The law in Florida considers crimes involving the sale of illegal substances to be very serious offenses. Due to the state’s close proximity to popular drug routes, Florida sees extremely high rates of drug use, possession, and sales. This is why the laws surrounding drug crimes are so harsh and carry such heavy punishments.
The sale of a substance in place of a controlled substance is a serious crime that takes place when a person fails to sell another the controlled substance they requested instead of selling them another product. So an example of this is a person confirming that they are selling cocaine to someone, but in fact selling them flour. As per Florida Statute 817.563, this is an offense that is punishable by law.
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges of selling a substance in place of a controlled substance, you need a criminal defense attorney. At The Law Place, we have a team of lawyers with over 75 years of experience and the skills you need to get your charges reduced. Our main priority is our clients, which is why we offer a free consultation service where you can voice all your queries and concerns before making any final decisions. Our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so call us now at (941) 444-4444.
Florida Controlled Substances Law
Selling an illegal substance in Florida is considered a criminal offense, no matter if the substance is controlled or not. You can easily be convicted in a court of law if there is evidence proving that you sold, or intended to sell, someone a legal substance like basil after agreeing to sell them marijuana.
The punishment you receive will be based on the schedule and amount of the drug that you agreed to sell. Charges range anywhere from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony.
Controlled Substance Schedules
The government has created a drug classification system called schedules. These schedules are ordered from the most harmful and addictive drugs to illegal substances with the least potential to harm users. This system makes it easier to sentence those convicted of drug crimes with punishments depending on the schedule of the drug they were found in possession of. Florida Statute 893.03 stipulates exactly what the government considers to be controlled substances and their classifications.
There are five different schedules including:
These substances are considered to be the most harmful because of their potential for abuse and addiction. Schedule 1 drugs are not considered medically beneficial in any way, making for their strict classification
Schedule 1 drugs include crack cocaine, meth, heroin, and LSD.
These are substances that may have some medical uses but still pose a great amount of potential for abuse and addiction.
Schedule 2 drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, Oxycontin, and morphine.
These are substances which the government considers to be moderately harmful to users.
Schedule 3 drugs include codeine, steroids, and ketamine.
These are substances that pose little risk of harm or addiction to those who use them.
Schedule 4 drugs include Ativan, Tramadol, Xanax, Ambien, and Valium.
The government class these substances as the lowest risk whilst still being illegal. They are unlikely to cause harm and pose little threat of abuse or addiction. For this reason, they come with the most lenient of punishments.
Schedule 5 drugs include Lomotil and Lyrica.
What Punishment Could I Be Facing?
So far, we know that each controlled substance has been placed into a schedule based on the risk it poses to users. Penalities are then decided based on the schedule and quantity of the controlled substance that was found. So if you were found with a large quantity of cocaine, your charges might include intent to sell a controlled substance. The punishment for this would certainly be more serious than if you were found to be carrying 3 grams of cocaine. The following are some possible penalties for the sale of a substance in place of a controlled substance:
- If you agreed to sell any substance categorized as Schedule 1-4, then you may be facing a third-degree felony charge. This comes with up to five years in prison, five years probation, and a fine of up to $5,000.
- In the event that the substance found was listed as a Schedule 5 drug, then you may receive a second-degree misdemeanor charge. As a result, you could be looking at a minimum 60-day jail sentence and a fine of up to £500.
The charge and resulting penalty you receive can also be affected by other circumstances. A judge has the power to increase the severity of your punishment for the following reasons:
- You used a firearm at the time of the drug sale.
- You already have a criminal record.
- You intended to or sold an illegal substance to a minor.
- The transaction was made within 1,000 of a park, school, church, public housing, or retirement home.
If you are unsure of what your charges mean or what punishment you will likely face, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At The Law Place, we will give you honest, impartial advice on your circumstances and options. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation.
It is important to remember that there is a difference between selling a substance in place of a controlled substance and actually selling a controlled substance. If you have sold a substance resembling an illegal drug, the penalties will be less severe than if you had actually sold or intended to sell a controlled substance.
