If you are in the position of being accused of purchasing 10 or more grams of a controlled drug, it is imperative that you seek trustworthy and experienced legal representation to limit the damage to your future.
Depending on the drug you were caught purchasing, there are likely to be extremely serious consequences if you head into court without the correct representation. You could be looking at years in prison and astronomic fines.
Luckily, our team of drug crime attorneys at The Law Place have a wealth of experience in dealing with a multitude of Tampa drug cases just like yours. In fact, between our team, we have accumulated 75 years of legal experience in this field.
We also offer free no-obligation telephone consultations, and our lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everything you tell us about your charges will remain entirely confidential. We will be able to advise you on the best legal path forward and give specific information on how our attorneys can help you with your case.
Which State in America Has the Harshest Illegal Drug Laws?
The state of Florida is renowned for harsh and complex laws regarding controlled substances, due to its position as a prime state for international drug smuggling routes. However, the good news is that these laws still do not make it America’s harshest state for controlled substance charges.
The harshest drug laws can be found in South Dakota. This is due to its particularly severe drug ingestion laws, which make it a crime to be found under the influence of a controlled substance, whereas in states like Florida, you must be found in possession of the actual substance.
Furthermore, while ten other states have similar ingestion laws, South Dakota is the only one that makes these charges a felony. They also have much higher rates of incarceration for drug charges in comparison to other states.
However, this is not to say controlled substance charges in Florida are taken lightly. Possession of illegal drugs, especially in amounts over 10 grams, is still taken extremely seriously. Depending on the exact amount and the type of drug, you could still be looking at drug trafficking charges for being found in possession of 10 grams or more of controlled substances.
So, What Are Florida’s Drug Laws?
The intricacies of Florida’s drug laws are all contained in Florida Statute 893.13.
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the drug laws in Florida are incredibly complex. The charges for purchase, and therefore possession, of controlled substances will vary widely depending on the amount and the substance in question.
Let us give an example. If you are caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana in Tampa, FL., the offense will be a misdemeanor. The penalties here are a maximum of a year in prison and a fine, which can go as high as $1,000. However, if you are caught with over 20 grams, the charges change to a felony. Here, depending on the amount, you will be facing a stint of incarceration, which could range from five years to 30 years in prison. As well as this, you can expect up to $200,000 of fines. Obviously, whether you receive a first-degree felony or a third-degree felony and its corresponding amount of years in prison will depend on how much more than 20 grams of marijuana you have in your possession.
It is also worth remembering that Florida operates mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Normally, when sentencing you, the judge will have room for a more lenient sentence depending on the details of your case. However, if you are found guilty of possession of controlled substances, the judge must adhere to the mandatory minimum amount of years in prison. This could be three years, five years, or even 30 years, depending on the charges you are found guilty of.
To illustrate how widely Florida laws vary depending on substance and amount, we shall give another example. In this example, we shall use cocaine, which is widely accepted to be a much harder drug than marijuana. If you are found in possession of any less than 28 grams of cocaine, you will still only be sentenced to possession, which is a third-degree felony. However, if you exceed an amount of 28 grams of cocaine, you will face trafficking charges instead of possession. Trafficking charges for possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine are a first-degree felony and can be punished by three years, seven years, fifteen years, or life imprisonment, depending on the amount of the drug found in your possession. You can also expect up to a $250,000 fine.
As you can see, the drug laws in Florida are extremely complex. This is why the help of a criminal defense lawyer well versed in the laws surrounding drug charges is so important. If you would like more information on the specific drug charges leveled against you, you can contact The Law Place at any time of the day or night for a free consultation over the phone. We can give you a good idea of what to expect for your personal legal case and can advise you on how one of our experienced criminal defense lawyers can help.
The Five Drug Schedules
Drugs considered a controlled substance in Florida are divided into five categories, which are known as schedules. These schedules refer to how serious the potential for harm, addiction, and abuse is in the eyes of the government.
Schedule one drugs are said to carry the highest risk of harm and dependency, so they carry the highest sentences for possession. It is not uncommon for possession of over 10 grams of a schedule one substance to result in a third-degree or first-degree felony charge.
Details on the five schedules of drugs are as follows:
- Schedule one – These drugs have the highest capacity for addiction, harm, and abuse. They currently have no accepted use in the mainstream medical field. Examples include crack cocaine, LSD, heroin, and meth.
- Schedule two – These are the second most risky in terms of abuse and dependency. However, these possess mainstream medical uses and are often prescribed to appropriate patients. Examples include Adderall, OxyContin, methadone, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
- Schedule three – These drugs have a middle-grade risk of harm, dependency, and abuse. Examples include ketamine, steroids, and some codeine products containing less than 90 milligrams.
- Schedule four – These drugs have the second-lowest potential for abuse in the eyes of the law. Examples include Xanax, Valium, and Tramadol.
- Schedule five – These are the drugs with the lowest potential for risk. Examples include Motfen, Lyrica, and codeine-containing cough syrups with less than 200 milligrams.
Other Types of Drug Offences in Tampa, FL.
There are several offenses beyond simple possession or purchasing of an illegal drug that you can be charged with in Tampa.
You may be charged with possession, selling, trafficking, or manufacturing a controlled substance, in that order of severity.
It is also possible to be charged with drug offenses in Tampa, even if you do not have actual drugs in your possession. These charges are called possession of drug paraphernalia. Paraphernalia is a large category that includes any equipment or instruments involved in the use, planting, cultivating, transporting, selling, concealing, producing, manufacturing, or storing of controlled substances.
