While Florida drug laws have changed in recent years, the state still has some of the toughest drug laws in the country. If you have an arrest on your record for possession of illegal drugs or have a charge for any other drug crime, you’re going to need the help of a drug charge lawyer.
Being charged with a drug crime can impact your future and hurt your opportunities down the road. In order to establish a successful defense, you need an experienced lawyer who understands how local judges and prosecutors operate. Typically, the quantity and kind, or “schedule”, of drug are two key factors in determining the severity of the charge.
As you begin your search for a criminal defense attorney please consider contacting Jonathan Drake. I’m a Tampa drug crime lawyer who has successfully defended countless clients against serious criminal charges.
How Our Firm Handles Drug Cases
To start, we will review your case to determine if your rights were violated. For example, if the police did not have probable cause to search you or your home, any evidence they obtained against you might not be admissible in court. Beyond that we will pose the following questions:
- How did you come into contact with the police?
- Where were the drugs?
- Were there other people present?
- Can the drugs be linked to you, or could they have belonged to someone else?
- Was the search legal?
- Who are the witnesses?
- Were statements or admissions legally obtained?
- Were Miranda Rights read?
The answers to these questions helps us assess the strength of the prosecution’s evidence against you. From there we devise the most effective defense strategy. Our goal is to have charges dismissed or significantly reduced to something you can live with.
Types of Cases Drake Law Takes
Jonathan Drake takes on a small number of cases so that he can provide each of his clients with personalized attention and dedicated resources. Case types the firm commonly handles include:
- Possession of Drugs
- Possession With Intent to Distribute
- Cannabis Possession
- Prescription Drug Charges
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- Conspiracy Drug Charges
- Grow Houses
- Medical Marijuana
- Drug Trafficking
- Alternative Sentencing
How Florida Handles Drug Possession Charges
Florida considers drugs “controlled dangerous substances”. The categorization is according to a “schedule”.
Schedule I drugs are the most “dangerous”, while Schedule V drugs are the least dangerous, according to the outdated laws on the books.
In Schedule I, you will find drugs like herion, opioid derivatives, hallicinogenic drugs, marijuana, stimulants such as certain synthetic amphetamines, and depressants such as quaaludes and barbiturates.
Unfortunately, marijuana/cannabis is still a Schedule I drug.
A quick glance at the long list of Florida 2021 drug statutes will tell you that Florida’s drug laws are complex, outdated, and clunky. That’s why it’s important to have a knowledgeable drug charge attorney handle your case.
Moving down the list to Schedule II, we find raw opiate derivatives like morphine, codeine, and opium, stimulants like methamphetamine, and depressants like pentobarbital.
Schedule III drugs include lower grade narcotics, stimulants, and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV drugs include many pharmaceutical drugs that are considered a controlled substance without a proper prescription.
Marijuana Possession in Florida
While medical marijuana is permitted in Florida with a prescription from a qualified physician, possession without a prescription or with intent to distribute are still crimes.
Marijuana Possession up to 20 Grams – In Florida, marijuana possession up to 20 grams is considered a misdemeanor offense. It carries a maximum penalty of up to one year of incarceration and a fine up to $1,000.
- Decriminalization in Tampa – In 2016 Tampa’s City Council passed a resolution that decriminalizes marijuana possession in small amounts. For possession of marijuana of up to 20 grams, the penalty is a $75 fine.
More than 20 Grams to 25 Pounds – Possession between 20 grams and 25 pounds is considered a felony in Florida. It can result in a 5 year prison sentence and a fine of up to $5,000.
Between 25 and 2,000 Pounds – Possession between 25 and 2,000 pounds can result in 3 to 15 years of prison time and a fine of up to $25,000. 3 years is the mandatory minimum sentence.
Between 2,000 and 10,000 Pounds – Possession between 2,000 and 10,000 pounds can result in a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years, up to 30 years imprisonment, and a fine of up to $50,000.
