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Possession of Controlled Substance Lawyers in Orlando, FL

Attorney’s Guide to Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida

Understanding the Intricacies of Florida’s Controlled Substance Laws

Navigating the legal landscape of Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida can be a daunting task, not just for those facing charges but also for attorneys who aim to provide the best defense for their clients. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the key elements, common types of charges, and the legal nuances surrounding this complex area of law.

Understanding the intricacies of Florida’s controlled substance laws is crucial for anyone involved in a related legal case, whether you’re an individual facing charges or an attorney representing a client. This guide aims to provide a thorough examination of the key elements, common types of charges, and the nuanced legal landscape surrounding Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida.

What Defines Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida?

In the State of Florida, the crime of Possession of a Controlled Substance is codified under Section 893.13 of the Florida Statutes. To be convicted of this offense, the following elements must be proven:

  1. Knowingly Possessing: The individual must knowingly possess a controlled substance. This means that the person was aware of the possession and that it was not accidental. The term “knowingly” is often a focal point in legal defenses, as it requires the State to prove that the defendant was aware of the substance’s presence.
  2. Illicit Nature of the Substance: The controlled substance must not have been lawfully obtained through a medical practitioner or a valid prescription. This means that even if you have a substance that is generally available through prescription, if you don’t have a valid prescription for it, you can still be charged with possession.

Understanding “Controlled Substance”

The term “controlled substance” is broad and encompasses a wide range of drugs, from commonly abused substances like cannabis and cocaine to prescription medications such as oxycodone and alprazolam (Xanax). The classification of the substance often dictates the severity of the charges and potential penalties.

The Complexity of “Knowing” and “Possession”

One of the more challenging aspects of these cases is the concept of “knowing possession.” For example, if a controlled substance is found in a shared vehicle, proving that a specific individual “knowingly” possessed the substance can be complicated. Similarly, “possession” doesn’t necessarily mean the substance must be found on your person; it can also be in an area you control, like your home or car, leading to what is known as “constructive possession.”

The Role of Medical Practitioners and Valid Prescriptions

It’s also worth noting that having a valid prescription is a complete defense to a charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance for the specific substance prescribed. However, the prescription must be valid and current, and the amount possessed must be consistent with the prescription. Possessing more than the prescribed amount or possessing a substance without a current, valid prescription can still result in charges.

Given the complexities and nuances of Florida’s controlled substance laws, having experienced legal representation is crucial. A knowledgeable attorney can scrutinize the elements of the charge, challenge the prosecution’s evidence, and may be able to negotiate for reduced charges or even a complete dismissal of the case.

If you or someone you know is facing charges related to the possession of a controlled substance, it’s imperative to consult with legal experts who understand the intricacies of Florida’s drug laws. At Leppard Law, we specialize in this area and are committed to providing the best possible defense for our clients.

Broad Spectrum of Controlled Substances

The term “controlled substance” is not limited to just one or two types of drugs. In Florida, the list is extensive and includes but is not limited to:

  • Common Narcotics: Cannabis, Cocaine, Heroin, Methamphetamine
  • Prescription Medications: Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazepam (Klonopin), Diazepam (Valium)
  • Synthetic Drugs: Fentanyl, MDMA, Synthetic Cannabis
  • Hallucinogens: LSD, Mescaline, Psilocybin (Hallucinogenic Mushrooms)
  • Others: GHB, PCP, Amphetamine, Codeine

Different Types of Possession Charges

The type of controlled substance found in one’s possession often dictates the severity of the charges and the subsequent penalties. Here are some of the more common types of charges:

  • Possession of Cannabis
  • Possession of Cocaine
  • Possession of Fentanyl
  • Possession of GHB
  • Possession of Heroin
  • Possession of Hydrocodone
  • Possession of MDMA
  • Possession of Methamphetamine
  • Possession of Oxycodone
  • Possession of Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Possession of Synthetic Drugs
  • Possession of Cannabis Concentrates
  • Possession of Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Possession of Diazepam (Valium)
  • Possession of Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Possession of Mescaline
  • Possession of Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
  • Possession of Peyote
  • Possession of Psilocybin (Hallucinogenic Mushrooms)
  • Possession of Amphetamine
  • Possession of Codeine

This guide aims to provide a thorough understanding of each element and type of Possession of a Controlled Substance charge in Florida, offering invaluable insights for both legal practitioners and those seeking to understand the complexities of Florida’s drug laws.

Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida

Facing a charge for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida is a serious matter that can have long-lasting consequences. The penalties vary depending on the type and amount of the controlled substance involved. Below is a comprehensive breakdown of the penalties you could face if convicted.

Classification of Offenses and Associated Penalties

Third-Degree Felony: General Possession of a Controlled Substance

  • Severity Level: Classified as a third-degree felony under Florida law.
  • Penalty: Punishable by up to 5 years in prison or probation, and a fine of up to $5,000.

