Florida is known being “tough” on people convicted of drug crimes, and the consequences of a conviction do not end in the courtroom. A conviction for a drug offense can lead to the suspension of a driver’s license, preclusion from certain careers, and even end eligibility for federal financial aid for higher education. An understanding of Florida’s complex drug laws are essential in order to build an effective defense and increase your chances of a positive outcome to your case.
“Possession” in the legal sense of the word can mean a number of different things. For example, in constructive possession cases, the drugs are not found “on” a person, but found near someone who exercised “dominion and control” over the drugs. This is most often seen in cases where drugs are found in a vehicle with multiple occupants who do not claim ownership of the drugs found. If a police dog was used to sniff your car, it is important to have an attorney review the training log of the K-9 to see how reliable that particular dog is in locating contraband. If the dog can be shown to be unreliable, it could lead to a Judge’s determination that the officer lacked probable cause to search your vehicle. In other instances, officers may have searched you and located the drugs on your person. It is important to analyze your encounter with police, to see if your constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures were violated. If so, it may be possible to prevent the drugs from being used as evidence against you. In any type of possession case, you should contact a lawyer to discuss your options, as the potential punishments vary by the type of drug that law enforcement discovered.
Possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a first degree misdemeanor in the State of Florida. Punishable by 11 months and 29 days in the county jail. Drug paraphernalia need not be the pipes and syringes that commonly come to mind when thinking of the term. Anything used for cultivating, storing, packaging, concealing, transporting, injecting, smoking, or otherwise introducing the substance into the body is considered paraphernalia. This means scales, plastic baggies, rolling papers, fake safes, etc. can all fall under the charge, and be charged as an individual count. Many of the same defenses to drug possession may also be available for possession of paraphernalia.
Drug sale charges can sometimes carry mandatory prison sentences. Sale charges usually arise when an officer witnesses the exchange of money for drugs or, as a result of an undercover operation involving the use of informants, audio and video recording devices, and undercover police officers. These undercover operations are usually set up by law enforcement in such a way as to maximize the potential prison sentence. However, as the police methods of drug interdiction become more sophisticated, more and more legal issues present themselves. Entrapment defenses, legality of warrants, and improper police conduct have all been used as defenses to sale charges. Contact a lawyer to discuss the specifics of your charge and to start building a defense.
Commonly confused with a drug sale charge, drug trafficking is generally defined as being in possession of a large quantity of illicit drugs. In these types of cases, precise weight measurements must be taken to ensure that the drugs seized by law enforcement weigh enough to qualify for the drug trafficking statute. The severity of the punishments increase with the amount of drugs found by police, and get even worse if a firearm is located nearby.