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Trafficking and Conspiracy to Traffic

Drug trafficking cases can include a conspiracy to traffic element. In Florida a conspiracy to engage in trafficking is committed when any person agrees, conspires combines, confederates, etc with another person to commit any act prohibited by section 893.135. Generally conspiracies are punished the same as the actual crime charged, such as trafficking, except that they are scored one level lower for purposes of the score sheet. 

Recently the Fifth District Court of Appeal in the case of Hampton v. State broadly interpreted the words “any act” in the context of a trafficking conspiracy. This case stemmed from a co-conspirator having to work off charges instead of a mere traffic stop.  The Defendant argued that he could not be convicted of trafficking in cocaine because he and the co-conspirator did not agree to commit the same act. The Court had previously ruled that in a buy-sell transaction, this position was correct that there was no agreement to commit the same act and that it would be forced to reverse.

However, the Court receded from its prior ruling and instead held both the buyer and the seller agreed to commit the same offense of trafficking. The Court further stated that trafficking in cocaine is an offense that can be committed in a variety of ways; thus, the buyer and seller were, in fact, agreeing to commit the same crime of trafficking, albeit in different ways, one by purchasing, and the other by selling. Therefore, the Court concluded that evidence of a buy-sell agreement is sufficient to establish a prima facie case of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine.

The dissent pointed out that the parties in a buy-sell arrangement are actually on opposite sides, negotiating against each other and are therefore not agreeing to commit the same act.  Further the dissent argued that the rule of liently should have been applied.  Perhaps the Supreme Court will pick this one up.

Drug trafficking cases can be complex, time consuming matters with several witnesses, surveillance, and mandatory minimums applied. If you or a loved on is accused of trafficking in cocaine, marijuana, oxycodone, or any other narcotic, please click or call now for a consultation with a lawyer.

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