Drug crimes and narcotic offenses can exist at both the state and federal level. A violation of either U.S. federal drug/narcotic laws or state drug/narcotic laws can lead to a charge and possible conviction. A successful conviction can carry severe penalties including jail time and payment of heavy fines. Moreover, Florida imposes certain minimum mandatory sentences for drug related offenses ranging from 3 year sentences up to life sentences for repeat offenders. Whether you have been charged with simple possession of marijuana or have been involved in the trafficking of narcotics, a criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights and assist in getting you the best possible outcome.
Types of Drug Crimes
In Florida, drug crimes and narcotic offenses include drug cultivation or grow houses, drug manufacturing, drug paraphernalia, drug possession, drug trafficking, marijuana possession, possession with intent, and prescription drug crimes. Drugs are also known as controlled substances and include cannabis, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, LSD, and heroin, among others. More information on each of the above listed drug-related crimes can be found below.
Drug Cultivation / Grow Houses / Manufacturing is the illegal production of a controlled substance including any preparation for the planting, harvesting or tending/caring of a controlled substance. Controlled substances are listed on “schedules” provided by both the state and federal levels.
Drug Paraphernalia includes any and all equipment, products, and materials used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, producing, packaging, storing, concealing, transporting, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or introducing a controlled substance or any substance made illegal as defined in both the federal and state “schedules” into the human body.
Drug Possession is the unlawful possession whether on the person or otherwise of a controlled substance or any substance as listed in both the federal and state “schedules.” It is not unlawful for an individual to have it on their person if it is prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner.
Drug Trafficking / Distribution / Sale / Transportation includes any action aimed at circulating any controlled substance or illegal substance as listed in both federal and state “schedules.”
Drug Importation / Smuggling is the act of bringing into the United States or from state to state illegal or controlled substances as listed in the state and federal “schedules.” Drug importation or drug smuggling can occur in various ways such as by using mules, disguising illegal merchandise as legal merchandise, hiding illegal substances inside other objects, or hiding illegal substances within a shipment of legal substances. The subsequent sentence following a successful conviction of drug importation or smuggling varies depending on the amount and type of illegal substance being smuggled or imported.
Marijuana Possession is the unlawful possession whether on the person or otherwise of Cannabis or Marijuana in any form. Marijuana possession may be legal if prescribed by a qualified medical practitioner. However, certain rules or restrictions do apply – only a qualified criminal defense attorney can help you determine if your marijuana possession is lawful.
Possession with Intent / Possession for Sale is the unlawful possession whether on the person or otherwise of an illegal or controlled substance with the intent to sell it. In Florida, possession with intent or possession for sale can be second or third degree felonies. The type of felony and the subsequent corresponding sentence depend on the type of controlled substance involved. Marijuana or cannabis is a Schedule 1 type of controlled substance and therefore possession with intent of marijuana or cannabis is a third degree felony. Cocaine is a Schedule 2 type of controlled substance and therefore possession with intent of cocaine is a second-degree felony.
Prescription Drug Crimes are crimes associated with the unlawful acquiring of prescription painkillers or other drugs without a medical need or actual prescription from a qualified medical physician. Prescription drugs are medications controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and require a prescription from a Doctor of Medicine before they can be acquired. Prescription drug crimes can occur through doctor shopping, prescription forgery or prescription fraud. Doctor shopping is the act of going to various doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions of drugs and is a third degree felony in Florida. Prescription forgery includes any of the following actions: illegally duplicating prescription, altering a prescription, or counterfeiting a prescription. Prescription fraud includes any action in order to obtain a prescription drug without a prescription. Some of the prescription drugs targeted include Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Valium, Morphine, Ativan, Vicodin, Percocet, and Xanax.
If you have been charged with a drug crime or narcotics offense, it is important to contact a Criminal Defense Attorney immediately.
Penalties for Drug Charges in Florida
Drug crimes have harsh penalties. It will take an aggressive defense and a thorough knowledge of Florida law to successfully handle your case. You should have an experienced Miami drug crime lawyer on your side. Whether you were arrested for drug trafficking, drug possession, or any other drug charge, you could face steep fines, driver’s license suspension, hefty court fees, and time in prison.
The penalties for a drug crime range from first-degree misdemeanor to first-degree felony. A felony is a much more serious criminal offense than a misdemeanor. Your actual outcome will be based on your prior criminal record and any aggravating factors.
For a second-degree misdemeanor, which is the lowest of the misdemeanor charges, you could face up to 60 days in jail and fines of up to $500. You could face up to one year in jail for a first-degree misdemeanor charge for drug possession, which is the maximum penalty for simple possession. Your charges could be enhanced if law enforcement believes you possessed the illegal drugs for sale or distribution.
The penalties for a federal drug crime range from probation to 30 years or even up to life in prison (felony of the first degree). The fines for possessing illegal narcotics or illegal drugs start at $5,000 and go into the millions of dollars. Your driving privileges could be suspended, and you may have to attend substance abuse counseling.
It is illegal to cultivate drugs in Florida, a crime that starts as a felony of the third degree and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
There are penalties for the rest of your life for a drug trafficking or drug possession conviction. A criminal record can interfere with your ability to get a job, a loan from the bank, or an apartment in the future. You may also have to forfeit any professional licenses. Our Miami drug crime lawyer is a former prosecutor, and will use his experience to help you get the best outcome in court for your future.
These are the most common questions our experienced Miami drug crime lawyers receive, but you can always contact us with your specific questions about drug offenses and the criminal justice system. Call us now if you’ve been arrested in Miami.
What are my rights if I have been charged with a Miami drug crime?
You should immediately hire a Miami drug crime lawyer or a Miami DUI attorney. State and federal laws prohibit drug trafficking or possession of narcotics, such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, and you could face harsh consequences under the law.
You have the right to remain silent during your drug arrest and interrogation. In accordance with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you are protected from any unreasonable searches or seizures by a law enforcement official.
What are some possible defenses to a drug offense or drug charges?
Entrapment is an illegal tactic used by law enforcement officers to induce a person to commit a drug crime they probably wouldn’t have committed otherwise. One aggressive defense strategy is to get the criminal charges dismissed on the basis that the defendant only committed the specific crime because they were coerced or harassed into it.
If the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence for a criminal conviction, then the drug charges may be dismissed. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to provide sufficient evidence of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the standard of proof that must be met in every drug crime case.
If your constitutional rights were violated and an illegal drug was found during an unlawful search, then we will build you an effective defense citing the Fourth Amendment. If a Miami-Dade County police officer wants to search your vehicle, for example, they must ask for consent or have other constitutional grounds. Miami drug crimes can be dismissed if the drugs were illegally seized.
What are aggravating factors in a drug crime?
In the criminal justice system, there are factors that affect the severity of your drug crime and sentencing. If you were arrested with intent to sell certain drugs within 1000 feet of a school, college, public park, assisted living facility, or certain other locations, then your drug trafficking charge could be enhanced. Other factors include:
- If a minor was involved
- The presence of a weapon
- If there was evidence of an intent to sell
Source: Florida Department of Health
Experienced Miami Drug Crime Lawyers
Contact Miami Criminal Defense Attorney, Julian Stroleny to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options. As a former state prosecutor who has handled numerous drug related cases, Julian Stroleny has the experience necessary to handle your case. Call Stroleny Law, P.A. at 305-615-1285 today for all of your Miami or Broward Criminal Defense needs.
Experienced Miami Drug Crime attorney, Julian Stroleny can help you throughout the entire legal process. He will work with you during the criminal defense process to ensure the best possible outcome.