As some of the most common criminal charges in Florida, drug crimes are taken seriously by the state attorneys — even minor drug charges — most often prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If convicted, penalties may range from a pretrial diversion program and probation for a first-time offense to imprisonment and fines up to $750,000 for charges such as trafficking. The long-term effect of a drug-related conviction can be devastating to one’s freedom, finances, and civil rights.
Lawyer for Drug Possession and Trafficking
The possession of a number of controlled substances is regulated or criminalized in Florida. These include both narcotics and pharmaceutical drugs. Some of the most common charges of illegal possession of controlled substances in Central Florida are:
- Possession of Marijuana (Cannabis)
- Possession of Cocaine
- Possession of Heroin
- Possession of Methamphetamine
- Possession of MDMA (“Ecstacy” or “Molly”)
- Possession of GHB (Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate)
- Possession of Hydrocodone
- Possession of Oxycodone
- Possession of Fentanyl
Options for Drug Possession Cases
The state of Florida has created a number of options to help those with substance abuse problems. In some cases, a drug possession charge may be resolved depending on one’s circumstances, the nature of the case, criminal history, and the programs available.
- Pretrial Diversion: A program that is similar to probation, this sentencing alternative requires random drug testing, monthly reporting to a supervising officer, community service, and avoiding any further criminal activity. You must be accepted to, and complete the program successfully, in order to have charges dropped.
- Pretrial Intervention: A program similar to a pretrial diversion, but is managed by the court. It may entail certain requirements to complete the intervention, as well as drug testing/treatment, and avoiding any further criminal activity in order to have the charges dropped.
- Drug Court: These courts can help treat those struggling with a drug addiction with the help of a treatment program that oversees drug testing and monitoring — the goal to break the cycle of substance abuse and recurring crime. Upon successful completion, the charges will be dropped.
Drug Possession Attorney
Defenses to Drug Possession Charges
Depending on the circumstances of your case, a skilled criminal defense attorney can consider a number of defenses to challenge the alleged possession of controlled substances. Some strategies focus on questioning the testimony or evidence of the case, while others scrutinize the procedures followed that led to an arrest. Some common defense strategies are:
- Unlawful Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right to due process of law, which includes lawful search and seizure — if narcotics were not in plain view and obtained without permission or reasonable suspicion to perform a search, the evidence cannot be admitted and charges are typically dismissed.
- Processing and Handling of Evidence: How was the evidence processed? Was there a lab analysis that confirmed the drugs found were indeed illegal drugs? Does the evidence still exist — can the prosecution produce the evidence?
- “The drugs aren’t mine:” It sounds simple to say you didn’t do it, but can the prosecution prove that the drugs are yours and didn’t belong to another person present at the time of arrest?
- Legal Possession: The pharmaceutical drugs are legally prescribed, or in some cases, holding a medical marijuana card or signed doctor’s recommendation in states that permit the use of medical marijuana.
Penalties for a Drug Possession Conviction
The penalty for drug possession is determined by the type and amount of controlled substance found in your possession:
- Possession of Marijuana: Up to 20 grams is a first-degree misdemeanor with up to one year in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine. Over 20 grams is a third-degree felony with up to 5 years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.
- Possession of Heroin, LSD, Ecstacy: These and other Schedule I drugs are punishable by up to 30 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000, when charged with possession of more than 10 grams as a felony of the first degree.
- Possession of Cocaine, Oxycodone, Fentanyl any other Schedule II–V Drug: A third-degree felony with up to 5 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Florida Drug Possession Defense Attorney
Intent to Sell, Sale, or Delivery of Drugs and Drug Trafficking
Possession of larger amounts of a controlled substance may result in charges of possession with the intent to sell or even drug trafficking. The sale and delivery of drugs, or drug dealing, is where evidence —direct or circumstantial — shows the intent to distribute drugs to another.
Circumstantial evidence may include:
- A large quantity of a narcotic (more than personal use)
- Distribution paraphernalia like a scale or plastic bags
- Large amounts of cash
- A ledger that records alleged drug transactions
An example of direct evidence is selling a controlled substance to an officer, an informant, or another individual working with a law enforcement agency.
Drug Trafficking in Florida is defined as any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, transports into the state, or possesses an amount of a controlled substance as defined by the Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Florida statute:
- Cannabis : 25 lbs. or more
- Cannabis Plants: 300 or more
- Cocaine: 28 grams or more
- Heroin: 4 grams or more
- LSD: 1 gram or more
- Fentanyl: 4 grams or more
- GHB: 1 kilogram or more
- MDMA (Ecstacy): 10 grams or more
- Oxycodone: 7 grams or more
- Methamphetamine: 14 grams or more
These are the minimum amounts specified by law to charge someone with drug trafficking. The penalties become more severe as the quantity of drugs increases.
Attorney for Drug Dealing or Trafficking Charges
Penalties for a Drug Trafficking Conviction
The state of Florida has mandatory minimum sentences and fines if convicted for trafficking — varying depending on the quantity of illegal drugs. Again, these are minimum sentences, so it’s important to hire an attorney who can build a defense strategy or work with the prosecutor before a conviction and sentencing; otherwise, a judge will be bound to law in these sentencing minimums:
Not only are the penalties severe, but you may also face probation and civil penalties — the government may seize your home, vehicles, or money if they believe it is related to drug trafficking.
A felony conviction in Florida also results in a loss of civil rights, meaning that you will not be able to vote, hold public office, sit on a jury, or possess a firearm.
Attorney for Drug Dealing or Trafficking Charges
Definitions and penalties on this page are partial summaries of the 2018 Florida Statutes regarding drug abuse prevention and control. Read the full statute.