Florida Drug Possession Defense
Florida law enforcement officers made 134,396 arrests for drugs/narcotics offenses in 2018. The data show the number of arrests has been rising every year since 2015 and are nearing their highest levels in more than a decade. While other states move to decriminalize non-violent drug offenses such as simple possession, Florida police and prosecutors continue to zealously wage the “war on drugs” and vigorously enforce Florida drug laws, including possession offenses.
There is hope for the criminally accused, however. As a person accused of a crime, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the right to an attorney, and an experienced Florida drug possession defense attorney can look over your case and identify the best path forward. You might have valid defenses to the charges against you, or the police may have made mistakes that can be the basis for getting the charges dropped or the case thrown out. Your attorney could also negotiate a favorable outcome for you such as probation or diversion.
Your first step after an arrest is to call an experienced and successful criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case and advise you of your options. At Meldon Law, you’ll get honest advice from dedicated defense attorneys who will use their knowledge and skills to fight for the best outcome in your case. If you’ve been charged with drug possession in Florida, call Meldon Law for help from a team of seasoned and committed Florida drug possession defense attorneys.
What Is Drug Possession in Florida?
The crime of drug possession requires being found in actual or constructive possession of illegal narcotics or controlled substances as defined in Florida law. Depending on the type of drug and the quantity alleged, possession can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony. This is a very important distinction. A first-degree misdemeanor can be punished with up to a year in jail plus $1,000 in fines, while conviction on a third-degree felony carries the possibility of five years in prison plus a $5,000 fine.
What does the law mean when it says “actual” or “constructive” possession?
Actual possession means actually having drugs on you – in your hand, in your pockets, etc.
Constructive possession means that drugs were found in a place that you had control over – your car, your bedroom, the living room where you are sitting, etc.
Depending on the quantity of drugs present, the authorities might charge either simple possession or possession with intent to sell. Possession with intent is a more serious crime with more severe penalties. It’s not uncommon for the prosecutor to charge or threaten you with intent to sell in the hopes you will plead guilty to simple possession to avoid the more serious charge. This might be a good idea for you, or it might be a prosecutor’s trick; get good advice from a attorney before you plead guilty to any charge. A plea deal isn’t always in your best interest, such as when the prosecutor’s evidence doesn’t support a possession charge or you have strong defenses against the charges.
What Defenses Are There to Drug Possession?
Here are some of the main defenses to possession charges, but others might be available as well. Every case is unique and requires individualized attention from a knowledgeable defense attorney.
Illegal search and seizure – The police stopped your car without reasonable suspicion or probable cause or entered your home without a warrant and searched you or your premises unlawfully. A lawful search must be justified at its inception and cannot go beyond those bounds. The Constitution forbids unreasonable searches and seizures, and any drugs found in an illegal search cannot be used against you.
The drugs aren’t yours – Being in physical possession of illegal drugs (actual or constructive possession) is only one element of the crime of possession. The prosecution also has to prove that you knew about the drugs or intended to possess them. Just because you were in a room where drugs were present does not mean that you knew they were there, that you knew the items were drugs, or that you knew it was an illegal substance.
The government doesn’t present the drugs in court – Part of the state’s job is to prove the substance in question is an illegal drug and how much of it there is. They can’t do that without presenting the substance in court, establishing a chain of custody and laboratory analysis, and submitting the evidence to cross-examination by the defense. If the prosecution doesn’t bring the drugs to court or can’t establish these facts beyond a reasonable doubt, they haven’t proven their case.
Entrapment – Police officers regularly go undercover and induce people to buy or sell drugs. If you possessed drugs for your personal use and were coerced into selling them, a charge of possession with intent to sell might or might not stick. There is a fine line between lawful police stings and unlawful entrapment; when the police cross the line, you might have a valid entrapment defense to protect your rights and deter overzealous and unlawful police conduct.
Get Immediate Help With Florida Drug Crime Charges
If you’ve been arrested on drug charges in Florida, don’t take chances with your future. Get help from a team of experienced and dedicated Florida criminal defense attorneys who have been on both sides of drug cases as both prosecutors and attorneys for the defense. Call Meldon Law at 800-373-8000 for attorneys who will fight for you and won’t back down.