Fort Lauderdale Drug Possession Lawyer
What Does Drug Possession Entail in Florida?
While many individuals think simple possession of an illegal substance is no big deal - think again. Florida is known for its tough stance on drug possession. Possession means to "have personal charge of or to exercise the right of ownership, management or control" over a substance.
Florida's drug possession statute 893.13 forces individuals who say they didn't know they were breaking the law to prove it, or to be presumed guilty. This law is extremely harsh, considering that at least 48 other states require prosecutors to convince a jury that the defendant knew he/she was carrying illegal drugs.
If you're facing possession charges in Broward County, schedule a free case review with our Fort Lauderdale drug possession lawyers from Hager & Schwartz, P.A. now by calling (954) 840-8713 or filling out our online form.
Florida Drug Possession Laws
Drug possession laws are governed by Florida Statute Chapter 893. The penalties for drug possession can vary depending on the type and amount of drug involved, as well as whether the individual has any prior drug-related convictions.
Possession of Controlled Substances
Florida law classifies controlled substances into five schedules based on their potential for abuse and accepted medical use. The penalties for possession of a controlled substance in Florida depend on the schedule of the drug and the amount possessed.
- Schedule I and II drugs: Possession of these drugs is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and marijuana with a THC concentration above 0.3%, peyote, and psilocybin.
- Schedule II drugs include opium, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, and methamphetamine.
If you possess more than 10 grams of heroin or another Schedule 1 drug, you could be charged with a first-degree felony which is punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and 15 years in jail. If you are caught possessing LSD, you could face anywhere from five years in jail to 30 years, depending on the amount you possessed.
- Schedule III drugs: Possession of these drugs is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- This includes anabolic steroids, ketamine, and synthetic THC.
- Schedule IV drugs: Possession of these drugs is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- This includes Xanax and Ambien, materials containing barbital, clonazepam, diazepam, or tramadol.
- Schedule V drugs: Possession of these drugs is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- This includes opium, codeine, dihydrocodeine, antidiarrheal medications that contain small amounts of diphenoxylate, and some anxiety medications such as pregabalin.
Possession of Marijuana in Broward County
In Florida, possession of marijuana is also illegal, although the penalties for possession of marijuana are less severe than for other controlled substances. The penalties for possession of marijuana depend on the amount possessed.
- Less than 20 grams: If you were found in possession of marijuana, an amount under 20 grams will result in a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Possible license suspension for up to 2 years.
- More than 20 grams: Amounts over 20 grams can result in a third-degree felony, punishable by:
- Up to 5 years in prison
- A fine of up to $5,000
Elements of Drug Possession in Florida
Florida drug crimes involve various criminal offenses including possession, sale, trafficking, and distribution of controlled substances. Some of the common elements in a drug case include:
- Possession: A person must have actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance to be charged with drug possession in FL. Actual possession is when drugs are found on the person and constructive possession is when drugs are within the person's control, such as in a car or a home.
- Knowledge: In Florida, the prosecution must prove that the defendant knew or should have known that they were in possession of a controlled substance to be convicted. This knowledge requirement may be inferred from the circumstances, such as the location or manner in which the drugs were found.
- Intent: Some drug crimes, such as drug trafficking, require the prosecution to prove that the defendant had a specific intent to sell or distribute the drugs. This intent can be inferred from the amount of drugs found, the presence of drug paraphernalia, or other evidence.
- Type of drug: The specific controlled substance involved in the offense must be considered. The state classifies drugs into 5 different schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical value. The severity of the offense and the potential penalties depend on the drug schedule and the amount of the drug involved.
- Age: Possession or sale of drugs to minors carries harsher penalties in Florida.
Legal Defenses for Drug Possession Charges in Broward County
If you have been charged with possession of drugs, a Fort Lauderdale drug possession lawyer at our firm can file any relevant motions to suppress. If any evidence being used against you was obtained illegally, this evidence cannot be presented in court and must be thrown out.
Other defenses that could be used include:
- Drugs belonged to another person
- The substance isn't actually a controlled substance (crime lab analysis)
- Lack of evidence (missing drugs)
- Duress or coercion- you were forced to possess the drugs for someone else
- Drugs were planted
- Entrapment- officers induced you to commit the crime (in the sting operation, did the officers provide the drugs in question?)
Also, some counties in Florida have drug courts that are not focused on criminal punishment, but treatment. In the event of a conviction, our firm can help determine whether you might be eligible for alternative sentencing.
Request Your Free Case Evaluation
As former prosecutor, we understand the importance of having a knowledgeable attorney at your side. Our Fort Lauderdale drug possession lawyers are former prosecutors and have the background to understand the case from the other side. This experience can be used to your advantage while building a powerful defense.
Whether drugs were found on you or in your house, whether you were in possession of cocaine or marijuana, and whether you knew about it or not- the same truth pertains to all drug offenders, you need powerful defense on your side immediately.
Don't allow your life to be affected long-term by a devastating drug conviction, fight your charges with the help of a Fort Lauderdale drug possession attorney from Hager & Schwartz, P.A. today!
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