Drug Crime Lawyer in Vero Beach, FL

Drug charges in Florida are serious offenses, generally punished as felonies that carry penalties of jail time and steep fines. The lightest drug offenses that may be punished as a misdemeanors involve possession of certain substances listed in Section 893.01 of the Florida Statutes.

Drug Possession

The state of Florida classifies illegal drugs into 5 groups or schedules, according to the substances’ potential for abuse and dependency

  • Schedule 1 drugs
    • Have the highest potential for abuse
    • Have no current use in the medical field
    • This schedule has a long list of chemical substances including heroin
  • Schedule 2 drugs
    • Have a high potential for abuse
    • Have some medical use
    • Such as morphine and opium
  • Schedule 3 drugs
    • Have a low to moderate chance of abuse
    • Do not have any accepted medical use
    • Such as anabolic steroids
  • Schedule 4 drugs
    • Have a fairly low potential for abuse
    • Have some accepted medical uses
    • Such as the anti-depressant diazepam
  • Schedule 5 drugs
    • Have the lowest potential for abuse
    • Have accepted medical uses with very limited risks of physical or psychological dependence
    • Tylenol 4 and marijuana fall under this group

Misdemeanor Drug Possession

Possession of most controlled substances in Florida are generally charged as a felony except for possession of substances enumerated in Schedule 5 of Section 893.01, in an amount of less than 20 grams.

Possession of drug paraphernalia as well is a first degree misdemeanor which carries a penalty of imprisonment for up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.

“Drug paraphernalia” is a broad term that can include anything used or intended to be used for the introduction of an illegal drug into the body. It can also refer to items used for drug-related purposes such as the creation, storage, or concealment of illegal drugs.

Defenses against Drug Possession Charges

Every situation for drug possession carries details or circumstances that a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney may raise as valid drug charge defenses in favor of an accused. A defendant, for example, may be able to object to evidence that was illegally obtained in an unlawful search or seizure.

Just as any other criminal charge brought in court, the prosecution has the burden of proving that all the elements of a drug possession crime are present. In particular, the following elements must be present for a charge of drug possession to prosper:

  • The defendant had actual knowledge of the drug
  • The seized material is indeed a controlled substance under Florida statute
  • The defendant had control of the drug

Possession may be actual or constructive. But for a charge of constructive possession to stick, the prosecution must be able to prove that the defendant had knowledge of the location of the drug and had the ability to physically control the drug.

If the illegal substance was allegedly found in a car or home, prosecution must be able to prove that the accused exercised considerable degree of care, custody, and control of the drug. A defense of not owning or not having any knowledge of the drug in your car and home may be successfully raised. Your attorney can argue that the evidence belonged to someone else or was planted in your vehicle or home and that you had no knowledge that it was there.

Other legal defenses may include possession of a valid medical prescription for certain substances and lack of knowledge that the drug in question was a controlled substance.

Drug Convictions

Aside from jail time and high fines, anyone convicted of a drug crime can also face other serious consequences such as:

  • Suspended driver’s license
  • Ineligibility for college financial aid
  • Inability to obtain a state license or certification
  • Ineligibility for some types of government employment
  • Limited chances of gainful employment, and
  • Damaged reputation

Possession and Delivery

In Florida, possession of illegal drugs and substances is punished either as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the quantity and type of drug on the accused.

  • Marijuana possession
    • In a quantity of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor
    • While possession of more than 20 grams makes it a 3rd degree felony
      • Carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000
  • Possession of a controlled substance
    • Such as heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy
    • 3rd degree felony
  • Possession of more than 10g of heroin and other drugs
    • Enumerated in Schedule 1 and related to opiate substances under Section 893.03(1)(a) or (1)(b)
    • 1st degree felony which has a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Possession of a listed chemical
    • Which is intended for use in the manufacture of a controlled substance
      • Such as methamphetamine, ecstasy, and GHB
    • 2nd degree felony which can bring a penalty of up to 15 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
    • Such as pipes, needles, syringes, scales, smoking devices, bongs, containers, and bags
    • 1st degree misdemeanor which is punished with jail time of up to one year and a fine of not more than $1,000

Drug trafficking is a first degree felony and carries a mandatory minimum sentence which varies, depending on the type of substance and quantity involved. Florida statutes also specify the threshold drug quantities for purposes of establishing trafficking. The mandatory minimum sentence will increase as the amount of drugs involved increases.

Importance of Vero Beach  Drug Defense Attorney

Drug crime charges are serious matters that require immediate legal advice and representation in order to avoid their long term negative consequences. Defending oneself from drug charges requires a good grasp of complicated drug crime laws and criminal procedures.

A skilled criminal defense attorney can examine the details of your drug charges and your case and determine the best defense strategy under the situation. Your lawyer can have the charges dismissed or consider enrollment in a misdemeanor pretrial intervention program. It’s important that you call an attorney immediately and avoid answering questions without counsel.

In Stuart, Florida, the Law Offices of Keith Bregoff, PA have been helping clients involved in drug charges. Backed by more than 23 years of experience which include time spent as a former lead felony state prosecutor, Attorney Bregoff will work very hard to obtain the best outcome in your situation.

We invite you to call us today at (772) 492-8967 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Bregoff.