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Is Drug Possession a Felony?

July 17, 2012
By The Wiseman Law Firm

In Florida, most drug possession charges are felony offenses except for possession of small amounts of marijuana. For the most part, Florida is very strict in imposing severe penalties for possession of a controlled substance or for the unlawful possession of prescription medication.

Marijuana Possession

Possession of small amounts of marijuana (otherwise known as cannabis) is not treated as harshly as other drugs. Florida law considers possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana as a first degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail, one years’ probation and a fine of $1,000.

Should you get charged with possession of more than 20 grams, it is a third degree felony which is punishable by up to five years in prison, five years’ probation, and a fine up to $5000.

Possession of Controlled Substances

For drugs other than marijuana that are listed as controlled substances, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and ecstasy, the offenses range from third degree felonies to first degree felonies. For example, possession of more than 10 grams of heroin and other opiate substances can be charged as a first degree felony which is punishable by a maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years and a fine up to $10,000.

Possession of Unlawful Chemicals

Florida has banned certain chemicals which are commonly used to manufacture drugs such as methamphetamines, ecstasy and other drugs. Possession of these types of drugs is a second degree felony. This type of felony is punishable by up to15 years in prison, 15 years’ probation and a fine of $10,000.

Possession of Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia includes pipes, bongs, syringes, scales, containers, bags, and other devices. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail, 1 years’ probation and a $1000 fine. Sometimes, possession of paraphernalia alone is not a crime. However, when the paraphernalia is found along with drugs, you will likely be charged with possession of paraphernalia and a drug possession charge.

Prescription Drugs Possession

Prescription drugs are obviously not illegal unless you cannot produce evidence of a valid doctor’s prescription and the drugs are stimulants or pain killers. Possession of prescription drugs without a valid prescription is a third degree felony.

Collateral Penalties

Any drug possession conviction, regardless if it is a misdemeanor or a felony, will result in suspension of your driving privileges for up to two years.

Drug Courts

Florida does have a Drug Court Treatment Program for those offenders who are over 18 and have no prior felony convictions. The program lasts a minimum of one year and is designed to treat those offenders who demonstrate addiction. If you are admitted into a program, your criminal charges are continued until you complete all the requirements. Upon successful completion, the charges are usually dismissed.

You are generally not eligible for such programs if you were charged with selling or dealing in controlled substances. Contact The Wiseman Law Firm for a free consultation today.

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