Drug Possession Charges In Florida

Orlando Drug Possession Defense Attorney

The drug laws in Florida are some of the strictest in the nation. Possessing a controlled substance like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine is categorized as a third degree felony, which can lead to steep fines and up to five years in prison. You do have options for your legal defense if you are accused of possession charges.

Constructive Possession means the person is aware of the presence of the substance, the substance is in a place over which the person has control, and the person has the ability to control the substance.

What the State Has to Prove in Florida Drug Possession Cases

Under Florida Statue 893.13(6), to prove the crime of drug possession, the State must prove the defendant knew of the presence of a substance; the Defendant exercised control or ownership over that substance; and the substance is what they claim it is.

It’s important to remember that being close to the substance is not enough in itself for the State to prove possession. The circumstances of the discovery of the substance and your proximity are very important in terms of your criminal defense. If the police and authorities don’t have a strong case in this area, your lawyer will work to use this to your advantage early on in the case.

Purchase and Possession Convictions in Florida

The State can convict you for both “purchase of” and “possession of” the same drug because possession is not necessarily the lessor included offense of purchase. State v. Houghtailing, 704 So. 2d 163, 164 (Fla 5th DCA 1998).

When you’re accused, you must be prepared to take action quickly, because many prosecutors are interested in pursuing conviction aggressively. This means no one but your lawyer cares about doing right by you in terms or looking our for your interests. Thinking that the police will want to work with you to protect your reputation and interests is a big mistake and one that you frankly cannot afford to make.

The authorities will do everything in their power to push for a conviction and tough penalties against you, but if you don’t get an Orlando drug possession lawyer working on your options early on, your choices will be limited. When an attorney is engaged early, he or she can look into every option for minimizing or dismissing the charges. Wait too long and the case against you has already been fully developed.

Actual Versus Constructive Possession

There are two types of drug possession that matter in Florida; actual and constructive. Drug Possession is typically classified as either actual possession or constructive possession.

Actual possession refers to situations in which the police find a drug on your person or relatively close to you. Whether or not you technically own this drug is irrelevant from a legal perspective. The best way to challenge out charges of actual possession is to call into question the validity of the stop and search that led to the police officer identifying the drugs. The officer must have had a reasonable suspicion that you were about to commit or committed a crime in order to legally stop you.

Reasonable suspicion means that the officer cannot rely on a hunch. There must be a probable cause to support a search. This is a higher legal standard than a reasonable suspicion on the officer’s part. If there was no reasonable suspicion to stop, you or probable cause to carry out a search, then the charges against you have to be dismissed. As it relates to constructive possession, this means that officers found drugs not on your person, but in a common area or another location.

The prosecution must then prove constructive possession that you knew the drugs were there and had the ability to control or access them. You could be charged with constructive possession, for example, if you were inside a vehicle, and police found drugs in the glove compartment. The prosecution has to establish that:

  • You knew the drugs were there.
  • You had control and dominion over the drugs.
  • You knew the drugs were illegal.

The fact that the drugs were found close to you is not enough to demonstrate constructive possession, even if those drugs were in plain view. Constructive possession charges can be challenged by questioning the stop and search grounds or on the ground that evidence is insufficient to establish all of the elements of constructive possession beyond a reasonable doubt. Possessing even a small amount of illegal drugs can lead to steep penalties.

If you are caught with several different drugs or a significant amount of them, even for your personal use, the laws in Florida still treat you as a drug dealer. An Orlando criminal defense attorney can assist you by aggressively countering the prosecution’s case to mitigate the punishment or to avoid a conviction altogether.

If you or someone you know has already been charged with possession or possession with intent, you need to contact a law firm immediately. Anyone who has been accused of misdemeanor or felony possession of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, marijuana, heroin, meth, or illegal prescription narcotics can benefit from the services provided by an Orlando drug possession defense attorney. The exact penalties and charges will depend on the type of drug, the amount, whether or not you have any previous convictions and several other factors.

Possessing a small amount of marijuana, for example, is a misdemeanor, but any amount of other drugs can elevate your charges to the felony level with the potential for a year or more in prison. Many people are surprised to find themselves charged with the serious crime of possession with intent to sell. This is almost based entirely on the amount in question and does not require actual evidence of dealing or the intention to sell.

How the prosecution considers intention to tell is the crux of your legal defense. In far too many cases that should have been classified as drug possession, the prosecutors will try to illustrate that you had intentions to sell the drug as well. As you might expect, this second crime is much more serious and increases your risk of devastating consequences. Since nuances are often involved in determining whether or not possession or sale charges should apply, you must share your version of events with an Orlando criminal defense lawyer.

Watch Out for the Long-Term Consequences of a Drug Possession Conviction

A drug conviction carries numerous consequences that can influence you for years to come. These include suspension of your driver’s license, prison time or mandatory treatment. Furthermore, the establishment of a criminal record is a red flag for potential future employers and the consequences can be even higher for repeat offenses.

Your criminal defense attorney in Orlando should be committed to examining the evidence to identify whether there were any flaws against you, such as whether or not the police had probable cause to stop you on the street or stop your vehicle. If the police violated your rights while executing a search warrant or in a spot search, this could become a crucial component of your legal claim. With so much on the line for your future, you cannot afford to wait to talk to an experienced lawyer.

In Orlando, when you’re arrested for drug possession or any drug charge, how you respond will dictate your future. You might need the help of someone who understands how this will influence your life and the steps you need to take to protect your interests. Getting help sooner rather than later is extremely important for your own future.

If the police overstepped their bounds and violated your rights in an effort to collect evidence or arrest you, they may try to downplay these actions so that you don’t share it with your lawyer. That’s because the police know that your lawyer is your strongest ally and will have the knowhow and interest to take action quickly to protect your future. Your lawyer in Orlando will also be familiar with the typical tactics used to try to scare you into accepting an unfair or unreasonable plea bargain. If the police are trying to encourage you to take a plea bargain and it’s not in your best interests, your lawyer will be the one to respond assertively by preparing your case for trial.

Get the help you need from an Orlando Drug Possession Defense Lawyer

There are a lot of unknowns with drug possession charges. You might not know the strength of the case against you, how the law interprets these allegations, or the kinds of consequences that might follow when you’ve been convicted. Since you already have enough to worry about, you should turn over your concerns about the legal aspects of your case to an Orlando drug possession defense lawyer who will do everything in his or her power to take control of the situation quickly so that you can stay out of jail and avoid the impact of a criminal conviction. Don’t let these charges scare you- show the police you’re serious with a talented criminal defense lawyer in Orlando.

At Frost Law, our trial attorney has experience prosecuting and defending all kinds of drug charges. His experience as a former drug crimes prosecutor gives you the advantage of having someone on your side who knows these charges inside out and can help you to create the best possible defense strategy. Call Frost Law today at (407) 670-5569 for a FREE consultation and review of your case.