Drug Possession

Possession of a controlled substance is a serious offense under both State and Federal law.  Under Florida law, it is a felony to actually or constructively possess any amount of Cocaine, Heroin, Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Bath Salts, Flakka, Gravel), MDMA (Molly, Ecstasy), LSD, Scheduled Prescription Medications without a current prescription from a licensed medical doctor, and other controlled substances.

To be convicted under Florida State law, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following: 1.  The Defendant knew of the presence of a substance; 2.  The Defendant exercised control or ownership over that substance; and 3.  The substance was the specific controlled substance it was alleged to be.

If convicted of the illegal possession of a controlled substance, the possibility of imprisonment is very real.  For example, one found to be in possession of a control substance commits a felony of third degree.  Conviction of this offense is punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed 5 years.  However, Florida has specifically legislated that anyone found to be in possession of 10 or more grams of Heroin, in addition to other itemized substances, to have committed a felony of the first degree.  Conviction of this offense is punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 years.  Often the criminal possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis (marijuana), in the State of Florida, is a misdemeanor of the first degree. If convicted, one faces no more than 1 year of imprisonment and/or a fine of not more than $1000.  Possession of cannabis over 20 grams would be a felony of third degree.  It should be also noted that Florida Drug Trafficking Laws are very strict and apply to all of the aforementioned substances. Drug Trafficking violations are subject to mandatory minimum sentencing.  Also, keep in mind that one may still be charged under the Drug Trafficking Laws even if they deem their possession of a certain substance and amount to be for personal use.

In addition, Florida has a Habitual Felon Law where the court may increase the term of imprisonment upon a third felony conviction.  For example, if a defendant were to have two prior felonies, one of which was committed in the last 5 years, and no pardons exist, the court may increase the term of imprisonment for the third felony conviction.  A third degree felony would increase from no more than 5 years imprisonment to no more than 10 years of imprisonment.  A second degree felony may be increased from no more than 15 years imprisonment to no more than 30 years imprisonment. A first degree felony may be increased from no more than 30 years imprisonment to life imprisonment.  As such, it is important for one to have an attorney with the proper expertise in this area of law if they have been arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, or with their third felony controlled substance violation.

Under Federal law, it may be a felony for any person to knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance unless such substance was obtained directly, or pursuant to a valid prescription or order, from a practitioner, while acting in the course of his professional practice.

To be convicted under Federal law, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following: 1.  That the defendant had knowing possession, or constructive possession of a controlled substance through ownership, dominion, or control over the contraband itself or the premises on which it was concealed.

Under Federal law, one found to be in possession of a controlled substance may have committed a felony.  Conviction of this offense is punishable by minimal fine of $1,000 and/or a term of imprisonment of 1 day to no more than 3 years.

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