Florida Court Explains Predicate Offenses for Career Offender Status

Under federal sentencing guidelines, the courts have the authority to impose increased penalties on people deemed career offenders. Only certain offenses qualify for the purposes of determining whether a person is a career offender, though. In a recent drug trafficking case arising in a Florida district court, the court clarified the criteria for a career offender. If you are charged with a drug crime in Tampa, it is in your best interest to speak to a Tampa drug crime defense attorney about your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and convicted of conspiracy to manufacture, possession with intent to distribute, and distribution of crack cocaine, as well as possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The trial court imposed an enhanced sentence on the defendant due to the fact that he was considered a career offender based on previous felony convictions for crimes of violence or controlled substance offenses.

Allegedly, the defendant appealed, arguing that the court failed to consider the impact of United States v. Dupree on his sentence. The government was directed to respond, and the defendant had the opportunity to reply. The government filed a Response in Opposition, but the defendant did not file a reply within the given time.

Predicate Offenses for Career Offender Status

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court noted that the presentence report confirmed that the defendant met the criteria for a career offender. The court explained that under the ruling in Dupree, a conspiracy conviction for possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine does not qualify as a controlled substance offense. Despite this, in the present case, the conspiracy charge was accompanied by a substantive offense of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, rendering Dupree’s impact irrelevant to the legality of the sentence.

The court also addressed the defendant’s claim that a prior Florida felony drug conviction does not meet the definition of a controlled substance offense for career offender status. Specifically, the court stated that the sale of a controlled substance, as per Florida law, is considered a controlled substance offense under federal guidelines, regardless of the specific sentence imposed. Therefore, the court denied the defendant’s motion to alter or amend the judgment, as neither the impact of Dupree nor the defendant’s prior conviction affected the legality of the sentence.

Consult an Experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Drug crimes carry heavy penalties, especially if the person charged with a drug offense has prior convictions for crimes of violence or drug trafficking offenses. If you are accused of a drug-related crime, it is essential to retain the assistance of an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Tampa lawyers of Hanlon Law have ample experience helping criminal defendants seek favorable outcomes in drug crime cases, and if we represent you, we will fight to help you protect your interests. You can contact Hanlon Law by using the form online or by calling us at 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.