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Hydrocodone, also known as Norco, Vicodin, or Lortab, is an opioid narcotic prescription drug that doctors prescribe for patients to manage mild or moderate pain or to suppress a cough. It attaches to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord and blocks pain messages from being sent to the brain. However, some people use hydrocodone recreationally and illegally because it induces euphoria. There are significant risks of addiction and overdose. A drug trafficking conviction is severely punished. At Hanlon Law, Tampa hydrocodone trafficking lawyer Will Hanlon believes that the accused have a right to a strong defense, and he is ready to help if you are accused of or are charged with hydrocodone trafficking.


While possessing less than four grams of hydrocodone is a third-degree felony that carries serious consequences upon a conviction, hydrocodone trafficking is an even more serious charge. Four grams of hydrocodone, which is the threshold amount, is equivalent to about seven 10-mg pills, while 14 grams is equivalent to about 22 pills. Many people charged with hydrocodone trafficking in Florida have been arrested for possessing fewer than 30 pills.

In Florida, judges must impose a mandatory minimum prison sentence and substantial fines on people convicted of hydrocodone trafficking under Florida Statute section 893.135(c)(2). Trafficking in hydrocodone occurs if you knowingly buy, sell, manufacture, deliver, transport, or actually or constructively possess 14 grams or more of any mixture that contains hydrocodone.

When hydrocodone is not found directly on you, the prosecutors can proceed on the theory that you “constructively” possessed it. This is harder for prosecutors to prove than actual possession because it requires prosecutors to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs were found not on you but in a place where you had knowledge of the drugs being there, knowledge of their illicit nature, and dominion and control over them. If you had exclusive possession, it is possible to infer these elements, but otherwise, the prosecutor will need to gather affirmative evidence to prove this charge.

A hydrocodone trafficking attorney in Tampa may be able to attack one or more of these elements to weaken the prosecutors’ case and either raise reasonable doubt with a jury or convince the prosecutor that the case is not very strong so that they will dismiss the case or pursue lesser charges.

Amount of HydrocodoneImprisonmentFine
14 – 28 grams3 year minimum$50,000
28 – 50 grams7 year minimum$100,000
50 – 200 grams15 years minimum$500,000
200 grams – 30 kg25 years minimum$750,000

Although these penalties may seem harsh, a judge does not have leeway to provide a lower sentence. An exception is in cases in which you give “substantial assistance” to mitigate the charges and serve as a basis for a downward departure. Substantial assistance usually involves setting up other people on drug trafficking charges that are at least as serious as the charges that you face. It can also entail helping the police identify, arrest, or convict an accomplice, a co-conspirator, a principal, or an accessory.

The prosecutor is the person who makes the motion for substantial assistance, but it is crucial not to assume that giving assistance or informing on others will count as substantial assistance. You should retain an attorney and discuss your options for your defense before discussing the matter in any detail with the police or the prosecutor. You do not want to incriminate yourself without a strong deal in place.


Hydrocodone trafficking is taken very seriously in Florida. In addition to serious legal consequences, such as lengthy imprisonment, there is potential damage to your reputation and other social harm that may arise from a conviction. If you are charged, you should hire a skillful drug crime attorney who can evaluate your particular circumstances and develop a strong strategy to defend you. At Hanlon Law, we are committed to protecting the rights of the accused, and our founder, Will Hanlon, has more than two decades of criminal defense experience. Call Hanlon Law at 813-228-7095 or use our online form to set up an appointment with a Tampa hydrocodone trafficking attorney.