Being caught in possession of drugs in Fort Myers is regarded as a major crime that carries with it severe penalties. Drug possession laws throughout the State of Florida are stricter than most places in the United States, and being convicted of this crime can result in you having to pay huge fines in addition to lengthy prison sentences.
Facing a criminal conviction in Florida can be daunting, particularly when the charges you face amount to a felony. Regardless of whether you have been charged with heroin or marijuana possession, a conviction of this nature could impact the rest of your life. If you are in this situation and have been convicted of possessing more than 10 grams of a controlled substance, it is vital that you speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. They can help you fight your conviction and ensure that the rest of your life is not impacted by a permanent stain on your record.
Here at The Law Place, we have over 75 years of combined experience in multiple practice areas, including many drug cases. Our law firm has a team of skilled criminal defense lawyers who are experienced in fighting off drug charges in court. We offer a free consultation where you can receive honest legal advice from a lawyer from our firm regarding your possession charges. If you choose us as your legal representatives, we will fight tooth and nail to ensure that your charges are abolished or reduced.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your convenience.
Drug Possession Law in the State of Florida
As stated above, the law in Florida is strict on all types of drug crimes. If you are caught possessing, purchasing, manufacturing, or selling a controlled substance, you will face criminal charges. However, the charges you face and the penalties for these charges will vary depending on the type of drug and the quantity found in your possession. A complete list of the fines and penalties for drug crimes can be found in Florida Statute 893.13.
The law provides that in order to be convicted of drug possession, it must be shown that:
- An illegal substance was found in your possession.
- The court correctly identified the substance.
- You had knowledge that you were in possession of this substance and continued to possess the drug.
- You committed the crime wilfully, and you were not coerced by another party to keep the substance.
Types of Drug Possession Charges in Fort Myers, Florida
If you are found with a small amount of a controlled substance on your person, which cannot be considered enough to amount to a sale or trafficking charge, you can be charged with simple possession or ‘actual possession.’
A charge of actual possession is not as severe as some other drug possession charges. However, being convicted can still result in penalties and a mark on your criminal record. It is recommended that you seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney if you have been charged with simple possession, as they can help to get the charges thrown out or get your penalties reduced.
A constructive possession charge differs from simple possession in that the drugs do not have to be found on your person. If a member of law enforcement discovers drugs that are in some way linked to you, either in your vehicle, your home, or any other properties linked to you, they can charge you with constructive possession.
In order to be convicted of this crime, it must be shown that:
- You had an awareness that the controlled substance was in the property you are linked to.
- You had actual control of this property at the time of the discovery.
- You had an awareness that the substance in question is regarded as illegal under Florida law.
Possession With Intent to Sell
A possession with intent to sell charge can arise if a police officer has suspicions that you are holding a controlled substance with the purpose of distributing or trafficking it. A charge of this nature is considered a serious crime in Florida and carries with it severe penalties, including large fines and time in state prison.
It is likely that you will be charged with possession with intent to sell if you have been found with:
- A large quantity of drugs that goes beyond what can be considered for personal use.
- Items and paraphernalia that are generally associated with selling drugs including small bags, papers, and drug scales.
If a law enforcement officer discovers that you have over 10 grams of a controlled substance on your person, they will probably charge you with possession with intent to sell. It is important that you seek the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer who can prove that you intended to use the drugs for personal use.
You can be charged with drug trafficking in the State of Florida if you are caught possessing a large quantity of a controlled substance. You may face a charge of this nature if you are discovered to be possessing:
- More than 28 grams of cocaine.
- More than 25 pounds or 300 plants of marijuana.
- More than 28 grams of codeine, which can include any type of mixture that exceeds this minimum amount.
- More than 4 grams of opiates which could include heroin or morphine, amongst many others.
Drug trafficking is one of the most serious drug crimes in Florida, and if you are convicted, you can face a first-degree felony charge, as stated under Florida Statute 893.135. The punishment you face for this conviction can range based on the particular controlled substance that was found in your possession and the quantity.
If you are caught in possession of particular listed chemicals or manufacturing equipment in addition to a controlled substance, you can face charges of drug manufacturing in Florida.
A charge of drug manufacturing in Florida is regarded as highly serious, and if you are convicted, the sentence you receive could be severe. A drug manufacturing charge often comes with a possession charge, also meaning you can face separate penalties for each charge. As such, receiving a double conviction can end up in a lengthy prison sentence, huge fines, and a permanent stain on your criminal record due to a first-degree felony conviction.
