Being charged with a drug crime in the state of Florida can be confusing, frightening, and overwhelming. Drug crimes in Florida are prosecuted aggressively, and even seemingly minor offenses can lead to significant time in jail, fines, fees, and years of mandatory probation. Drug crimes can be prosecuted both on a state and federal level, and can involve prescription medication or controlled dangerous substances such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and meth. When you are arrested for a drug crime, it is imperative you retain the assistance of an attorney you can trust who will mount a zealous defense on your behalf.
In Florida, it is not lawful to possess an illegal controlled substance. Your drug possession charge and potential penalties will depend upon the substance you are found in possession of, as well as the quantity. Possession charges can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances. Florida is known to have some of the harshest drug penalties in the country, so contact an experienced attorney today if you have been charged with a possession offense.
Sales & Distribution
Under Florida law, it is against the law to sell or distribute illegal substances. If you have been charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute, this generally means you had a large amount of the illegal substance in your possession at the time of the arrest, thus creating the presumption your intent was to sell. The possession of drug paraphernalia related to selling, such as scales or baggies, can also infer the intent to sell or distribute. Sales and distribution charges will generally be considered felony charges, which can be punishable by jail time, huge fines, and a far-reaching detrimental impact on your life.
Intent to Sell & Deliver
The charge of intent to sell and deliver is similar to a sales and distribution charge. If you are charged with the intent to sell and deliver a controlled substance, the charge is far harsher than just possession. Selling drugs is looked on with great disfavor in Florida and you may be held accountable. You could be sentenced to years in prison and face tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
A conviction for drug trafficking will carry a minimum of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The maximum fine can be up to $200,000 and include years in prison. Trafficking is treated with the highest level of derision in Florida and if you have been charged with this crime, it is essential that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Prescription fraud is a growing crime and can encompass any number of activities that result in prescription drugs being available to someone without a prescription. For instance, obtaining a prescription so that you can sell or give it to someone else or going to several doctors to obtain prescriptions for the same drug can both constitute prescription fraud.
Prescription forgery is a harshly punished drug crime, similar in nature to prescription fraud. Prescription forgery can include illegally reproducing a prescription, counterfeiting a prescription, or altering a prescription in some way, likely to get more of the controlled substance.
These are just some of the most common drug crimes. Other offenses include the commission of drug offenses, such as possession or sale, near childcare facilities or schools, the selling of controlled substances to minors, and the fraudulent prescribing of controlled substances by health care providers. Nearly any drug offense will carry with it the possibility for jail time, large fines, and an impact on your career or livelihood.
Penalties for Drug Crimes
Penalties for drug crimes range from misdemeanor to felony charges. Lesser offenses, such as possession of a small amount of marijuana, will be punishable by a fine and short jail time. More serious offenses like trafficking will involve significant fines and long prison terms.
Defending Against Your Drug Charge
It is important that you present a zealous defense against your drug charge. Your experienced defense attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the facts of the case, evaluating all potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence and uncovering any exculpatory evidence. Your actual defense will depend upon the individual circumstances, but some common defenses raised against drug charges include:
- Fourth Amendment Challenges: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from conducting illegal searches and seizures. Florida law requires that police officers have a valid search warrant in order to search your person or property or valid consent, unless a recognized exception exists. Some exceptions include search and frisks, wherein a police officer can pat down a suspect if he or she believes the suspect to be armed. Additionally, police officers can search a vehicle if they have probable cause to believe weapons or illegal substances are within. Many drug charges hold potential Fourth Amendment challenges. If you have a valid Fourth Amendment challenge, your attorney can raise it in a motion to suppress the evidence seized as a result of the illegal search and seizure.
- Challenging the Possession Element: In order to convict a defendant for possession of controlled illegal substances, the state must prove the defendant had physical dominion and control over the substance. Florida courts have recognized constructive possession, wherein an individual will be found in possession if they know of the drug’s presence and have the intent and ability to maintain control or possession of it. Those who were merely present in a home or vehicle where drugs were found could challenge the possession element.
Committed to Aggressively Defending Your Legal Rights
If you have been charged with a drug crime, your very freedom, future, and liberty are at stake. You need the best representation offered in the Gainesville area, and you need to act fast so that your attorney can start mounting your strong defense. To schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled Gainesville Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys, call our law office today.