In the State of Florida, the purchase, sale, distribution, manufacture, or delivery of any controlled substance is against the law, and if you are accused of any of these crimes in Clearwater, you will be set to face some of the most serious penalties. According to Florida Statute 893.13, you could be charged with anything from simple possession, possession with the intent to sell, or even drug trafficking.
Usually, the amount and type of drugs or narcotics you are found with will determine the charges that are filed. The presence of a large quantity of a controlled substance or a substantial sum of cash can be enough to warrant a charge for the delivery of a controlled substance or intent to deliver.
Delivery of a controlled substance is classified as a felony in the second-degree in Florida, and penalties can include 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, as well as many other consequences, including restrictions of your civil rights, such as the right to own a gun or even vote.
If you are facing drug charges in Clearwater, our law firm can help. Call The Law Place today for a free consultation with an experienced Clearwater criminal defense attorney. Our telephone number is (941) 444-4444, and our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
What Is a “Controlled Substance”?
According to Florida Statute 893.13, a controlled substance should not be sold or delivered by any person. Those who are accused of the delivery of drugs or possession with intent to sell will face serious criminal penalties if found guilty.
Controlled substances are regulated by the federal and state governments, and they are organized into five schedules. They are categorized according to whether they have any accepted medical uses, their potential for being abused, and the severity of their physical and psychological impacts. For example, heroin is classed as a Schedule I drug because it has a high potential for abuse, and according to the law, it offers no medical value.
A defendant accused of drug crimes could have been found to be in possession any of hundreds of different drugs, including:
- Cannabis (marijuana).
- MDMA (molly, ecstasy)
- Xanax (alprazolam).
- LSD (“acid”).
What Is Considered the “Sale” or “Delivery” of an Illegal Substance?
The Florida Supreme Court’s standard jury instructions for criminal cases states that “sell” means to deliver or transfer something to someone in exchange for money or anything else that is of value (or the promise of). “Delivery” is defined as the actual, constructive, or attempted transfer of an illegal substance to another person.
To uphold a conviction of the delivery or sale of an illegal substance under Florida’s drug laws, the state prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant delivered or sold an illegal substance.
- The substance that was sold or delivered was a specific illegal substance as per Florida Statute 893.13.
To charge a defendant with possession of drug paraphernalia, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they had knowledge of its presence and had the intent to sell.
Penalties Crimes Involving a Controlled Substance
Most crimes involving controlled substances are considered felonies in Florida, and penalties are as follows:
- Third-degree felony – Five-years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
- Second-degree felony – Fifteen-years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- First-degree felony – Thirty-years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Penalties for the Delivery of a Controlled Substance
As mentioned, the penalties that you will face for the delivery of an illegal substance will depend on the amount and type of substance that was seized, but usually, the crime is charged as a second-degree felony. Exceptions include:
- The delivery or sale of a handful of Schedule II drugs (e.g., amphetamines), Schedule I hallucinogens, and any Schedule III and Schedule IV drugs is classed as a third-degree felony
- Except for some drugs, such as marijuana, the delivery or sale of over 10 grams of a Schedule I controlled substance is classed as a first-degree felony.
- The delivery or sale of any Schedule V drugs is a less serious drug offense and is classed a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties include a mandatory minimum of a one-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine (according to Florida Statutes 893.13, 775.082, and 775.083).
Penalties for Possession With Intent to Sell or Deliver
If there is no evidence of any sales or delivery of the controlled substance you were found with, a prosecutor can still file charges for possession with intent to sell or deliver. It is against the law to possess any controlled substances with the intent to sell them. Depending on the type of drugs found, if you are convicted of possession with intent to sell, it is likely that you may be charged with a third-degree felony.
For more information with regards to the penalties that you may be facing and what your options are, call The Law Place for free legal advice.
What Are Confidential Informants?
Confidential informants are a common tool in many investigations into serious drug-related crimes in Florida. Law enforcement agencies use them to set up undercover stings, or “controlled buys,” as it may be the only way to collect vital evidence.
During these operations, the confidential informant will attempt to sell drugs or purchase them from a known targeted person or an unknown person. Police officers will usually record the transaction using video or audio surveillance. The buyer or seller can be arrested based on this evidence once the transaction has been completed.
If the evidence is gained through a confidential informant, you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner who can question their credibility. Some confidential informants have bad prior records and a big incentive to be awarded a reduction in any of their own pending charges, as well as payment.
What Criminal Defense Is Available to Me?
The skilled criminal defense attorneys at The Law Place are familiar with drug cases and using their experience. They will seek to dispute any of several aspects of a drug charge.
Some of the possible defenses that may be available in drug-related offenses are:
- Disputing the legality of the search and seizure – In Florida, law enforcement officers must have had probable cause to stop and search you, and they are required to adhere to specific procedures when searching and seizing property. Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and other relevant laws, if any of these protocols were not correctly followed, or there were any legal missteps, the evidence collected could be thrown out, and this could be enough to have your case dismissed. However, this is only possible with the help of a qualified lawyer who can investigate the details of your case.
- Challenging constructive possession – When there is no evidence of “actual” possession, the state prosecution may attempt to make a case for “constructive” possession. This is where drugs or narcotics are found in a place where several people can access. An experienced defense attorney may argue that you had no knowledge of the presence of the drugs, and you did not have “dominance and control” over them or an intent to sell.
- Challenging the intent to sell – Another common argument is that the drugs found were for personal use, and you had not intended to sell. Even though you will be admitting to the crime of possession of a controlled substance, the penalties are much less severe. The state must prove that there was an actual sale of a large amount of drugs, and this evidence may not be available.
- Entrapment – Law enforcement or a confidential informant illegally pushed the defendant to commit the crime, and without their input, the crime would not have taken place.
Depending on your individual situation, one of these defenses or another personalized defense may be a legitimate way to successfully have your charges reduced or even dismissal.
As per the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, if you are arrested and suspected of the delivery of illegal drugs, you can, and should, exercise your right to remain silent and seek legal representation. A qualified criminal defense attorney is far better equipped to handle your case and speak to the police.
The Importance of an Attorney in Any Case Involving the Intent to Sell or Deliver Controlled Substances
Anyone accused of drug crimes in Florida will be faced with serious felony charges and many years in jail. If your freedom is at stake, you should speak to one of our qualified drug crime attorneys at The Law Place today.
Finding yourself caught up in Florida’s criminal justice system can be overwhelming. We can explain your charges and discuss possible defense strategies – all in your first free consultation. Having some understanding of how the legal process works and what your options are can take some of the stress away. So, call us now to get started.
Call The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation
If you have been arrested in Clearwater for the intent to sell or deliver a controlled substance, or drug possession with intent, get in touch with The Law Place today to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
The attorneys at our law firm work tirelessly to avoid a criminal conviction in every case. Using our combined experience, we can scrutinize your arrest and the evidence against you. If a plea bargain is the best option for you, we can negotiate a reduction in charges and penalties on your behalf.
Contact us now at (941) 444-4444 for your free case evaluation. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A defense lawyer from our law firm can fight for your rights and protect your freedom.