Many people in the state of Florida know that possessing certain types of drugs carries criminal consequences. However, the reality is that most people do not know what the consequences of drug possession are and don’t start thinking about them unless they have been charged with an offense. Unlike some other states, Florida takes a hard stance on drugs. If you are caught with drugs in Florida, you could be facing serious criminal charges. While laws about some drugs, such as medical marijuana, have changed for the better, many other drugs are still forbidden, and violation of these laws carry heavy penalties. Here’s more on drug possession in Florida, including how a Florida drug crime lawyer can help you if you have been charged.
Florida law has five different “schedules,” or levels, of illegal drugs. Schedule I drugs are thought to have the most potential to be abused, with no medical use. At the other end, Schedule V drugs have the least potential for drug abuse, and they also have recognized medical use.
Some of the drugs in Schedules I-III under Florida law include:
- Heroin, peyote, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), cannabis, and tetrahydrocannabinols
- Hydrocodone, morphine, opium, all parts of the poppy plant, oxycodone, cocaine, and methamphetamine
- Anabolic steroids
If you are facing drug possession charges in the state, it could mean serious penalties. An experienced lawyer is critical when you’ve been charged with possession.
Potential Penalties For Possession
Holding less than 20 grams of marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor. While that sounds like a minor crime, the legal penalty can include up to one year in jail if convicted.
For larger amounts or more serious drugs, you could be charged with a felony. A felony conviction is usually punished by a prison term. You can face a five-year sentence for a third-degree felony, and up to 30 years for a first-degree felony.
For example, carrying these can be charged as a third-degree felony:
- More than 20 grams of marijuana, up to 25 pounds
- Under a gram of LSD
- Under 4 grams of heroin
- Under 28 grams of cocaine
If you’re caught with more, you could face up to first-degree felony charges.
Search And Seizure
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that no American should have to face an unreasonable search of their homes, themselves, or things they own, like their car. The Florida Constitution protects this right to privacy as well.
The question of what is “reasonable” when police try to search you or your car is sometimes a tough question to answer. Basically, police officers must have a reasonable, good-faith belief that there is probable cause to search you or your car. While a search of your home usually requires a warrant signed by a judge, you or your car can be moved more easily, so police officers are allowed to make a quick decision to search – but only if they have probable cause.
Probable cause means that the officers must be able to explain to you or a judge why they suspected that they’d find what they were searching for, whether drugs or a weapon or something else. The level of suspicion that police officers need to justify a search is pretty strict, but sometimes they might get around that by convincing the driver to give permission. In other cases, the officer may call for a drug-sniffing dog to examine the outside of the car.
Being accused of a drug crime isn’t the end. The rules about drug possession are complex and require that the prosecutor prove every element of the crime that you are accused of violating, beyond a reasonable doubt.
With an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can figure out all of your potential defenses and prepare to answer the charges. But if you have been charged with drug possession crimes, time is of the essence: the court has a strict schedule for when your answer to the charges is due, as well as all the other key events needed to keep the case moving forward toward resolution.
Koberlein Law Offices – Criminal Defense Lawyers
To learn more about drug offenses including the defensive strategies that can help you avoid getting convicted, you should get in touch with a skilled criminal defense attorney. They should be familiar with Florida’s drug crimes and criminal justice process, and should be prepared to help you with your situation if you have been charged with a drug crime. At Koberlein Law Offices, our experienced attorneys know how to successfully defend clients against misdemeanor and felony drug charges. We will help ensure that your rights are protected and that you get placed in the best possible situation. To learn more about how we can help you, reach out to Koberlein Law Offices today by calling us toll-free at 877.556.2889 or by contacting us online.