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Former State Prosecutor
Being accused of a drug crime in Florida comes with serious consequences. How best to handle your situation can be confusing and overwhelming. Know that you have the legal right to defend yourself against criminal charges. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may be able to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. Drug crimes are prosecuted aggressively in the State of Florida and also at the federal level. Drug crimes often involve possessing, selling, or trafficking prescription medications as well as controlled substances such as cocaine, meth, and heroin. If you are charged with possessing a controlled substance, it can have a substantial impact on your future. Whatever you do, always have a Criminal Defense Attorney review your case to get the best possible outcome.
There are drug crimes that may be prosecuted under state law, most of which are prosecuted as felonies. Such crimes include:
•manufacturing of a controlled substance;
•delivery of a controlled substance;
•possession of a controlled substance;
•possession with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver a controlled substance;
•importation/trafficking of any controlled substance;
•sale of a controlled substance;
•fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance; and
•fraudulently prescribing a controlled substance.
There are other drug crimes besides those listed above. There are a number of other offenses that relate to committing drug offenses near childcare facilities and schools, the selling of controlled substances to minors, and the fraudulent prescribing of controlled substances by healthcare practitioners.
The penalties a drug offender faces upon conviction can range from misdemeanor to felony charges, depending on the type of drug crime committed. Possession of less than 20 grams of Marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia, are the only commonly prosecuted drug charges that are handled in misdemeanor court. Almost all other drug related charges are prosecuted as felonies. Drug charges can be punishable by a fine and relatively short jail sentence for lesser offenses, such as possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis or marijuana, to a harsh fine and a mandatory, long prison sentence for more severe offenses, such as trafficking in a controlled substance like oxycodone or heroin.
If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance, and this is your first offense, there may be another way to get your case dismissed. Ask Brevard County Defense Attorney Jason Hicks about diversion programs and drug court designed to dismiss the cases of first-time offenders.
Jason Hicks will always attempt to get your case dismissed and your record sealed or expunged if you qualify.
If you have been arrested for a drug crime in Florida, you probably have many questions such as: can I get a bond? What penalties will I face? Will I ever be able to get a good job now? Will I be considered a convicted felon? Brevard County Criminal Defense Attorney Jason Hicks can likely answer these questions. He may be able to also tell you what defenses might exist in your case. As a former state prosecutor, Jason Hicks is a knowledgeable and resourceful attorney who will defend your rights and help protect your finances, reputation, and most importantly, your liberty.
•Schedule I - These drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Schedule I drugs include: Heroin, cannabis (according to the government), dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, mescaline, peyote, psilocybin, salvia divinorum, tetrahydrocannabinols (according to the government).
• Schedule II - These drugs also have a high potential for abuse but they also have a limited accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse of Schedule II drugs can lead to severe psychic and physical dependency. Schedule II drugs include: Opium, morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, ocycodone, fentanyl, methadone, amphetamine, methamphetamine, pentobarbital.
• Schedule III - These drugs have less abuse potential than Schedule II or Schedule I drugs and also have an accepted medical use. Abuse of Schedule III drugs may lead to low or moderate physical dependence as well as a high psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs include: Anabolic steroids including stanozolol, testosterone, trenbolone and others. Additional schedule III drugs include benzphetamine, lysergic acid, nalorphine, and ketamine.
• Schedule IV - These drugs have less potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs and also have an accepted medical use. The abuse of Schedule IV drugs may lead to light physical or psychological dependence. Schedule IV drugs include: Alprazolam, barbital, clonazepam, diazepam, lorazepam, phenobarbital, and quazepam.
•Schedule V - These drugs have the least potential for abuse and also have a current and accepted medical use. There is limited risk of physical or psychological dependency. Schedule V drugs include: Any medicine that contains small amounts of specified narcotic drugs:
1. Not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams.
2. Not more than 100 milligrams of dihydrocodeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams.
3. Not more than 100 milligrams of ethylmorphine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams.
4. Not more than 2.5 milligrams of diphenoxylate and not less than 25 micrograms of atropine sulfate per dosage unit.
5. Not more than 100 milligrams of opium per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams.
(b) Narcotic drugs. Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation containing any of the following narcotic drugs and their salts: Buprenorphine.
(c) Stimulants. Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of the following substances having a stimulant effect on the central nervous system, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers: Pyrovalerone.
Florida does not take ownership into consideration when it comes to possession crimes. What that means is that even if the controlled substance does not belong to you, you are still criminally liable for the actual or constructive possession of the substance.
Actual Possession: Actual possession of a controlled substance is the result of the substance being in the physical custody of a defendant. Actual possession occurs when there is a controlled substance in the defendant's hand, pocket of a jacket, or tucked into a shoe or sock.
Constructive Possession: Constructive possession of a controlled substance occurs when a defendant has knowledge of the whereabouts of the substance, as well as the ability to access and control the substance. Constructive possession can occur in a vehicle if the substance is in a defendant's glove box, or if at a home, when the substance is in a defendant's personal room or location within the house.
First Degree Felony Possession: First degree felony possession occurs if a defendant is in possession of 10 grams or more of any Schedule I drug excluding Hallucinogens, 1,4-Butanediol, gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), methaqualone and mecloqualone. First degree felony possession is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 and incarceration of up to 30 years.
Third Degree Felony Possession: Possession of any controlled substance not mentioned here, whether actual or constructive, is a felony of the third degree which is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, a period of incarceration not to exceed five (5) years, or both. Substances obtained by valid prescription are excluded.
Misdemeanor Possession of the First Degree: The possession of the following controlled substances is a misdemeanor of the first degree and is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both: •up to 20 grams of marijuana •up to three grams of 2-[(1R,3S)-3-hydroxycyclohexyl]-5-(2-methyloctan-2-yl)phenol •up to three grams of (6aR,10aR)-9-(hydroxymethyl)-6,6-dimethyl-3-(2-methyloctan-2-yl)-6a,7,10,10a-tetrahydrobenzo •up to three grams of [c]chromen-1-ol •up to three grams of 48. 1-Pentyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole, or •up to three grams of 49. 1-Butyl-3-(1-naphthoyl)indole.
Repeat Offenders: Any defendant in Florida will be faced with harsher penalties for multiple convictions. Repeat Felony Offenses: In Florida, any defendant who has two or more prior felony convictions will face an increased penalty for subsequent convictions. Therefore, a subsequent conviction of a first degree felony can result in a sentence to incarceration for life. Subsequent convictions for a third degree felony can result in sentencing to incarceration for up to ten (10) years. * See Florida Criminal Code Section 775.084 for more information.
Repeat Misdemeanor Offenses: Any defendant in Florida who has four (4) or more prior convictions for misdemeanors may face one of the following additional penalties: ◦six (6) months to one (1) year incarceration ◦home detention for six (6) months up to 364 days ◦enrollment in a residential treatment program
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