In the State of Florida, possessing and trafficking drugs are major crimes that attract serious penalties. You could be facing a long time in jail, probation, drivers’ license suspension, probation, and hefty fines. This is why you shouldn’t take drug charges lightly. But is there a way you can get your charges dropped or jail time reduced? What can you do to get the best possible outcome?
At Shrader Law, PLLC, we know how serious drug charges can be, and we have helped many clients like you in fighting their drug crime charges. Our attorneys have worked with prosecutors across the state, and they have the experience and insight on how the prosecution will approach your drug case. They will use this knowledge to develop an effective defense that puts your needs and rights at the forefront of your case.
If you are facing drug charges, the penalties you face will depend mainly on some factors, including the type of drug, the quantity, and what your intentions were. For example, if you are arrested for selling drugs, you will often face harsher penalties than a person who was caught just in possession of a particular substance.
In Florida, drugs are divided into five schedules, depending on their risk of addiction and accepted medical uses. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous, while Schedule V substances are the least severe.
Schedule I: These are the drugs that have a high potential for addiction, such as LSD and heroin. These drugs do not have acceptable medical uses. It is important to know that marijuana still falls under this category under Florida law.
Schedule II: Substances under this category have a high potential for usage, but they have some accepted medical uses. Drugs such as cocaine, PCP, opioids, morphine, and some types of methamphetamines fall under this category, and they have severe physical and psychological dependence.
Schedule III: These are drugs with a high risk of abuse, and they have accepted medical uses. Drugs such as anabolic steroids and codeine have a low chance of physical dependence, but they have a high likelihood of psychological dependence.
Schedule IV: Substances under this category have a low potential for abuse, they are unlikely to cause physical and psychological dependence, and they have widely accepted medical uses. Diazepam is one of the drugs that fall into this category.
Schedule V: These drugs have a low potential for abuse, they have a low likelihood of physical and psychological dependence, and they have accepted medical uses. A drug such as Tylenol 4 falls under this category.
Florida divides drug crimes into either misdemeanors or felonies, with most of the drug crimes except possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia fitting into the felony category. Although being caught with possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana and other drugs that fall under Schedule IV are considered as misdemeanors of the first degree, they can carry a fine of up to $1,000, probation, drivers’ license suspension, and up to a year in jail.
Felony drug crimes have harsher penalties. Most felony charges can have a sentence of more than one-year jail time with serious charges carrying decades of prison time and fines exceeding $10,000. While Florida hasn’t made any state-wide effort to officially decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, in 2014, it became the 22nd state to legalize medical cannabis use. However, only patients with a physician’s recommendation can legally obtain it.
Whether you have been arrested for simply possessing drugs or alleged to have an intent to distribute or sell drugs, you will be facing serious charges. The first and most important step you should take is to consult a Shrader Law, PLLC criminal defense attorney. To be convicted, the state must prove that the drugs found on you were illegal and were yours. However, your attorney will know defenses to fight these charges.
Violation of your Fourth Amendment rights: If the drugs found on you were obtained through an unlawful search and seizure, the contraband drugs would be inadmissible in a court of law, and your case can be dismissed. Consult with our attorneys to see if your search was unlawful.
Possession issues: If the prosecutor cannot connect the drugs to your actual person, they may not be able to prove that you had the intention to possess the drugs. For example, if the drugs were in a common area of a car occupied by multiple people, the prosecutor may not be able to establish your ownership of the drugs unless you admit to possessing the drugs.
Compromise: If your lawyer cannot get the charges against you dropped, they can strike a plea bargain deal on your behalf. This is where you plead guilty or no contest in exchange for a reduced sentence, possibly not requiring a conviction. Depending on your individual situation, a plea bargain could include probation, a reduced jail time, or a drug treatment program.
Being convicted of a drug crime can affect your future in many ways. A background check can alert future educational institutions, landlords, employers, professional licensing agencies, and more of your criminal conviction. To preserve your freedom and future, contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys today.