Possible Defenses Against Drug Charges
Despite the harshness of the drug laws in Florida, there are things that can be done to lessen the consequences of your charges or even get them dismissed entirely. Your criminal defense lawyer can get the charges against you reduced. This is a good way to get around mandatory minimum sentencing rules, which could see you end up with three years, five years, or even 30 years in prison.
It is important to remember that your Tampa controlled substance lawyer will base your defense around the intricate details relating to the exact circumstances of your arrest. However, we have listed a number of common defenses below:
- You may have been the victim of deliberate entrapment on the part of the arresting officers.
- You may not have actually owned the illegal substance that was found on your person.
- The controlled substance may have been misidentified by the police officers.
- The evidence held against you may have been obtained in a manner that was not in the bounds of the law, and would therefore be inadmissible.
- You may have been identified incorrectly as the one in possession of the illegal drug.
- The warrant used in the search and seizure of the controlled substance may have been invalid, or the officers may have acted without a warrant.
- The seized substance may have been weighed incorrectly.
If you would like to know how a lawyer from The Law Place would design your defense around you, feel free to get in touch at any time of the day or night for a free consultation. We will be happy to give you a solid idea of what opportunities your case has for penalty minimization.
Investigating Your Arrest
One thing which The Law Place will always do if you have been accused of purchasing controlled substances in amounts of 10 grams or greater is to investigate your arrest thoroughly.
This investigation will be conducted not only on the circumstances surrounding the lawfulness of your arrest but also on the quality of the evidence and the manner of its acquisition.
Any flaw in the methods employed by the officers responsible for your arrest or processing can become key to your defense in the courtroom. If your legal rights have been breached in any way, such as a violation of the Fourth Amendment, your criminal defense lawyer may be able to request a motion to get all of the evidence held against you suppressed, so that is no longer viable in court. The same is true if the police officers acted in a way that was outside the bounds of legality detailed in the constitution or any other relevant laws.
If your criminal defense attorney succeeds in getting the evidence held against you suppressed, and thus inadmissible, it is very unlikely that the prosecution would be able to convict you for your charges. This is one way in which a situation that seems hopeless, like staring down a first-degree felony, can be turned around with the right level of professional representation.
If reading this has given you some hope when you are feeling hopeless, be sure to get in contact with someone at the Tampa office of The Law Place. Even if you are facing a first-degree felony, which could result in many years in prison, there remains hope for you.
What Else Can the Correct Legal Representation Achieve for Me?
There are many benefits to having representation by a defense attorney who is well-versed in Florida’s complex drug laws. This is equally true whether you are facing a misdemeanor charge or a first-degree felony charge.
As discussed above, there are ways your attorney can get the charges leveled against you dropped entirely. If this is not possible, your attorney may still be able to get them downgraded. This is a good way to get around mandatory minimum sentencing rules, as if you have a first-degree felony and it is mitigated to a third-degree, the amount of jail time will decrease.
There is also the additional factor that seeking legal representation portrays you as professional and shows that you are taking your case seriously. This can have a profound impact on your perception by the judge and jury, and they may treat you more leniently.
Criteria for Choosing Your Defense Attorney
As we have just stressed, your representation in court for drug crimes is incredibly important. They could be the only thing standing between you and a considerable period of incarceration, not to mention financially crippling fines. There are a huge amount of potential law firms and attorneys out there, so choosing the right one can be a daunting task.
The following are the attributes you should look for when selecting your representation:
- Trust – One of the most important factors in choosing your representation is trust. While all attorneys are bound by the attorney-client confidentiality relationship, this is different from interpersonal trust. You must feel comfortable enough to share every detail of your situation with your attorney for them to be able to tailor the best defense to you.
- Experience – It is important that your representation has experience not only in defending those charged with similar offenses to you but also that they have experience winning those cases. It is also worth inquiring how many trails they have had involvement in litigating.
- Negotiation – This is another key skill, for a drug offense attorneys especially. To work around mandatory minimum sentences, your attorney must be a shrewd negotiator. It is worth enquiring as to their plea bargain record.
- References – It is important that you ask your potential representation for references and testimonials to see the experience of their previous clients. If they refuse, this should be taken as a red flag, and it should be assumed they are hiding a bad track record. Thankfully, because of the internet, it has never been easier to access a wealth of reviews independently.
Here at The Law Place, we are confident our team of experienced drug offense attorneys can pass all of these criteria with flying colors. If you would like more information, don’t hesitate to get in contact with a member of our team.
Contact The Law Place Today
As you have seen, the laws surrounding drug use in Florida are both mindbogglingly complex and harsh enough to be potentially life-altering. However, this is no reason to be intimidated into non-action. If you head into court without appropriate legal representation from someone with the experience, passion, and skill to win your case, you will likely pay the price. There has never been a better moment to start seeking the correct legal representation.
With representation by The Law Place you will benefit from an experienced team with a track record of success. Unlike many other law firms, all our lawyers will operate your case as a team, sharing their unique perspectives and knowledge in order to sharpen your defense to the highest level. Our team also possess over 75 years of combined experience dealing with and winning drug possession cases just like yours.
If you would like to find out more about how our team can help you, we offer free consultations, and our lines are always open to work around your prior commitments. All of our consultations operate on a no-obligation basis, and all of the information you share with us will be entirely confidential.
For the best chance of facing your future with the lowest level of consequences for your mistakes, get in touch with our skilled and compassionate team by calling (941) 444-4444 today!