10,000 Pounds or More – For 10,000 pounds or more the mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years, up to 30 years and a fine of up to $200,000 if convicted.
Medical Marijuana – As previously stated, medical marijuana is permitted in Florida. The state has a medical CBD law that permits the use of cannabis extracts that have high CBD and low THC for any medical condition for which a physician recommends it.
Arrested for Possessing Prescribed Cannabis?
Many people are arrested for possession of cannabis when they can’t produce a medical marijuana ID card (valid at the time of arrest). If you can produce a valid medical marijuana use registry identification card that was issued prior to your arrest, the charge will be dismissed.
Home Cultivation – Home cultivation is not currently legal in Florida.
Drug Trafficking Charges in Florida
Florida’s drug laws are particularly harsh because of the state’s proximity to drug cultivating regions in the Southern Hemisphere. The state imposes stiff mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking crimes above a certain threshold, depending on the drug.
Selling or delivering more than 25 pounds of marijuana is considered drug trafficking, and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years on prison and a $25,000 fine. The same sentence and fine applies to trafficking more than 28 grams of cocaine.
Possession of more than 25 marijuana plants (home growing) is considered evidence of drug trafficking intent in Florida.
Trafficking cocaine in amounts between 200 and 400 grams comes with a minimum sentence of 7 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
On top of those penalties, possessing drug-related paraphernalia or chemicals for manufacturing drugs is treated as its own crime and punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Alternative Sentencing Options
If the state’s evidence against you is insurmountable, or you struggle with addiction issues, you might want to consider alternative sentencing options. Because of the unique nature of drug crimes, there are many diversion programs and alternative sentencing options for drug offenders.
Drug Court is one such option. There are over 3,000 drug courts around the United States. The goal of drug court is to divert people who struggle with substance use issues from the criminal justice system. If you successfully complete the program, all drug charges against you will be dropped. However, you will first need to qualify, and you will need the help of a good criminal defense attorney.
Hillsborough County’s adult drug court is officially known as Pretrial Intervention Drug Court. Usually the prosecutor decides to divert you to drug court, but your defense lawyer can also seek to have you admitted. Drug court includes drug testing and monitoring, support groups and individual counseling, and regularly scheduled case reviews before a judge.
Probation and Day Reporting is another alternative to facing possible jail or prison time. You must report daily to a probation officer or other law enforcement official. Day reporting is an option for people whose addiction issues necessitate daily check-ins. To be eligible for probation you must not have any prior felony convictions. Violent offenders are also excluded from seeking probation.
Veterans Court is designed to help veterans accused of crimes, including drug charges, get treatment for substance use, mental health, and other issues stemming from PTSD. Florida is a veteran-heavy and veteran-friendly state, with over 31 veterans courts. Veterans who qualify work with judges, lawyers, treatment providers, law enforcement, and a volunteer veteran mentor to devise a plan to help the vet get their life back on track.
Community Control is a catch-all phrase for a combination of work release, probation, or house arrest. Community control is harsher than regular probation. It requires you to submit a schedule to a community control officer each day, or wear a GPS monitor.
Alternative sentencing options like drug court, regular probation, day reporting, and community control are designed to emphasize personal accountability. For good measure they require you to submit to surveillance or official oversight. However harsh they may seem, they offer an alternative to jail or prison, as long as you comply with the terms of the program and avoid any new legal trouble.
Time is of the Essence. Talk to an Attorney Today.
Facing drug charges in a state that’s as tough on drug crimes as Florida can be daunting. Even a conviction for a minor offense can have devastating consequences for you and your family.
It is imperative that you hire a drug charges defense attorney as early on in your case as possible. One of the biggest mistakes we see defendants make is waiting to seek legal counsel.
Keep in mind that anything you say to the police can and will be used against you in court. If the police are questioning you about drugs, you should consider yourself a suspect. The sooner you get a defense attorney in your corner the better.
Call Jonathan Drake at 813-509-2426 today for a free legal consultation. I look forward to discussing your case and how we will work together to reach the best possible outcome.