Florida drug laws allow for harsh penalties and fines across the state. Depending on the specific charges, the outcome can vary severely.
Understanding Florida drug laws is the first step in preparation for dealing with our criminal justice system when faced with a possession charge. Know that there are differences between state and federal laws regarding drug charges. Typically, a federal charge has even tougher penalties.
If you are facing a drug possession charge, having an experienced criminal defense attorney is key to achieving the best outcome when dealing with Florida drug possession laws that can have a major impact on your future.
What Constitutes Drug Possession in the State of Florida?
A drug possession charge typically occurs when law enforcement officials decide that the drugs are likely intended for personal use – not for an intent to sell, distribute, or manufacture. A conviction of drug possession can be difficult because the prosecutor in the case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had knowledge of and was in control of the controlled substance.
There are two types of possession in Florida:
Actual Possession– when the controlled substance is found on the individual’s body, such as in the mouth, in skin folds, or in clothing or shoes
Constructive Possession – when the controlled substance is found elsewhere, such as in the defendant’s vehicle or homestead
Penalties in the State of Florida for Violating Drug Possession Laws
The penalties for getting convicted of drug possession will vary depending upon what the controlled substance is and whether or not it is a first-time possession charge in Florida.
Here is a basic overview of the penalties for conviction of a violation of Florida drug laws based on the type of controlled substance:
Marijuana — no mandatory minimum sentence for possessing up to 20 grams; misdemeanor charge; maximum penalty of up to 1 year in prison; up to $1,000 in fines
Cocaine — no mandatory minimum sentence for possessing up to 28 grams; potential third-degree felony charge; maximum penalty of up to five years in prison; up to $5,000 in fines
Ecstasy — no mandatory minimum sentence for possessing up to 10 grams; potential third-degree felony charge; maximum penalty of up to five years in prison; up to $5,000 in fines
Methamphetamine — no mandatory minimum sentence; potential third-degree felony; maximum penalty of up to five years in prison; up to $5,000 in fines
If a greater quantity of controlled substances or if the chemicals to make controlled substances such as methamphetamine, ecstasy, or GHB are found and determined to be in your possession, the penalties are often much greater. This can include:
- First-Degree Felony
- Second-Degree Felony
- Up to 30 years in prison for First Degree Felony
- Up to 15 years in prison for Second Degree Felony
- Up to $10,000 in fines
The penalties for violating Florida drug laws can be very serious if it is a first-time possession charge and even more harsh if an individual has previous criminal charges on their record. It is advised to consult with a Clearwater criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Additional factors that can affect particular charges and subsequent penalties include the nature of the offense, if there were any violent actions or firearms involved, and if you were in a restricted area in possession of the drugs, such as a daycare or assisted living facility or in a school zone.
Possible Defenses for Possession Charges
A Clearwater criminal defense attorney may use a variety of defenses for a possession charge. This will depend on the details of your case. When you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney, they will thoroughly examine the details of the case and determine the appropriate strategy for your defense.
Strategies Utilized for a Possession Charge include but are not limited to:
- Fourth Amendment right violations regarding compliance with search and seizure rules
- Drugs were planted in the defendant’s vehicle or home
- The defendant was unaware that the drugs were in their vehicle or home
- Challenges to the credibility or professionalism of the crime lab
- The defendant had a lack of knowledge that the drugs that were found were a controlled substance
It is critical to work with an attorney with deep expertise in Florida drug laws. They will understand how to choose and execute the best strategy for your case.
What You Should Do if You are Facing Charges in Violation of Florida Drug Laws
When you are faced with criminal charges, it can be quite daunting and even scary. In addition to potential prison times, expensive fines, and getting a criminal record if convicted, you may also be facing a suspension of your driver’s license, and probation, and could be ineligible for applying to certain jobs, housing, and financial aid for school. Personal lives are also often very affected.
Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The attorney will act as your legal advocate and fight hard for your rights throughout the process to obtain the best outcome possible.
Understand that you do not have to speak to law enforcement until you speak to a lawyer. These are your Miranda rights and should be taken very seriously. The police officers will urge you to talk, but anything that you do say can be used against you in a court of law.
Contact the Law Office of Dean Tsourakis
Dean Tsourakis is a Clearwater criminal defense attorney with decades of experience in criminal law and has a comprehensive understanding of Florida drug laws and defense strategies.
He understands the consequences of a conviction for a drug possession charge and works diligently on behalf of his clients. He fights for justice and fairness and leads as your legal advocate to ensure your rights are not being violated.
Take action quickly and get representation to get the best possible results.
Contact the Law Office of Dean Tsourakis at 727-785-2700 today to schedule an appointment or simply fill out our form online.on Sep 7, 2020