In Venice, Florida, being convicted of a drug crime such as the possession of a controlled substance can lead to severe penalties and have long-lasting impacts on your family, job, and future. It is essential that you seek a criminal defense lawyer to guide you through this process.
In the State of Florida, it is illegal to possess, manufacture, or traffic controlled substances. Breaking this law can lead to large fines, court fees, time in jail, and the knock-on impacts of these on your ability to find a job or to rent housing. Even minor cases can have huge penalties in Venice, Florida. The classification of the drug charge will depend on factors such as the type of drug, the quantity of the drug, and its intended use. If you are facing a conviction for the possession of controlled substances in Venice, Florida, it is recommended that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At The Law Place, we have extensive experience with drug crime cases and understand how stressful this sort of experience can be. Armed with the knowledge of controlled substance laws in Florida, one of our attorneys can help to give you your best chance of a positive outcome for your case. Our team has over 75 years of combined experience and has a strong reputation for advocating and winning cases for clients facing drug charges.
Call us today for a free consultation, so we can help you understand the charges you might face and what next steps you should take.
Our phone lines are open 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. So call today at (941) 444-4444 for free legal advice.
Florida Drug Statutes
According to Florida Statute 893.13, the possession of controlled substances is regarded as a felony in all situations except if the substance was prescribed by your doctor. There is a long list of substances regarded as ‘controlled substances’ under Florida Statute 893.033, and these are categorized into five schedules. The different schedules of drugs are subject to regulation by the state and federal governments.
To be convicted of drug possession, it must first be proven that:
- The drug was a controlled substance or illegal in nature.
- That you were aware of the drug and its location.
- That you had access to and/or control of the drug.
The penalties and charges given to a person found in possession of a controlled substance will depend on the schedule of the drug, the amount they are carrying, and the intended purpose of the substance. Penalties can range from less than a year in jail to a life sentence.
If a person, for example, is caught in possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana in Venice, this would be considered a misdemeanor. The result of this charge for a first-time offender can be a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Possession of 20 grams of MDMA, on the other hand, will result in a drug trafficking charge, with a minimum 3-year jail sentence, regardless of whether it is your first offense. Being charged with controlled substance possession can often also lead to the suspension of your driver’s license.
The Five Drug Schedules
Controlled substances have been categorized by the State of Florida into five ‘schedules.’ The substances are divided into categories according to how addictive they are and the risk the drug poses to the public. Schedule One drugs are considered by this classification to be the most harmful and addictive, and Schedule Five drugs are considered the least harmful and addictive. This means that the penalties given to people found with Schedule One drugs will be more severe than those found with Schedule Five drugs.
The five schedules are the following:
- Schedule I – Substances that are considered to pose the greatest risk of harm and addiction to the public. They are considered to have no benefit to the field of medicine. These include LSD, heroin, and meth. Possession of these substances carries the highest penalties.
- Schedule II – Substances that are considered to carry the second-highest risk in terms of addiction and harm to the public. They are considered to have some benefit in the field of medicine and are sometimes medically prescribed to patients. This includes drugs such as methamphetamine, methadone, cocaine, Adderall, and Oxycontin.
- Schedule III – Substances that are deemed to have a slight risk of addiction and harm to members of the public. They include ketamine, codeine, and steroids.
- Schedule IV – Substances that are considered to pose a low risk of harm and addiction to the public, including Xanax, Tramadol, Ativan, Valium, and Ambien.
- Schedule V – Substances in this schedule are considered to have the lowest risk for potential abuse, harm, and dependence and so have the lowest associated penalties. They include drugs such as Lomotil, Motfen, and Lyrica.
Some of the most commonly used substances found in each schedule are listed above, but you can find a more thorough list under Florida Statute 893.03.
If you are found carrying large amounts of drugs, this could lead to a drug trafficking charge, meaning that you had the intention to sell, deliver, or manufacture illegal drugs. Drug trafficking is regarded as a third-degree felony, and so has more serious consequences than a possession charge.
For a person to be charged with drug trafficking, the minimum amount of the drug they would need to be found with is:
- 25 pounds of marijuana/cannabis.
- 1 gram of LSD.
- 10 grams of MDMA.
- 7 grams of oxycodone.
- 14 grams of hydrocodone.
- Any amount of heroin.
Possession of any of these amounts of substances carries a mandatory minimum sentence of at least three years, up to a life sentence in prison. If you or someone you know is facing a drug trafficking charge, it is imperative to find a trustworthy and experienced drug crime defense lawyer. They will stand up for you in court and use all their available skills to defend you and try to reduce or even drop the charges against you. Schedule a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers today to discuss your options.
Constructive Possession vs. Actual Possession of a Controlled Substance in Venice
An important distinction when it comes to possession of controlled substances is whether the possession was ‘constructive’ or ‘actual.’ An actual possession charge carries higher penalties.
To be charged with constructive possession of a controlled substance, it must be proved that the person was aware of the drug being present and they were able to access the drugs. On the other hand, for actual possession, the drugs only need to be found on the person. If a person is caught with drugs physically in their possession, for example, in their clothing, then this would be a straightforward actual possession charge. If, on the other hand, it is less clear who was aware of the presence or able to access the drugs, then this may result in a constructive possession charge only.
For example, if a police officer stops a car with more than one person and finds an illegal substance but cannot determine who it belongs to, then the officer may charge everyone present with constructive possession. Therefore, merely being in the presence of drugs is not enough to charge a person with actual possession. The officer will have the burden of proof, and they must provide evidence that you had knowledge of the existence of and access to the drugs. The best thing you can do if you are facing a possible possession of a controlled substance charge is to contact a criminal defense attorney. Call today for no-obligation legal advice specific to your case.
What Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do for Me?
Drug crimes in Florida are considered to be very serious. If you have been caught with controlled or illegal substances, you could face possession charges, driver’s license suspension, huge fines, and even years in prison if you are convicted. For this reason, it is essential that you seek legal representation from a defense attorney as soon as possible. If you call us today, you will receive a free case evaluation from one of our experienced lawyers, who will analyze your case and give you valuable legal advice. If you decide to let us represent you, your attorney will help to build a strong case for your defense to give you the best chance at reducing the charges against you. Your defense attorney will assess, for example:
- If your constitutional rights have been violated.
- Whether there were legitimate grounds for the traffic stop.
- Whether the law enforcement officer had a valid warrant for searching your home or vehicle.
- Whether the law enforcement officer acted in line with proper protocol.
- Whether the controlled substance was prescribed by your doctor.
Call The Law Place Today
If there have been charges brought against you in Venice, Florida, for the possession of controlled substances, we urge you to contact us at The Law Place today. Our team of criminal defense lawyers has many years of experience dealing with drug crime cases like yours and will do everything they can to defend you and your rights. If you let one of our criminal defense attorneys defend you, they will conduct a full investigation into your case to help you, including speaking to witnesses and the prosecutor as well as gathering evidence.
Our firm has built a strong reputation for battling drug possession charges and has over 75 years of combined legal experience. The attorney-client relationship is of great importance to us, and we understand how stressful this sort of situation can be to you and your family.
Our phone lines are open 24hrs a day and 7 days a week. So don’t hesitate, contact us today at (941) 444-4444 for free legal advice regarding your case.