Drug Lawyer Fort Lauderdale, FL
Arrested for a Drug Offense in Fort Lauderdale?
Florida law has severe penalties for drug crimes of all types. The amount of the drug, the type of drug, and the circumstances of the arrest will all have a bearing on the charge and penalties you face. Criminal offenses like driving under the influence of drugs, possession of a controlled substance, and the sale/distribution of drugs are all prosecuted with a heavy hand under state law.
Because time is of the essence in any criminal matter, our firm is available days, nights, and weekends to take your call. We encourage you to reach out to our team to discuss the drug charges you face, the penalties involved, and how we can help pursue a defense strategy or diversion options you may have available. We proudly serve clients throughout Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and beyond.
Florida Drug Schedules
Florida Statute 893.03 classifies controlled substances into 5 distinct categories referred to as schedules. Each schedule is distinguished by the severity of the drugs contained within it, with Schedule I consisting of what are considered the most dangerous substances and Schedule V made up of the least dangerous.
Below are the five drug schedules in Florida:
- Schedule I: This group contains substances without an accepted medical use. They are also highly likely to lead to abuse. Examples include heroin, peyote, psilocybin, and MDMA (ecstasy).
- Schedule II: Like Schedule I substances, those in this group have a high potential for abuse. However, unlike the former category, the latter contains drugs with accepted medical use, which is highly restricted and regulated. Additionally, Schedule II drugs can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence. Some of the substances in this classification include, but are not limited to, opium, codeine, morphine, and oxycodone.
- Schedule III: Compared to Schedules I and II, Schedule III substances are less likely to be abused. They have an accepted medical use, and their likelihood of leading to physical or psychological dependence is low. In this group are substances such as anabolic steroids, ketamine, and synthetic THC.
- Schedule IV: The potential for abuse of substances in this group is lower than that for drugs in the previous three schedules. Schedule IV drugs have an accepted medical use and are less likely to cause physical or psychological dependence than Schedule III drugs. Substances in this group include, but are not limited to, materials containing barbital, clonazepam, diazepam, or tramadol.
- Schedule V: Substances in this category have an accepted medical use, and, relative to Schedule IV drugs, the potential for abuse is low. Also, physical or psychological dependence arising from use of them is limited. This group contains products that have small quantities of drugs such as codeine or opium.
Florida Drug Laws
A few drug offenses in Florida include, but are not limited to:
- Selling, manufacturing, or delivering, or possessing with intent to sell illegal drugs
- Purchasing or possessing with intent to purchase
- Delivering controlled substances to a minor
- Bringing a controlled substance into the state
- Possessing a controlled substance
- Trafficking illegal drugs
- Prescription fraud and illegal possession
Whatever charge you’re facing, our Fort Lauderdale drug crimes attorneys are here to assist you. We will guide you through your case, providing the answers you need to understand the allegations against you and your legal options.
What to Do After Being Arrested for a Drug Offense in FL
If you or someone you love has been arrested for a drug crime in Fort Lauderdale, FL – or are currently under investigation for a drug offense – what you do early on in the process can impact your case's trajectory and its outcome. Even seemingly "minor" drug offenses can have serious consequences on your freedom and your future, which is why these charges should never be taken lightly.
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we have extensive experience protecting the rights of clients charged with all types of drug offenses, from simple drug possession to serious felony and federal crimes. During this time, it is important to understand your rights and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your case.
- Exercise your right to remain silent – Whether you are under investigation or have already been charged, it is critical that you understand your right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you against self-incrimination. This means you do not have to speak to law enforcement – it won’t help your case. Instead, you can have an experienced attorney handle communication with police and other law enforcement officials on your behalf.
- Know what’s at stake – It is important to know what’s at stake so you make the most appropriate decisions for yourself, your loved ones, and your future. Drug crimes and their penalties can vary, but they all have the potential to alter your life with financial burdens, probation, imprisonment, and a criminal record that may jeopardize your future. By knowing what’s on the line, you can make sure you don’t fall short in doing all you can to achieve the best possible outcome.
