Possession of a Controlled Substance
Being charged with drug possession in Florida can bring your life to a screeching halt. You cannot continue to focus on your job and your family because you are now buried in court appearances and the constant fear that you will spend the foreseeable future behind bars.
Countless Floridians experience this seemingly hopeless situation every year. Sadly, many never realize that they have legal options that could reduce their charge or get it thrown out altogether.
If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance, you have options. The charge you are facing is serious—possibly life-altering—but a seasoned attorney from Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. is ready to fight hard for the best possible outcome in your case.
What Is Possession of a Controlled Substance?
“Possession of a controlled substance” is the act of having an illegal drug in your possession. Other drug offenses, such as drug trafficking and drug manufacturing, have separate criminal charges, but sometimes they are combined.
Keep in mind that you do not have to own the drugs in question to be charged with possession. Under Florida law, you can “possess” a controlled substance in two ways:
- Actual possession. This means you have been accused of having the controlled substance on your person, such as in your pocket.
- Constructive possession. This means you have control over the substance, but it is not in your immediate possession. For example, an officer might allege that you have heroin stashed in your glove compartment or a lockbox in your home.
Drug Possession Is a Serious Charge
Even a first-time drug possession charge in Florida can have lifelong consequences. In fact, depending on the amount and type of drug you are accused of possessing, you could be charged with a first-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
In Florida, a conviction for possession of a controlled substance can have lasting negative effects on your life. Fortunately, a drug possession attorney from Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. has the knowledge and experience to keep your possession charge from turning into a conviction.
Florida Drug Schedules
The state of Florida classifies drugs according to numbered schedules. Schedule I drugs are thought to present the highest risk of abuse, while Schedule V drugs present the lowest risk. Typically, the severity of a penalty for drug possession will depend on what schedule the drug is in and how much of it you allegedly had.
Florida drug schedules and common drug types for each are listed below:
- Schedule I. This class includes heroin, ecstasy, LSD, and marijuana.
- Schedule II. This class includes meth, cocaine, Adderall, and methadone.
- Schedule III. This class includes steroids, ketamine, testosterone, and high-dose codeine.
- Schedule IV. This class includes diazepam, Ambien, Xanax, and lorazepam.
- Schedule V. This class includes low-dose codeine, Motofen, and Lomotil.
Criminal Penalties for Drug Possession
The penalties for possession of a controlled substance can vary widely. That is because the severity of the charge depends on how much of the substance you were accused of having, what the substance was, and whether you have prior drug convictions on your record.
The only time possession will typically be charged as a misdemeanor is if you possessed a small amount of marijuana. If you are convicted of having 20 grams or less of marijuana, you may face as long as a year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
The other possible penalties for possession of a controlled substance are outlined below:
- Third-degree felony. This charge usually involves possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana or small amounts of heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), cocaine, LSD, and similar drugs. It is punishable by five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
- Second-degree felony. Punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and 15 years in prison, this charge more often comes when you are accused of possessing the chemicals used to make drugs like ecstasy and meth.
- First-degree felony. You could face 30 years in prison and fines of $10,000 or more if you are convicted of a first-degree felony. Drug possession is often charged as a first-degree felony when large amounts of illegal drugs are supposedly involved.
Keep in mind that the potential penalties you face can be more severe if you have prior convictions on your record, you are accused of manufacturing or trafficking the substance, or your alleged crime involved a minor.
A Sarasota Drug Possession Lawyer Can Defend You
To convict you of possession of a controlled substance in Florida, a prosecutor must demonstrate the following:
- The substance you are accused of having is, in fact, a controlled substance.
- You knew or should have known that the substance was illegal.
- You had control over and access to the substance.
How do you fight a drug charge in Florida? By building a defense that disproves the above elements or calls into question the evidence being used against you. This is where a highly experienced defense lawyer comes in. Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. will scrutinize the evidence, hear your side of the story, and work to build a rock-solid defense for you.
Here are some examples of defenses for drug possession charges:
- The police illegally searched you or your property to obtain the controlled substance in question, violating your Fourth Amendment rights.
- You did not know that the substance you had was illegal.
- You have a valid prescription for the drug that was seized from you.
- The substance taken from you was mishandled in some way after your arrest, calling into question the chain of custody of the evidence and, therefore, its integrity.
These are only a few of the possible defenses for a possession of a controlled substance charge. For help with your unique case, contact a Sarasota criminal defense law firm.
Reach Out to Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A.
No matter how impossible your legal situation may feel right now, an experienced drug defense attorney can bring a ray of hope in a dark time by giving you a chance to defend yourself and possibly even beat your drug possession charge.
Sarasota drug possession lawyer Erika Valcarcel fights for the best possible results for her clients. She has done so successfully countless times. To get a tireless legal ally with a winning track record on your side, call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900 today.