In Florida, drug possession is when a person is physically holding a controlled substance – whether in their hands or on their person, such as in a pocket. The definition does not include making, selling, or distributing the drug. However, a person in possession of a controlled substance could also be charged with intent to sell even if they did not actually distribute it but prosecution has evidence that it was intended for sale. Most possession charges are felonies, except for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, which is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.
Controlled substances are categorized into the following 5 schedules, which are based on the likelihood of abuse:
- Schedule 1: High potential for abuse and no medical use of the substance
- Schedule 2: High potential for abuse and medical use is severely restricted
- Schedule 3: Less potential for abuse and there is an accepted medical use
- Schedule 4: Lower potential for abuse and there is an accepted medical use
- Schedule 5: Lowest potential for abuse and there is an accepted medical use
Two Divisions of Possession
Florida divides possession into actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is when a person has physical control over a substance. Constructive possession is when the person does not have physical control of the substance but has knowledge that it is nearby and they have the potential to take control of it. For example, if Amy’s friend is driving her to the store, and there are drugs in the glove compartment which Amy knew were there, she could be charged with constructive possession.
The Burden of Proof Rests on the Prosecution
For a person to be convicted of possession, the prosecutor has to provide evidence showing that the individual committed the offense.
To do that, the prosecutor must prove 3 things:
- That the material found on the defendant is a controlled substance
- That the defendant knew or should have known that the substance is illegal
- That the defendant was in physical control of the substance
Potential Penalties for a Possession Conviction
Florida views possession of a controlled substance as a serious offense. The potential penalties for a conviction are quite severe and vary depending on the type and amount of the substance. Additionally, the consequences increase for each subsequent offense.
Potential penalties include:
Misdemeanor possession in the first degree
- Charged for possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana (except medicinal marijuana)
- Up to 1 year in jail, and/or up to $1,000 in fines
Felony possession in the third degree
- Charged for possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, up to 28 grams of cocaine, up to 10 grams of ecstasy, up to 1 gram of LSD, and up to 4 grams of heroin
- Up to 5 years in prison, and/or up to $5,000 in fines
Felony possession in the second degree
- Charged for possession of chemicals used to make drugs
- Up to 15 years in prison, and/or up to $10,000 in fines
Felony possession in the first degree
- Charged for possession of more than 25 pounds of marijuana, more than 28 grams of cocaine, more than 10 grams of ecstasy, more than 1 gram of LSD, and more than 4 grams of heroin
- Up to 30 years in prison, and/or fines of up to $10,000
For a Free Consultation, Call The Wiseman Law Firm at (407) 708-9127
If you have been arrested for drug possession, it is imperative to seek legal help immediately. A skilled lawyer can help you understand your rights and what you can expect if the prosecutor presses charges and pursues your case. Facing charges and a possible conviction can be a frightening and stressful experience. Our lawyers at The Wiseman Law Firm will provide strong legal counsel and fight hard for you to help obtain a favorable result in your case.
To discuss your case with our attorneys, call as at (407) 708-9127 or contact us online.