Understanding Drug Crime Charges

In Florida, drug crimes—including mere possession—carry serious consequences. Not only will you face potential prison time, but you may have your driver’s license suspended even if you’re caught in your own home or walking down the street with marijuana in your pocket.

If you’re convicted, you’ll also have a criminal record that can haunt you for the rest of your life. A criminal record will make it difficult to obtain employment, receive public benefits, qualify for professional licensing, or apply for bank loans or housing.

If you’re facing drug charges in or around Boca Raton or anywhere in Palm Beach County and Broward County, contact Steven J. Litvack, P.A. I am an experienced criminal defense attorney who previously served as an assistant state attorney. I have thus tried cases from both sides of the law—prosecution and defense—and I have the knowledge and resources to fight for your rights and to obtain the best possible result.

Drug Crimes in Florida

Florida has some of the toughest drug statutes on the books anywhere in the nation. Here are the main charges you could face: 

Possession

If drugs are found in your possession, the penalties will vary based on the type of substance involved. Possessing up to 20 grams of marijuana, for instance, is a 1st-degree misdemeanor that can land you in jail for one year and/or result in a fine of up to $1,000. If you possess more than that, the charge rises to a 3rd-degree felony with penalties of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000.

Schedule I controlled substances, such as heroin or LSD, will be treated as a 1st-degree felony if you possess more than 10 grams. The penalties are up to 30 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Possessing 10 grams of any other controlled substance, Schedules II through V, is treated as a 3rd-degree felony with penalties of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

You might also face a charge of possession with the intent to distribute, which becomes a 2nd -degree felony, resulting in as many as 15 years behind bars and/or a fine of $10,000.

Sale & Delivery

The sale of a controlled substance means the exchange of the drug for something of value, whether it be money or something else. Delivery means the actual or attempted transfer of a controlled substance from one person to another.

Depending on the controlled substance involved, the charge will be a 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-degree felony. Sale or delivery of Schedule V drugs, such as a cough medicine with codeine, is treated as a 1st-degree misdemeanor.

Cultivation & Manufacture

Even though medical marijuana is legal in Florida, growing your own is illegal. If you cultivate cannabis in the state, you can be charged with a 3rd-degree felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000. The charges can rise to a 2nd-degree felony if there are 25 or more plants being cultivated in a “grow house.” The penalties then increase to a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine. If minors reside on the same property, the charge could rise to a 1st-degree felony.

Cultivation and/or manufacture of other controlled substances, such as cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), methamphetamine, and many others, are 2nd-degree felonies. Penalties can rise if the cultivation or manufacture occurs within 1,000 feet of a school, child care facility, public park, or community recreational facility. The charge then becomes 1st-degree felony.

If you rent or loan out the property or facilities where the cultivation or manufacturing takes place, you can be charged with a 3rd-degree felony.

Drug Trafficking

Drug trafficking is the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, possession, or transportation of a controlled substance. Trafficking charges can result if you are found with a controlled substance exceeding a certain weight. You do not even have to be involved in a drug deal to be charged.

Minimum weights for drug trafficking charges include:

  • Marijuana: 25 pounds or 300 plants
  • Cocaine: 28 grams
  • Hydrocodone: 14 grams
  • LSD (acid): 1 gram
  • MDMA (ecstasy): 10 grams
  • Oxycodone: 7 grams

Depending on the drug in question, sentences range from a minimum of 3 years in prison and/ or a fine of $50,000 up to life in prison without parole. 

Possible Drug Charge Defenses

An experienced defense attorney can help you exercise your rights and challenge the evidence and statements of the police and prosecutors. For example, the authorities may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights with an illegal search or seizure, or failed to fully explain your Miranda rights to remain silent and seek the aid of an attorney when they arrested you.

In some cases, prosecutors will have to show that you had knowledge of the presence of the drugs you’re charged with possessing, and to prove intent if you’re charged with possession with intent to distribute or with drug trafficking.

Controlled substances also need to be analyzed in a chemical laboratory in order to be offered as evidence in court. The samples can turn up missing, or the evidence may have been tampered with during the process of transporting the sample.

There is also the possibility of getting the case transferred to a drug court if it’s a first offense and is non-violent. The drug court may sentence you to counseling, substance abuse treatment, and periodic drug testing. At the successful conclusion of the program, the court may dismiss your charges. 

Hiring an Experienced Drug Charges Attorney

As a former state attorney, I know how the prosecutorial side thinks and acts. This gives me added insight into how to deal with your drug charge case.

If you are charged, make sure to contact me immediately, even before you speak to the police or answer any questions. You do have the right to remain silent, and what you say “can and will be used against you.” Be polite, but insist on having an attorney present.

I handle cases in and around Boca Raton, as well as Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Deerfield Beach, Coral Springs, and Coconut Creek, and throughout the counties of Palm Beach and Broward. Reach out to me, attorney Steven J. Litvack, immediately, and let’s begin your defense.


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