Fort Lauderdale Drug Charge Lawyer
Arrested for a Drug Offense in Broward County, FL?
If you find yourself facing drug-related charges in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the experienced legal team at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. is here to protect your rights and fight for your future. 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.
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. Because time is of the essence in any criminal matter, the Fort Lauderdale drug crime lawyers from Hager & Schwartz, P.A. are available days, nights, and weekends to take your call. We proudly serve clients throughout Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and beyond.
Types of Drug Crimes We Handle
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we have a proven track record of success in defending clients accused of involvement with the possession, manufacture, sale, or distribution of various controlled substances.
Our drug crime practice areas encompass a wide range of substances, including:
- Prescription Drugs
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
- Drug paraphernalia
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/distribute 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 attorneys at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. are well-versed in the intricacies of Florida drug laws and will work diligently to seek the best possible outcome for your case. We will explore every available legal option, challenge evidence, and negotiate with prosecutors to secure the most favorable resolution.
Drug Crime Penalties in Broward County
Florida Statute F.S. 893.13 outlines the penalties for drug-related offenses in the state. These penalties can vary depending on factors such as the type and quantity of drugs involved, prior convictions, and the specific details of the alleged offense.
The penalties for drug crimes in Florida can range from fines and probation to lengthy prison sentences. In some cases, mandatory minimum sentences may apply. Additionally, a drug conviction can have a lasting impact on your life, affecting employment opportunities, housing, and more.
Below is a general overview of the potential penalties for drug crimes in Florida:
1. Possession of Controlled Substances:
- First-Degree Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in county jail and fines up to $1,000.
- Third-Degree Felony: Up to 5 years in state prison and fines up to $5,000.
- Second-Degree Felony: Up to 15 years in state prison and fines up to $10,000.
2. Sale, Delivery, or Manufacturing of Controlled Substances:
- Penalties vary depending on the type and quantity of drugs involved but can range from third-degree felonies to first-degree felonies.
- Convictions for trafficking in controlled substances can result in mandatory minimum sentences, which can be very severe.
3. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia:
- First-degree misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in county jail and fines up to $1,000.
4. Trafficking in Controlled Substances:
- Penalties vary widely based on the type and quantity of drugs involved. Mandatory minimum sentences apply in many trafficking cases.
- For example, trafficking in cocaine can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison for 28 grams or more but less than 200 grams, with higher minimums for larger quantities.
5. Prescription Drug Fraud:
- Penalties for prescription drug fraud, including obtaining or distributing prescription medications illegally, depend on the specific details of the case but can range from misdemeanors to felonies.
6. Marijuana Possession
- First-time offenders: fines up to $100.
- Second-time offenders: fines up to $250.
- Third-time offenders: issued a $500 fine and a mandatory drug assessment.
- Subsequent offenders: charged with a misdemeanor.
Florida's drug laws are particularly harsh, and the state does not have a drug diversion program for first-time offenders like some other states. This means that even first-time offenders can face severe penalties, including potential prison time.
Florida Drug Schedules
Florida classifies controlled substances into five "schedules" under F.S. 893.03, with Schedule I substances being the most heavily regulated and Schedule V substances having the lowest potential for abuse.
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.
What to Do After Being Arrested for a Drug Offense in Ft. Lauderdale
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 attorneys in Fort Lauderdale are available to clients around-the-clock, including nights and weekends, and have nearly 50 years of experience. Both have served as state prosecutors, which means they have handled these cases from both sides of the courtroom.
Types of Alternative Sentencing in 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.
Examples of alternative sentencing in Fort Lauderdale include:
- Drug court
- Treatment and counseling
- Probation / supervised release
- Community service
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 drug charge attorney in Fort Lauderdale by your side to walk you through the process is crucial to securing the positive outcome you need.
Factors that affect your eligibility for alternative sentencing may 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 drug lawyers 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.
Defenses for Drug Crimes in Broward County, FL
When it comes to drug crime defense in Broward County, we understand that every case is unique. Our experienced Fort Lauderdale drug crime attorneys will tailor a defense strategy to your specific circumstances.
Some common defenses in drug-related cases include:
- Illegal Search and Seizure: We will examine whether law enforcement followed proper procedures when conducting searches and seizures. If your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, we may be able to suppress evidence.
- Lack of Possession: In cases where drugs were found in a shared space or vehicle, we can argue that you did not have knowledge or control over the drugs, establishing a lack of possession.
- Chain of Custody Issues: We will scrutinize the handling of evidence to ensure it was properly preserved and documented throughout the investigative process.
- Miranda Rights Violations: If law enforcement failed to read you your Miranda rights during an interrogation, any statements made may be inadmissible in court.
- Entrapment: If you were coerced or pressured by law enforcement or a government informant to commit a drug-related offense that you would not have otherwise committed, we can assert an entrapment defense.
Our commitment to our clients' rights and our dedication to achieving the best possible outcome make Hager & Schwartz, P.A. the premier choice for drug charge defense in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We are here to stand by your side, protect your interests, and vigorously defend your case. Your future is worth fighting for, and we are here to help you navigate the legal complexities and challenges ahead. Hager & Schwartz, P.A. defends all types of drug cases.
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