A disproportionately large number of Florida’s citizens struggle with substance abuse. Millions of individuals in the state are dependent on heroin, alcohol, opioids, cocaine, or methamphetamine. Florida is known as a major drug market. This is why Florida has some of the toughest drug laws in the country. Possession of any kind will usually result in a felony charge. These strict penalties have been imposed in an attempt to deter individuals from committing drug crimes and ultimately to protect people from the devastating psychological, physical, and financial effects of illegal drug abuse.
If you have been arrested for purchasing illegal drugs, you could be facing criminal charges for possession of a controlled substance or possession with intent to sell. To fight these charges and avoid a felony conviction, you must seek advice from an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At The Law Place, we have over seventy-five years of combined experience in defending the criminally accused. Call us now at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation. Our phone lines are manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Controlled Substances According to Florida Law
According to Florida Statute 893.13, not only is it against the law to sell or deliver a controlled substance, but it is also illegal to purchase illegal drugs with the intent to sell or deliver them.
The statute includes a full list of all “controlled substances” that are regulated by the state and federal government. Some of the drugs included on this list are illegal if you have no valid prescription, and others are illegal in all circumstances. Any person who is successfully convicted under this statute will face serious penalties, such as mandatory minimum prison sentences, expensive fines, probation, and community service.
In North Port, some of the most common drugs that are associated with drug crimes include:
- Prescription pills, such as Xanax.
- Designer drugs, such as K2 and Spice.
The Purchase of a Controlled Substance in North Port, FL.
Anyone who is arrested for purchasing a controlled substance could face several different charges. These charges will be based on the defendant’s intention when buying them. For example, were the drugs brought for personal use, or is there some evidence that there was an intent to sell?
Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance
A case of simple drug possession will usually involve smaller amounts of a controlled substance that is intended for personal use only. Even though possession of just a small amount of an illegal drug can be a third-degree felony offense in Florida, it is a more desirable charge when compared with some other possibilities. Those convicted of drug possession could face up to five years in prison.
Possession With Intent to Sell, Distribute, or Deliver
If there is evidence that you purchased a controlled substance and proceeded to deliver it, sell it, or passed it on to someone else to sell, you will be charged with “possession with intent to sell.”
Even if the drugs in your possession were genuinely for personal use, if you are found with a large number of drugs, you would face charges of possession with intent to sell.
The Trafficking of Illegal Drugs
Anyone who is found with very large quantities of illegal drugs will face trafficking charges. Trafficking is the most serious drug crime, and the charges associated with it are far more serious than charges for possession with intent to sell, distribute, or deliver. Those convicted of drug trafficking in Florida will face a minimum mandatory prison sentence.
For example, if you are found to be in possession of 25 marijuana plants or more, this is considered as prima facie evidence of drug trafficking, and you will face second-degree felony charges. If you are convicted for the trafficking of a more serious drug such as cocaine (200-400 grams), you will face first-degree felony charges and up to 30 years in prison.
The Difference Between Actual Possession and Constructive Drug Possession
If you are facing possession with intent charges, you may hear the terms “constructive possession” and “actual possession.” Actual possession refers to cases where controlled substances were physically found in the defendant’s possession. Constructive possession refers to cases where the drugs were found in the defendant’s vehicle or property, which they had control of.
In other words, controlled substances do not have to be in your physical possession at the time of your arrest to give rise to charges of possession with intent to sell. If the prosecutor can show that you had any knowledge of the existence of the controlled substance and exercised any level of control over them, either directly or indirectly, you can be charged with constructive possession.
The Long-Term Impact of Criminal Drug Charges in Florida
Any crime that involves the intent to sell illegal drugs could very well result in a felony conviction. Therefore, if convicted, you will be facing the very real possibility of many years in prison, years of probation, and a large fine. However, what you may not have considered is that your criminal charges will stay with you for life. There are certain laws and regulations that restrict felons from certain areas of work as well as gaining permits and scholarships. You will not be able to vote and will not be permitted to own a weapon. This is why we recommend that you never enter a guilty plea without speaking to an experienced criminal defense lawyer first. There may be a chance your charges could be reduced or dismissed with the right defense.
Possible Defenses to Possession of Illegal Drugs Charges
A good criminal defense attorney will build a defense that is based on your individual case and the circumstances of your arrest. Some possible defenses for drug crimes include:
- An illegal search and seizure – The most common defense in a possession case is the argument that the search of the defendant’s house, vehicle, or person was illegal. As per The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, if law enforcement violated your rights in any way, your case could be thrown out.
- You had no knowledge of the drug and its presence – Perhaps you had no knowledge of the nature of the substance, or maybe you were not aware of its presence at all. The state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew what the substance was and knew of its existence.
- Entrapment – There may be evidence to show that you were coerced by the police in some way. Sometimes officers create fake situations to trick defendants and encourage them to commit a crime that they would not have committed otherwise. This is called “entrapment.” Under these circumstances, your charges could be dismissed.
- Invalid lab procedures – All substances found and seized by police will be sent to a lab for testing. These labs must follow strict procedures to ensure that evidence is not contaminated. When a lawyer conducts their investigation into the case, they may find that these procedures were not followed, and your case could be dismissed.
- No constructive possession – If the drugs were not found in your actual possession, the prosecutor would need to provide strong evidence to show that you were in control of the drugs in some way. If there is no physical proof, then the evidence against you can be scrutinized by the right criminal lawyer.
If you have been accused of drug possession, an experienced criminal lawyer can use their skills to build the best possible defense for you. Call The Law Place today for a case evaluation.
When Should I Hire a Defense Attorney?
If you have been arrested and accused of possession of illegal drugs with intent, it is important that you hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you wait too long to seek legal advice, you could incriminate yourself further and drastically reduce your chances of a positive outcome.
You will be considered a suspect as soon as you are taken in for questioning by police, and anything that you say could be used against you at a later date. Law enforcement agents know how to twist your words, and it is likely that they will try to convince you that by pleading guilty, you will avoid serious penalties. However, in most cases, it is better to fight your charges in court. This is why the sooner you have a skilled criminal defense lawyer by your side, the better.
What The Law Place Can Do for You
If you have been charged with drug possession in North Port, Florida, The Law Place can help. Our law firm will review the facts and circumstances of your arrest, scrutinize the evidence against you, and spot any legal missteps.
We will ask important questions that could lead to a reduction or dismissal of your charges. For example, where were the illegal drugs found? Did you commit the drug crime alone, or were other people involved? Was the search of your home or vehicle legal? Are there any valid witnesses? Were the statements provided obtained legally? The experienced attorneys at our law firm will investigate your case thoroughly and work tirelessly to have your drug charges significantly reduced or dismissed completely.
Call The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation
If you have been arrested for a drug crime such as drug possession with the intent to sell in the State of Florida, you are going to need legal representation, and The Law Place can help. Our law firm has some of the best criminal lawyers in Florida, and they will use their knowledge and experience to fight for justice on your behalf.
With our help, you can minimize the potential penalties you face and even have your case dismissed with the right defense. With over 75 years of combined experience, we have the knowledge needed to help you make the right decision.
Call us at (941) 444-4444 for a free consultation. Our phone lines are manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there is always someone ready to take your call.