First-Degree Misdemeanor: Possession of 20 Grams or Less of Cannabis

  • Severity Level: Classified as a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Penalty: Punishable by up to 1 year in jail or probation, and a fine of up to $1,000.
Offense Severity Level Penalty
Possession of a Controlled Substance Third-degree felony Up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine
Possession of 20 Grams or Less of Cannabis First-degree misdemeanor Up to 1 year of jail or probation, and a $1,000 fine

Criminal Punishment Code Points

The charge carries a severity level of 3, or 16 points, under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code. This point system is used to guide sentencing decisions.

No Minimum Mandatory Sentence

Assuming there are no aggravating circumstances, such as prior criminal convictions, there is no minimum mandatory sentence. This means that while the judge has the discretion to sentence you up to the maximum allowed by law, they are not required to impose any prison time.

Driver’s License Suspension

According to Section 322.055 of the Florida Statutes, a conviction for Possession of a Controlled Substance mandates a 6-month suspension of your driver’s license. However, the court may grant a restricted business-purposes-only license under “compelling circumstances.”

What Constitutes “Compelling Circumstances”?

The term “compelling circumstances” is not explicitly defined in the statute, but it generally refers to situations where the lack of a driver’s license would result in extreme hardship, such as loss of employment or inability to attend school.

Understanding the penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida is crucial for anyone facing such charges. The consequences are severe and can have a lasting impact on your life. If you or a loved one are facing such charges, it’s imperative to consult with experienced legal counsel to explore your options and build a strong defense. At Leppard Law, we specialize in drug-related offenses and are committed to providing the best legal defense for our clients.

How to Fight a Charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida

Navigating a charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida can be a complex and stressful ordeal. However, there are several legal defenses that can be employed to challenge the State’s case against you. At Leppard Law, we specialize in these defenses, leveraging our deep understanding of Florida’s drug laws to fight for the best possible outcome for our clients.

Understanding Actual vs. Constructive Possession

The State must prove that you had either actual possession or constructive possession of the controlled substance to secure a conviction.

  • Actual Possession: This means the controlled substance was found on your person, such as in your hand or pockets, or within an area you could easily reach and control.
  • Constructive Possession: This is a bit more nuanced. Constructive possession occurs when the controlled substance is found in an area over which you have control and where you are aware the substance is present.

If the State cannot prove either form of possession, you cannot be convicted of the charge.

Florida law provides for a “legal disposal” defense. Under this defense, you are not guilty of possession if you had the controlled substance temporarily and solely for the purpose of disposing of it—either by throwing it away, destroying it, or turning it over to the police.

The “Lack of Knowledge” Defense

Florida also recognizes a “lack of knowledge” defense. This means that if you were unaware that the substance in your possession was illicit, you can use this as an affirmative defense. However, it’s crucial to note that this is your burden to prove, as the State does not have to prove you knew the substance was illegal.

Other Potential Defense Strategies

There are numerous other defense strategies that can be employed, including but not limited to:

  • Motion to Suppress Evidence: If evidence was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights, we can move to have it thrown out.
  • Insufficient Evidence: We can challenge the State’s case by showing that there is insufficient evidence to support the charge against you.

Expertise at Leppard Law

At Leppard Law, we have extensive experience in employing these and other defenses to fight for a reduction or dismissal of charges. We understand the intricacies of Florida’s drug laws and are committed to providing the best legal defense possible for our clients.

Additional Resources

For further information on Florida’s drug laws, you can visit the Florida Legislature’s website. To understand more about your rights during a police search, the ACLU provides a comprehensive guide.

If you or a loved one are facing a charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance, don’t hesitate to contact Leppard Law for a free consultation to discuss your case and explore your legal options.

FAQs

What does ‘possession’ mean in a drug charge?

In the context of a drug charge, ‘possession’ refers to having control over the substance. This can be either actual possession (the substance is on your person) or constructive possession (the substance is in a place you control and you are aware of its presence).

What is the penalty for possession of a controlled substance in Florida?

Possession of a controlled substance is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Can I fight a charge of possession of a controlled substance?

Yes, there are several defenses that can be employed to fight a charge of possession of a controlled substance, including challenging the legality of the search, lack of knowledge about the substance, and more.

What is a motion to suppress?

A motion to suppress is a legal maneuver used to exclude or ‘suppress’ evidence from the court proceedings. This is often used when the evidence was obtained illegally or without proper procedure.

What is an alibi defense?

An alibi defense is used when the defendant claims to have been elsewhere when the alleged crime took place. This defense requires substantial proof, such as video footage, witness testimonies, or other forms of evidence that can corroborate the defendant’s claim.

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