- Know what’s expected of you – Take the time to familiarize yourself with the process ahead, including important court dates. For some accused individuals, there may also be terms that come with being released on your own recognizance. Missing court dates, being charged with new crimes, or violating the terms of release can increase the problems and penalties you face.
- Call a drug crime attorney – Unfortunately, public defenders in Florida are overworked, underpaid, and simply can't dedicate the time your case demands. At Hager & Schwartz, our drug crime lawyers in Fort Lauderdale are available to clients around-the-clock, including nights and weekends, and have over 35 years of experience. Both have served as state prosecutors, which means they have handled these cases from both sides of the courtroom.
Penalties for Drug Crimes in Broward County
A drug crime conviction may result in incarceration and/or fines. However, in some cases, alternative sentencing may be available.
Several factors determine the penalties for drug charges in Florida, including, but not limited to:
- Type of drug
- Amount of the substance
- Location of the offense
A few examples of conviction penalties are as follows:
Trafficking 150 kilograms or more of cocaine and offense results in the
death of another (capital felony):
- Death penalty, or
- Life in prison
Trafficking more than 25 pounds of cannabis (first-degree felony):
- Up to 30 years’ imprisonment and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Manufacturing specific Schedule I controlled substances (second-degree felony):
- Up to 15 years in prison and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Purchasing or possessing with intent to purchase specific Schedule II controlled
substances (third-degree felony):
- Up to 5 years in prison and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
Possessing less than 20 grams of cannabis (first-degree misdemeanor):
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
Possessing a Schedule V controlled substance (second-degree misdemeanor):
- Up to 60 days in jail and/or
- Up to $500 in fines
Alternative Sentencing for Drug Crimes in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Florida can be tough on drug offenders. However, for certain individuals charged with low-priority, non-violent drug crimes, Florida has enacted laws and procedures that offer opportunity and rehabilitation rather than stiff punishment alone.
Recognition of the failed “War on Drugs” and alarming incarceration rates across the U.S. have resulted in sweeping changes to how the judicial system processes and penalizes drug offenders. In Florida, alternative sentencing enables individuals accused of drug crimes to seek help, avoid incarceration, and, in some cases, be free of criminal records that can create unfair limitations.
Types of Alternative Sentencing
Examples of alternative sentencing in Fort Lauderdale include:
- Drug court
- Treatment and counseling
- Probation / supervised release
- Community service
In Lieu of a Defendant in FL
In Broward County, eligible drug offenders may have their sentence withheld in lieu of a defendant successfully complying with court orders that may consist of treatment and/or counseling, paying fees, and community service, among other court orders. For some individuals, successful completion of diversion programs can allow them to avoid a drug-related conviction and criminal record.
Eligibility for Alternative Sentencing in Drug Cases
Although alternative sentencing, counseling, and treatment are available in some cases, they are not guaranteed. It is important to remember that each case is different, and that having an attorney by your side to walk you through the process is crucial to securing the positive outcome you need.
Factors that may play a role in whether alternative sentencing may be an option in your case include:
- The nature of the crime
- The amount and type of drug involved
- A person’s criminal history
- Prior drug convictions
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., our Fort Lauderdale attorneys are former prosecutors who have spent decades working on both sides of the criminal justice system. We have worked with clients from all walks of life. We have seen how the system has evolved to focus on supporting citizens who need help rather than branding them, making their lives more difficult, and perpetuating a cycle that burdens all involved.
Arrested for Illegal Narcotics in Fort Lauderdale?
The type of drug and amount found by law enforcement makes a significant difference in the charges you face. Whether it is cocaine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, methamphetamine, PCP, or illegally obtained legal prescription drugs, the consequences may be severe without a solid defense.
In many cases, overzealous law enforcement officers violate correct procedure, either on search and seizure or during the arrest. A Fort Lauderdale drug crime attorney should carefully review the circumstances of your arrest to help protect yourself against any unwarranted penalties.
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