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
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
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.