If you have been charged with drug manufacturing and possession of a controlled substance in Fort Myers, you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Our law firm offers a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can help you fight your serious criminal charges and do everything in their power to prevent you from spending many years in prison.
The Five Schedules of Controlled Substances
The law in Florida categorizes drugs into five main schedules based on their level of harm, the risks associated with the drug, and the danger they pose to members of the public for abuse and addiction. If you are caught in possession of Schedule V drugs, the charges you face will be less severe than if you are caught with Schedule I drugs, as substances in Schedule I are regarding as being the most harmful.
Florida Statute 893.03 provides a full list of controlled substances and their categories but some of the main examples of controlled substances contained in each schedule include:
- Schedule I – Heroin, MDMA, LSD, and marijuana.
- Schedule II – Cocaine, Fentanyl, Morphine, Ritalin, and Methadone.
- Schedule III – Ketamine and anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV – Zopiclone, Diazepam, Xanex, and Loprazolam.
- Schedule V – Any mixture or solution that contains more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or 100 grams.
If you have been legally prescribed any controlled substance by a licensed medical practitioner and you can prove this, you will not face criminal charges for possession of a controlled substance.
Penalties for Drug Possession in Fort Myers, FL.
Being charged with drug possession in Florida can result in a wide range of penalties. A law enforcement officer will decide on what charge to bring against you depending on the particular facts of your case. They could charge you with a misdemeanor or a first, second, or third-degree felony. Each of these charges carries with them its own penalties and has the potential to permanently stain your criminal record. The most frequent penalties for drug possession include:
- Mandatory time in prison.
- Probation periods.
- Rehabilitation ordered by the court.
- Random drug testing.
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
Florida Statute 775.083 sets out the different charges you can face and the penalties they carry:
- Capital felonies – Life imprisonment, and in particular cases, the death penalty.
- First-degree felony – A maximum of 30 years in prison in addition to fines of up to $10,000.
- Second-degree felony – A maximum of 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Third-degree felony – A maximum Florida state prison sentence of 5 years and up to $5,000 in fines.
- First-degree misdemeanor – Maximum jail time of one year and up to $1,000 in fines. Marijuana possession of fewer than 20 grams is considered a first-degree misdemeanor.
- Second-degree misdemeanor – A maximum fine of $500 in addition to 60 days of jail time.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
In order to fight off any drug charges in Florida, it is necessary that you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help protect your rights. They will use their experience to investigate your case and use the evidence available to build a strong criminal defense for your drug crime charge. There are a number of things defense lawyers can challenge in court, including:
- The reasoning behind your stop and search – In order for a law enforcement officer to legally stop you in Florida, it is necessary that they have reasonable suspicion that you have committed, intend to commit, or are in the process of committing a drug crime. Failure to prove reasonable suspicion could result in the criminal charge being thrown out.
- Treatment by police officers – Defense lawyers can argue that the police officer who arrested you didn’t afford you fair treatment by treating you rough, violating your right to hold back self-incriminating evidence, or not reading you the Miranda warning.
- Search warrant – A lawyer can argue that the search warrant used to search your property was not obtained legally or was obtained based on false evidence.
- Control of the drug – It could be argued that you had no knowledge of the drug if it was found on a property in your control.
- Knowledge of the drug – If the drugs were found on your person, but you were unaware of their presence, for example, if you borrowed someone else’s coat and it contained marijuana, an attorney could try to reduce your charges based on a lack of knowledge.
- Co-operation – Being cooperative with police officers at the time of the incident could result in your charges being reduced.
Contact The Law Place Today
Facing drug charges in Florida is extremely stressful, and navigating the criminal legal system alone can be confusing. Regardless of whether you have been charged with marijuana possession or heroin possession, a conviction of this nature could impact the rest of your life, including your future job and employment prospects and your right to vote. Depending on the type of drug you are caught with, you could also be faced with huge fines in addition to many years in a Florida state prison.
If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance over 10 grams in Fort Myers, Florida, you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Here at The Law Place, we have over 75 years of experience in multiple practice areas, including many drug possession cases. We offer a free case evaluation with a criminal defense attorney from our law firm who will give you honest legal advice on your criminal case. Once we take on your case, we will do everything in our power to ensure that you receive justice and that you are not convicted of a felony charge.
The sooner you contact us for a free case evaluation, the more time we have to investigate your case and build a strong criminal defense on your behalf.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation. Our lines are open 24/7 so you know we are always here to help.