What constitutes a drug possession charge?
Every state has different definitions of drug possession. In Florida, a drug possession charge must meet some very specific requirements. If there is no evidence that your case meets those requirements, the court could drop your charges.
What is Possession in Florida?
Based on the laws in Florida, all drug offenders are treated harshly, even those only accused of possession. Although charges like intent to sell and trafficking come with more severe sentences, the penalty for possession may still change your life.
If you did not make, distribute, or sell a controlled substance but had it in your possession, you could be charged with possession. Typically, those charged with possession only have a small amount of drugs on their person. If you’re found with a large quantity of drugs, you’re likely to be charged with trafficking.
The possession could be actual or constructive. If no one else had access to the drugs and they were found on your person or in your clothing, you would be accused of actual possession. However, constructive possession involves multiple parties. If the drugs were found in a communal area or a place in which other people had access to and knowledge of the drugs, you would be charged with constructive possession.
The Elements of the Case
If a prosecutor wants to convict you, they need to prove several elements. First, they must show that you had knowledge of the presence of the drug. You must also have had control of the drug, although direct contact is not a requirement. Finally, the prosecutor needs to show that the drug was actually a controlled substance.
The way in which the drugs were found also matters. If the police performed an illegal search, the case will likely be thrown out.
Penalties for Drug Possession
In Florida, the penalty for drug possession could be a first, second, or third-degree felony. However, some charges could be filed as a misdemeanor crime. Specifically, having under 20 grams of marijuana in your possession may only be a misdemeanor. In this case, the penalty would be up to one year in jail and a fine as high as $1,000.
Certain drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, are often charged as third-degree felonies. For this charge, you might be sentenced to as much as five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
If the court charges you with a first-degree felony, you will face the harshest of drug possession felonies. Typically, people found with more than ten grams of heroin are charged as a first-degree felony. The penalty is as many as 30 years in prison and a fine as high as $10,000.
In addition to spending time in jail, your conviction could affect you in other ways. You may have your driver’s license suspended, be ineligible for college financial aid, or be prohibited from working certain government jobs.
Working with an Experienced Lawyer
In 2017, there were 40,469 arrests in Orange County. Many of those arrests were for drug-related crimes, such as possession.
Fortunately, your arrest doesn’t need to ruin your life. By working with a drug possession lawyer in Orlando, you can fight your charges. They may be able to get the charges dropped or get your sentence lessened.
The outcome of your case depends on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the expertise of your attorney. If you’re ready to take on the court, contact a lawyer today.