Florida does not handle drug possession lightly. An individual found to possess a prohibited controlled substance in Florida will be subject to penalties depending on the amount and type of drug in possession. Keep reading today’s blog to learn about how Florida classifies particular drugs and the potential associated penalties.
Elements of a Drug Possession Charge
Possession of most controlled substances addressed by Florida state laws, except for the use of medical marijuana through a doctor’s recommendation, may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Note that the charge of "possession with intent to sell" includes all legal elements of simple possession but also requires proof of the defendant’s intent to sell or distribute the drugs. The specific charge (as a felony or misdemeanor) depends on the type and amount of the controlled substance.
The statutory elements of a drug possession charge are:
- The illegal nature of the controlled substance. The prosecutor must present evidence that the seized material is a controlled substance prohibited by Florida law. This usually requires scientific analysis by a crime lab.
- The defendant’s knowledge of the drug. The prosecutor must show that the defendant knew or should have known about the illicit nature of the controlled substance and its presence.
- The defendant’s control of the drug. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant had control over the location and presence of the controlled substance. A prosecutor likely has a more straightforward case if the defendant had the drugs on their body or in a container they held.
If the prosecution is able to prove the above elements, you will likely face a drug possession or distribution conviction.
Drug Schedules in Florida
To better understand the illicit nature of drugs as defined by Florida and the severity of your charge based on the drug you allegedly possessed, it will be helpful to understand the 5 drug schedules classified by Florida law.
A substance in Schedule I has a high potential for abuse and currently has no accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Use of a Schedule I drug under medical supervision also does not meet accepted safety standards. The following are some common controlled substances in Schedule I:
- LSD (Acid)
A Schedule II drug also has a high potential for abuse, though it has a currently accepted but severely restricted medical use in treatment. However, abuse of a Schedule II substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. The following substances are some common drugs addressed in Schedule II:
A substance in Schedule III has a potential for abuse less than Schedule I and II substances and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment. Abuse of a Schedule III substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence or, in the case of anabolic steroids, may lead to physical damage. Anabolic steroids and ketamine are a couple examples of commonly seen Schedule III drugs.
A substance in Schedule IV has a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule III and has an accepted medical use in treatment. Abuse of such a substance may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence relative to the substances in Schedule III, and an example of a Schedule IV drug prohibited in the state is modafinil.
A substance, compound, mixture, or preparation of a substance in Schedule V has a low potential for abuse in relation to the substances in Schedule IV. Schedule V drugs have an accepted medical use in treatment, and abuse of such a compound, mixture, or preparation may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence.
Some examples of Schedule V drugs include:
- Up to 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams
- Up to 100 milligrams of opium per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams
Penalties and Sentencing
A first degree misdemeanor for possession involves up to 20 g marijuana (except for legally possessed medical marijuana). A first degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, as well as court costs. Those with at least 4 prior convictions may face 1 year in jail, mandatory treatment, or home detention of up to 1 year.
A third degree felony possession involves possession of more than 20 g of illegal marijuana, up to 28 g of cocaine, up to 10 g of MDMA/ecstasy, up to 1 g of LSD, and up to 4 g of heroin/opiate. Such a conviction is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
Individuals may be charged with first degree felony possession if they possess more than 25 lbs. of marijuana, more than 28 g of cocaine, more than 10 g of MDMA/ecstasy, more than 1 g of LSD, more than 4 g of heroin/opiate. A first degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison, up to $250,000 in fines, and state-specific mandatory minimums depending on the type and amount of drug.
Defending Against a Charge
A defendant and their attorney could pursue a few different arguments to defend against their charge, such as claiming:
- lack of knowledge that the material was a controlled substance;
- valid prescription from a medical professional;
- entrapment arranged by police;
- Fourth Amendment violation due to unlawful search and seizure;
- use of cannabis in accordance with Florida’s medical marijuana law.
Let The Wiseman Law Firm Fight for You
If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance prohibited by Florida law, it is critical that you seek an attorney immediately to represent your defense. Florida classifies illicit drugs into 5 different schedules, and the penalties and sentencing you expect to face will depend on the amount and type of drug you’ve been found to possess. An experienced attorney can help you fight your charge and argue for mitigated or dismissed charges, based on the circumstances of your alleged possession.
Contact The Wiseman Law Firm to speak with an attorney about your drug-related case today!