The realities of a drug conviction, such as delivering a controlled substance, can earn you not just a hefty fine or a prison sentence but a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. A criminal record can potentially prevent you from accessing particular career paths, education, and certain travel destinations.
The State of Florida experiences high rates of drug crimes, as its proximity to cross-border drug trade from Mexico makes Florida an ideal location for drug trafficking and possession. So if you are convicted of the delivery of a controlled substance in Fort Myers, Florida, you will face the full force of the law. Your penalties depend on the number of drugs you had on you at the time and the schedule of the drug involved. But, if you are facing drug trafficking charges in Fort Myers, FL., this does not have to ruin your life permanently. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side to guide you through the legal process and represent you in court.
With over 75 years in multiple practice areas, The Law Place can provide you with a lawyer to help try to lessen your charges and avoid jail time. Schedule a free consultation today with one of our defense lawyers on (941) 444-4444.
What Are Florida’s Drug Laws?
In Fort Myers, FL., the law prohibits the possession, manufacturing, sale, and delivery of controlled substances as stated by Florida Statute 893.13. We understand that Florida law can be complex for someone with no background in law, and therefore it is recommended that you seek professional legal advice and representation if you are charged with any drug-related crime.
Should you be found guilty of the possession of a controlled substance, a judge is obliged to follow the mandatory minimum sentencing procedure. This means even if the judge wants to go easy on you, they can’t, and you will have to serve the minimum sentence time, which could be anything from 3 years to 30, depending on the specific circumstances around your case.
Your drug charges in Fort Myers, FL., will be categorized as either a felony or a misdemeanor. This depends on the circumstances surrounding your crime, more serious crimes will result in a felony, while less serious crimes will result in a misdemeanor.
The most common drug charges in Fort Myers, FL., are:
- Possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia. This includes anything for storing, growing, manufacturing, selling, or trafficking a controlled substance.
- Manufacturing a controlled substance.
- Trafficking of a controlled substance.
What Is a Drug Schedule?
In Fort Myers, FL., controlled substances are categorized into what are known as drug ‘schedules.’ These categorize drugs by their potential level of harm and addictiveness to the user. This is so prosecution teams can match the punishment easily to the severity of the drug involved in your case.
Controlled substances in Schedule I are seen to be the most addictive and harmful to the user, whereas substances in Schedule V are the least harmful and addictive to the user.
Schedule I substances are the most dangerous and have a very high potential for abuse and addiction. Controlled substances in this schedule include:
- LSD (acid).
- Methamphetamine (commonly known as meth).
Schedule II substances are considered to be slightly less harmful and addictive than Schedule I drugs and can be used for medical purposes. These drugs, when abused, can still have very harmful effects on the user, and drug crimes with substances in this schedule will incur relatively severe penalties. Drugs in this schedule include:
Schedule III substances are still harmful to the user if abused but are slightly less addictive than substances in Schedules I and II. They are used within medicine in the United States and include substances such as:
Schedule IV substances are used widely in medicine, and you will probably recognize their names as prescription drugs. These are not usually harmful if taken under the recommended guidelines. However, if they are abused, they still have the potential to cause harm. Substances in this category include:
Schedule V substances are the least harmful and addictive of all the schedules, although they are still illegal to traffick, sell, or manufacture. Drugs in this schedule include popular over-the-counter prescriptions such as:
- Cough medicine, containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters.
What Penalties Will You Face if You Are Found to Be Delivering Illegal Drugs?
The penalties associated with different drug crimes will vary depending on multiple aspects of your drug case. Usually, the amount of a controlled substance you had on your person at the time will be the main factor in deciding your punishment, along with the schedule of the substance involved. Penalties will always follow the guidelines laid out in Florida Statute 775.083.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, this will be classified as either:
- First-degree – This could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year spent in prison.
- Second-degree – This could result in up to $500 in fines and community service.
However, more serious drug-related crimes will result in a felony charge. This is usually the case if you are found to be in possession of or trafficking drugs over 10 grams in quantity or if the controlled substances belong to Schedule I. Felonies again can be classified as either first, second, or third-degree.
- First-degree felony – This is the most serious charge you may face for drug crimes and can result in you paying fines of up to $10,000 and potentially spending 30 years in prison. The circumstances around your case will impact what exact penalties you will face.
