In every state, you will find different regulations regarding the sale of controlled substances. The laws will differ on what qualifies as a controlled substance and the penalties imposed for the illegal activity. In Florida, the law associated with the sale of controlled substances makes provisions for specific classifications of that which is prohibited and includes certain ingredients used in the manufacturing of the substance.

Drug and substance abuse is viewed as a detriment to good order in society. Accordingly, the sale of the actual substances that lead to this destructive behavior is seen as the starting point of the problem. The law and the penalties attached to the crime of sale of a controlled substance are harsh. Your best chance of beating any such charge is to hire a Sarasota drug crime defense lawyer with ample experience, such as Erika Valcarcel.

What is the Sale of Controlled Substances?

Integral to understanding this offense is to know what qualifies as a controlled substance under Florida law. Particular illegal substances are categorized in terms of their relation to the likelihood of abuse, and they are as follows:

  • Schedule I: Drugs that have a high chance of abuse and for which there is no accepted medical usage, like heroin.
  • Schedule II: Drugs that possess a high propensity for abuse but have some restrictive acceptable medical usages, like opium and morphine. The abuse of these types of drugs will include severe dependency.
  • Schedule III: Drugs that have less potential for abuse, like anabolic steroids, but can lead to some amount of dependency.
  • Schedule IV: Drugs with an even lesser likelihood of abuse than those above, like diazepam, and possess limited dependency compared to other categories of substances listed above.
  • Schedule V: Drugs with the least amount of possibility of abuse and dependency and will generally include specific medication that has small quantities of narcotic drugs as ingredients.

The laws associated with the offense of sale of controlled substances will include not only the actual selling but incorporates possession for which the intent is to sell the substance and also delivery. The sale of controlled substances can be tried as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

Delivery of Controlled Substances

When the topic of selling controlled substances comes up, it’s often grouped in with the delivery of controlled substances. However, “delivery” and “sale” are two different terms under Florida law. When you sell controlled substances, you transfer or deliver the substances to someone in exchange for money or something of value.

Delivery occurs when someone transfers controlled substances to another person or attempts to do so. In this case, it does not matter if there is an exchange of items of value. There isn’t a significant difference in penalties between selling and delivering when it comes to most controlled substances. The exception is cannabis. The delivery of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor in Florida, so in this situation, it makes sense to push for a delivery offense over a sale offense.

Sale of Controlled Substance Penalties

Florida laws concerning the sale of controlled substances are very complex, and penalties are based on several factors. Paramount amongst them is whether the charge is being pursued as a felony or a misdemeanor. Additionally, penalties will also be determined by the quantity that is allegedly sold and vary based on the particular classification of the drug.

Felony sale of a controlled substance is divided into three categories, each with varying jail time if you are found guilty:

  • First-degree felony: Time behind bars up to 25 years
  • Second-degree felony: Up to 15 years in prison
  • Third-degree felony: Up to five years in prison

In addition to jail time, penalties imposed at sentencing can also include fines. Such fines can range from $5,000 to $10,000.

The type of controlled substances sold or delivered and their amount affects which kind of charge you get. For example, the sale of Schedule V substances is a misdemeanor. This carries a penalty of up to one year of incarceration, a fine as high as $1,000, or both. Felony sale in the third degree is limited to Schedule I hallucinogens, certain Schedule II substances, all Schedule III substances, and all Schedule IV substances. The stiffest first-degree felonies are reserved for those with more than 10 grams of a Schedule I substance, excluding several substances considered Schedule I.

Penalties can be enhanced at sentencing where the following factors exist:

  • The offense is committed within 1,000 feet of specific properties, such as schools, parks, religious places, assisted living, and public housing properties. Other examples include universities and municipal facilities. The perpetrator could spend up to 30 years in prison and pay up to $10,000 in fines. Second-degree felonies in these locations could lead to up to 15 years in prison and a fine as high as $10,000.
  • The offense includes a minor, whether to facilitate the sale or where the sale is to the minor. When this occurs, you face severe penalties. The penalties are the same as those for crimes committed too close to specific properties, but sentences cannot be suspended or deferred. Additionally, a convicted person cannot be put on probation.
  • You are considered a habitual offender with multiple convictions in the past. A habitual offender who gets a first-degree felony conviction could be put in prison for the rest of their life. A second-degree felony could lead to a 30-year incarceration period. At the third-degree felony level, those convicted could spend up to 10 years in prison.

You must have a lawyer represent you at the sentencing hearing if you are convicted or decided to plead guilty. Several factors can contribute to the number of time behind bars imposed, so having a legal mind that possesses the necessary experience can make the difference between years in jail and probation.

Potential Defenses Against Charges

Depending on your charges’ circumstances and what evidence the state has against you, your criminal defense attorney may explore several different defenses. Options include:

Violation of Personal Rights

Even when you are suspected of a crime, you have rights that cannot be violated under the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment requires that, before a search and seizure, police officers must have probable cause. If they initiate a search and seizure without going through the proper steps or establishing probable cause, any evidence seized could be thrown out.

Lack of Knowledge

If a suspect honestly did not know that they had a controlled substance, they may not have to face charges. However, for this defense to work, the prosecution’s evidence generally has to be relatively weak.

Constructive Possession Issues

Actual possession refers to having the substances on your person. Constructive possession refers to having the substances in a separate area under your control and domain. If the prosecution cannot prove actual possession, they may attempt to catch you on constructive possession. However, if the area they claim you kept the controlled substances was accessible by multiple people or not under your control, this is a possible defense.


Undercover officers or informants occasionally go too far in trying to gather proof of a crime. If they induce an individual to commit a crime that they otherwise would not have been involved in, the suspect may have been a victim of entrapment.

How a Sarasota Controlled Substance Lawyer Lawyer Can Help You Beat Your Case

The charge of the sale of controlled substances is no joking matter. Approaching the court, unrepresented, can be confusing and overwhelming, especially since the laws relating to your charge are very detailed and complicated. Having a lawyer by your side from the beginning is critical to getting your charge dropped or reduced before trial. When your matter proceeds to court, a lawyer will be instrumental in preparing your defense.

Attorney Erika Valcarcel has dedicated years of her practice to criminal defense litigation. She knows the criminal judicial system and has represented numerous individuals charged with the sale of controlled substances. She is an aggressive and highly skilled advocate who will work with you to secure your freedom.

Do not take a sale of controlled substances charge lightly. The time is now to secure a capable Sarasota criminal defense lawyer to handle your case.

Call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. at (941) 363-7900 and let attorney Valcarcel provide the legal representation you can trust.