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Federal Gun Enhancement Laws

In the State of Florida, carrying or displaying a weapon or firearm in the commission of a drug trafficking offense can result in an enhanced sentence. For example, if a weapon or firearm was used in the commission of the trafficking offense, a third degree felony that would have been punishable by up to five years now exposes the person to 15 years in prison; a second degree felony goes up from 15 years to 30 years; and a first degree felony that is punishable by up to 30 years can become a life sentence.

In general, as if State drug laws weren’t strict enough, the federal government imposes additional restrictions that provide for enhanced penalties in many criminal cases, including when guns are used during any drug offense. Under federal law, any defendant found guilty of using a firearm during a drug crime can be sentenced to five years in prison in addition to any punishment meted out in the drug case. In order to impose the federal gun enhancement, both the underlying drug offense and the additional allegation of using a firearm must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Therefore, it is even more imperative for your Florida defense attorney to look for ways to challenge both the drug charge and the allegation that a weapon or firearm was involved. Your attorney must thoroughly examine whether police had probable cause to search you, analyze all warrants that were served, and challenge the admissibility of all the evidence against you. By having evidence suppressed, successfully challenging the validity of search warrants, or by other means, it may be possible to protect you from the consequences of a drug prosecution and/or the firearms enhancement.

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