- Second-degree felony – This could result in jail time of up to 15 years and a $10,000 fine.
- Third-degree felony – This could result in jail time of up to 5 years and a $5,000 fine.
It is important to remember some common circumstances that will increase the severity of your charge. Such as:
- If you have an already existing criminal record, your charges could be increased
- If you were caught in possession of or trafficking a controlled substance near a public place such as a park or a school playground where minors were present, this would increase your charge.
- If you had a firearm when you were found with a controlled substance.
What Is a Confidential Informant?
It is not uncommon in Fort Myers, FL., to be subject to a controlled buy by a confidential informant. These practices are common for drug investigators to carry out if someone is suspected of (usually) large-scale drug crime. This is a situation where someone will go undercover to buy drugs from you in an effort to collect first-hand evidence in order to convict you of said crime. This is completely legal in the State of Florida and can be very difficult to defend.
This process is usually only carried out when law enforcement is almost sure that a suspect is involved with the possession, trafficking, or manufacturing of a controlled substance. A controlled informant will disguise themselves as a regular person in an attempt to purchase drugs from you. Meanwhile, law enforcement will record evidence of this sale to use as evidence against you. They will do this using many different techniques, such as hidden cameras or microphones.
It is unlikely that this will happen to you if you are not on law enforcement’s radar and you are not guilty of large-scale drug possession or drug trafficking. However, if you do find yourself in this position, you will need a strong defense lawyer because if you are subject to a ‘controlled buy,’ the evidence it will provide will be hard to counter. No matter what your situation, our law firm could help you in avoiding life-altering penalties.
Considerations When Choosing a Criminal Defense Lawyer, Fort Myers, FL?
As soon as you are convicted of a drug crime, you should collect as much evidence as you can and call a defense attorney as soon as possible. Choosing a lawyer can be difficult, but there are certain things you should be aware of before opting for a particular criminal defense attorney.
- Do they have experience in solving cases similar to yours? If so, how many?
- Are they versed in the Florida Statutes?
- How many successful cases do they have under their belt?
- Do you have past convictions or documents from other cases with references that your chosen lawyer should be made aware of?
- Do they have experience in plea bargains?
Plea bargains are often a common way for lawyers to defend you without you having to appear in court in front of a judge – an option that is appealing to many. This requires a defendant to plead guilty to charges as advised by their criminal defense lawyer. The aim of this guilty plea is to negotiate a certain aspect of your charges being dropped in order to save time and money in court battles.
How Can a Lawyer From The Law Place Help You?
It is never recommended to face drug charges in Florida without the help of a defense lawyer. If you are caught with a controlled substance in Fort Myers, FL., then do not waste any time. Call a defense attorney from The Law Place as soon as possible.
Lawyers from The Law Place will help you in forming the best defense strategy to rid you of the harshest penalties. A lawyer will use their knowledge of Florida statutes as well as evidence, eyewitnesses, and defense skills honed over years of practice to help your case.
A defense lawyer will delve deep into the circumstances around your case to make sure that no foul play was committed by the arresting officers and that they themselves did not break any laws. Common defense strategies used by a criminal defense attorney in Fort Myers are as follows:
- The number of drugs you had was weighed incorrectly, important if the amount you had was near the 10-gram mark, as the consequences for over 10 grams are significantly harsher than if you were found with less than 10 grams.
- You were subject to entrapment by arresting officers. This is different from ‘controlled buys,’ and a lawyer from The Law Pace can explain this more in detail to you.
- The controlled substances found in a common area were not yours. This is known as constructive possession and implies that you did not know about the drugs found near you.
- The controlled substance was, in fact, not illegal.
- You were wrongly identified as the suspect in possession of the controlled substance.
An attorney from The Law Place will handle the legalities of your case for you, such as legal paperwork, defense strategies, evidence collection, and they can answer any questions you have while guiding you through Florida’s legal processes.
Contact The Law Place Today!
Do not let a drug charge impact your future. Once you have been convicted of a crime, it is very difficult to hide it. A criminal record will have to be declared to any future employer and on many applications for housing, education, etc.
If you do find yourself in deep waters over a drug charge in Fort Myers, don’t panic just yet! We at The Law Place have years of combined experience in criminal defense and have helped many successful clients avoid years in prison.
Contact The Law Place today for a free case evaluation at (941) 444-4444. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week!