As previously mentioned, the penalty is dependant on the schedule of the drug and the quantity you were in possession of. However, you face the risk of being sentenced to between 5 and 15 years in prison. Florida Statute 893.03 outlines the maximum possible sentence each controlled substance carries, as well as further information about the penalties associated with the five drug schedules.
Another mistake that is often made is confusion between the sale of a substance in place of a controlled substance and ‘counterfeiting a controlled substance.’ The details of this are outlined in Florida Statute 831.31 where it states that a drug must be mixed with another substance in order for it to be considered ‘counterfeit.’ Therefore, anyone who has cut a bag of cocaine with talcum powder could face charges of counterfeiting a controlled substance.
A common misconception is a belief that you can only be charged with intent to sell if you have been caught making the transaction. This is untrue, however, as you can be charged with intent to sell if a prosecutor can prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you planned to sell the drug.
Furthermore, you can be charged for a sale that transpired without a law enforcement officer seeing it at all. Your conviction may be entirely based on the testimony of an informant, eye witness, or an undercover police officer. If a witness is able to convince a jury of your guilt, then you may face the full extent of the law.
This is why you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can convince a jury of your innocence. There are many resources that your lawyer can use to do this, including questioning witness credibility, collecting CCTV footage, or even fingerprints. Call The Law Place today to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help you get your charges reduced or dropped altogether.
Will I Be Convicted?
Your best chance of having all charges waived or reduced is a lack of evidence. In order for you to be convicted of the sale of a substance in place of a controlled substance, the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, you cannot be convicted if you were simply thinking about selling the substance. Money must have been exchanged in order to prove your guilt. In order to convict you, the following must be proved in a court of law:
- You consented, offered, or agreed to sell a controlled substance without being authorized to do so.
- You then committed to this sale, exchanging money for the substance.
How Will My Criminal Defense Attorney Defend Me?
When you hire a criminal defense lawyer, they will look at the details of your case and select a defense according to the circumstances surrounding these. There are numerous ways in which defense attorneys commonly challenge the prosecution’s case, including:
- Questioning the evidence proving you offered to sell the controlled substance.
- Questioning the evidence showing that the transaction took place, either for money or another valuable item.
- Questioning the evidence showing that you were aware of the substance’s illegal status.
- Questioning the evidence that proves you sold the substance.
- Showing that the witness’s testimony cannot be trusted, maybe due to conflicting details or them being related to the defendant.
In questioning the evidence presented by the prosecution, your attorney may be able to cast doubt over the strength of their case. Remember, you must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and finding holes in the evidence against you may result in your charges being reduced or dropped entirely.
Could I Be Charged With Possession With Intent to Sell?
In the event that the prosecution cannot collect enough evidence to successfully charge you with selling a controlled substance, they may try a different approach. As per Florida Statute 893.13, the prosecution may attempt to charge you with ‘possession with intent to sell.’ Showing that you were in possession of a large quantity of paraphernalia like baggies or a large sum of cash may be enough to secure a guilty verdict for this charge.
The prosecution’s ability to change your charges in order to fit their evidence means that you are at great risk even if there is nothing to show that you actually sold any drugs. A criminal defense lawyer will be the key to proving that you had no intentions of selling a controlled substance or a substance in place of a controlled substance. They will collect all the necessary evidence to prove your innocence and help you get your life back on track.
Call The Law Place Today
If you or a loved one is facing a sale of substance in place of a controlled substance charge in Port Charlotte, FL., then you need help now. At The Law Place, we understand just how confusing and distressing the legal system can be. This is why you need the representation of a team that knows exactly how the system works and how to defend you.
Drug charges can come with severe and life-changing penalties for those convicted. Contacting a criminal defense attorney will give you the best chance at fighting these charges and making sure that they are reduced as far as possible. We pride ourselves on our attorney-client relationships, and we guarantee full impartiality and confidentiality.
Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation with a member of our team and take the first step to build a strong defense. Call us now at (941) 444-4444. Phone lines are open 24/7.