If you or someone close to you has been arrested on a Drug Charge, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal attorney immediately. We handle drug charges in both Palm Beach County and Broward County.
A conviction for a drug-related offense can have a devastating effect on your life, your family, your driving privilege, and even your freedom. It can also have long-lasting effects on your ability to be approved on housing applications, to secure bank loans, and to obtain professional licenses.
Florida has enacted some of the toughest penalties for Drug Charges. For example, a simple conviction for possession can result in a two-year driver’s license suspension even if the arrest was made in your home, while you were walking down the street, and had nothing to do with a motor vehicle.
The most common Drug Charges include:
Even though there is no allegation that the Defendant was dealing or distributing drugs, prosecutors still take simple possession cases very seriously. Most possession cases are 3rd-degree felonies punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Possession of Cannabis under 20 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in the county jail.
Can the State prove “Knowledge”?
In order to be convicted of a drug possession charge, the State of Florida must prove not only that a person possessed illegal drugs, but that the person had knowledge of the presence of the drugs. The knowledge element is presumed when drugs are found on a person or in their pocket. It can also be proven through statements or omissions. Therefore, whenever confronted by the police, be as polite and respectful as possible, and invoke your constitutional right to remain silent and have an attorney present. The knowledge element can get tricky when drugs are found in a place that more than one person has access to. For example, if three people are in a vehicle and drugs were found in the trunk or hidden in the center counsel, it may be very difficult for the prosecutor to prove that each person had knowledge of the presence of the drugs. An experienced attorney can review your case and determine whether the State of Florida can prove you had knowledge of the drugs. If they cannot prove knowledge, you may be able to get your case DISMISSED or REDUCED.
Possession with Intent to Distribute
When someone is found to possess multiple bags of drugs or a large amount of cash, police often assume the person is about to (or already had) distributed drugs. Police often charge a person with possession with intent to distribute when they want to increase the charge (and potential consequence) above a mere possession charge. Possession with Intent is a 2nd-degree felony and it is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The State of Florida cannot always prove the required elements needed to support a conviction for Possession with Intent. In fact, prosecutors often cannot prove more than a regular possession. An experienced lawyer can review your case and try to get your case REDUCED to a lesser charge.
Sale and Delivery
This occurs when someone actually completes the sale or delivery. Often, these cases involve a confidential informant who arranged the drug transaction and cooperated with police in exchange for favorable treatment in their own pending case. It is important to have an experienced lawyer to review your case to make sure you were not entrapped. Sometimes, depending on the facts, an entrapment defense is appropriate. Also, sometimes the police do not want to “burn” or give up the identity of their confidential informant. An experienced lawyer can use this to your advantage and attempt to get your charges REDUCED or DISMISSED.
This occurs when someone is growing or manufacturing the drugs. These cases often involve “grow houses.” Since most people do not grow or manufacture drugs out in the open, these cases usually depend largely on the police investigation. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced attorney review your case to determine whether the police surveillance or investigation was properly performed. If the police violated your 4th Amendment rights, you may be able to have certain evidence suppressed which will weaken the State of Florida’s case against you.
Trafficking cases carry at least a 3-year minimum/mandatory (min/man) prison sentence. Depending on the number of drugs, the min/man can be 15 years in prison or even higher. Trafficking cases do not stem from an actual drug deal. It is the weight of the drugs that classify it as trafficking. Therefore, even mere possession of a certain weight of drug can escalate it to a trafficking charge.
If the drugs were found following a search warrant, the case will boil down to the police investigation and whether the police followed all protocols and obtained enough evidence to apply and obtain a search warrant. If the arrest was due to a “control buy” (where police set up a drug deal), it is likely that a confidential informant played a large role in the case. Due to the minimum/mandatory prison sentences associated with trafficking cases, you should immediately hire an experienced lawyer to investigate your case and your defenses.