Using a Minor in the Act of Drug Trafficking: What to Know If You’re Accused

Drug trafficking in Florida is considered a first-degree felony. A state conviction for this crime carries severe penalties. A suspect who is additionally charged with using a minor – someone who is 18 years or younger – in the act of drug trafficking may face additional charges such as child abuse. Drug charges, including drug trafficking of any controlled substance, may be filed at the state or federal level.

A Look at Sentencing in a Drug Trafficking Case

Florida drug laws call for minimum mandatory penalties in the event of a drug trafficking conviction involving any controlled substance, including painkillers like Oxycodone. Penalties vary – depending on the type of drugs involved, the amount of drugs in possession and the suspect’s previous criminal history – but almost always include imprisonment and fines.

Federal drug laws – enforced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – outline recommended jail sentences and fines for those convicted of drug trafficking. The involvement of a minor/child in the crime would impact the severity of the sentence dependent upon all other factors of the state or federal charges.

Title 21 of the United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act, outlines penalties not only for distribution or manufacture of drugs near schools or colleges; it addresses employing children to distribute drugs near schools or playgrounds. Under this law, fines and imprisonment under Title 21 of USC Section 841 may be tripled for such crimes.

Florida Sentencing Guidelines for Felony Crimes 

In Florida, a first-degree felony carries as much as 30 years imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines. Second-degree felonies (such as certain types of child abuse) can carry as much as 15 years in jail time and up to $10,000 fines. However, the state’s minimum penalties for drug trafficking convictions are even stricter and can carry up to $500,000 in fines and minimum prison sentences of 25 years or more depending on the substance and quantity involved. 

An Overview of Drug Laws in Florida

In the 1980s, Florida was awash in illegal narcotics and controlled substances like cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. State authorities responded by establishing strict penalties for the possession or distribution of controlled substances.

In the passing years, Florida drug laws have been rewritten more strictly and they remain some of the most severe in the country. In addition to cocaine and marijuana, authorities now seek to control drug trafficking by the distribution of “controlled prescription drugs” which they have identified as “the primary drug threat to the region” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

An Overview of Child Abuse and Endangerment Laws in Florida

Child endangerment laws are covered under the state’s child abuse and neglect laws. Child abuse laws in Florida include any “intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical or mental injury to a child.”

Florida’s child abuse and neglect laws do not explicitly cite drug trafficking as a form of child abuse or neglect, but authorities may argue that enlisting a minor in an illegal act would fall under the aforementioned guidelines.

Mental injury in this case is defined as any act that could impact a child’s intellectual or psychological state to that point of failing to function inside the “normal range” of performance. Child abuse may be charged as a first-or second-degree felony, depending on the nature of the abuse and the outcome to the child.

A person who has been charged with enlisting a minor or child in the act of drug trafficking may wish to contact a defense attorney who has experience trying drug trafficking cases. Call 877-663-5110.