doubt for each person who they expect to convict. In a case where there are multiple possible suspects with only circumstantial evidence of possession, this may not be easy to do.
The drugs also need to be properly stored by the relevant police department. If they are lost or there is an incomplete chain of custody from the time they were confiscated until the trial, the state may not be able to introduce them as evidence.
While this is just a brief overview, it is important to realize that there are ways to have charges for cocaine possession reduced, dropped, or dismissed. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows about these issues and others that may be related to your case.
A local lawyer can give more specific information
If you have been charged with cocaine possession or any other drug crimes in the Fort Lauderdale area, please contact Gabriela C. Novo for help. Gabriela is a former Broward County prosecutor, so she knows exactly what the state will do to try to prove a case against you and how to defend against their accusations.