Florida has some of the harshest penalties for drug crimes in the nation. Drugs that are criminalized include street drugs like heroin, marijuana, acid, meth, cocaine, GHB, and GBL, as well as prescription drugs for which the defendant has no valid prescription, like hydrocodone or oxycodone. When a certain amount of the substance, considered a threshold amount, is possessed in Florida, you can be charged with drug trafficking. If you are charged with any drug crime, it is critical to consult an experienced Bradenton drug crime lawyer about the charge. Hanlon Law fights for the rights of the accused.Penalties and Defense Strategies in Drug Crime Cases
Many different activities are penalized as drug crimes. Actually or constructively possessing a controlled substance is a drug crime. Other drug crimes include manufacturing, distributing, selling, or importing controlled substances into Florida. If you are engaged in any of these activities, and more than a threshold amount of the controlled substance is involved, you can face drug trafficking charges. Drug trafficking charges are especially serious because they are felony charges that come with mandatory minimum sentences if you are convicted. That means that unlike with other drug crimes, the judge will not have discretion over the sentence and must impose a certain minimum sentence, even if you have no prior convictions.
Most actual and constructive drug possession charges are felony charges. The exception is for possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana or engaging in medical use of marijuana, which are misdemeanor charges. Drug possession is made up of actual possession charges and constructive possession charges. Actual possession exists when the defendant has physical possession of the drug. For example, if a police officer frisks you, and you have cocaine in your pocket, this is actual possession. Constructive possession is more complicated, and a drug crime attorney in the Bradenton area often can attack the prosecution’s case under this theory.
To show that you had constructive possession of the drugs, the prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to keep control and dominion over the drugs. Each factual situation is different. Suppose that, for example, you are pulled over for a DUI and arrested, and a bag of meth is found in your car. This may be constructive possession. However, perhaps you were borrowing the car and had no idea that the meth was there, and the bag of meth belonged to the owner of the car, who is your roommate. In that case, there may not be constructive possession.
Possession with intent to sell is a separate crime. The prosecutor will need to prove that you not only possessed the drugs at issue but also intended to sell or distribute them. In most cases, harsher penalties are imposed for possession with intent to sell, which makes it especially critical to retain a Bradenton drug crime attorney to fight the charge.
Moreover, if the amount of drugs involved is more than the threshold amount for that particular substance, you may be charged with drug trafficking. An ordinary person can be charged and convicted for drug trafficking, even if they only had constructive possession of the drug and had no intent to sell or distribute it. If you are convicted of trafficking, you will face a mandatory minimum sentence. This sentence will depend on how much of the drug is at issue and which type of drug it is.
The appropriate defense for a drug charge depends on the circumstances. The elements of drug crimes need to be established beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very tough standard. In some cases, it may be possible to raise a reasonable doubt about one or more elements of the drug charge. In other cases, it may be possible to contest the admissibility of evidence that was seized unconstitutionally. For example, if the police did not have a warrant to search an area where cocaine was found, and a warrant was necessary, it may be possible to file a motion to suppress the cocaine that was found from consideration by the court.Hire a Skilled Drug Crime Lawyer in Bradenton or Surrounding Communities
Drug crimes are taken seriously in Florida. If you are convicted, you may face harsh consequences, including imprisonment, fines, probation, community service, and a social stigma. While the stigma may not seem significant, it can result in your not being able to get a job or keep a professional license, even after serving time. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has aggressively and knowledgeably represented the accused since 1994. You can contact Hanlon Law at 941.462.1789 or via our online form.