Drug Possession Laws in Florida: Do You Have a Defense?
What started as a fun game of Pokemon Go ended up with drug possession charges for a Miami man, according to a recent report in the Miami Herald. While playing the popular augmented reality game, the man was pulled over by an officer who saw him exhibiting suspicious behavior. As he rolled down the window of his vehicle, a hefty cloud of marijuana floated out of the car. Police conducted a search and found a bag of pot, and arrested the man on possession of a controlled substance. The case raises questions about drug possession crimes in Florida and the penalties for violating the law.
What Proof do Prosecutors Need to Charge Someone with Possession?
To prove the crime of drug possession, a Florida prosecuting attorney must show that:
- The drug is a controlled substance as defined by Florida law, usually by crime lab analysis;
- The defendant knew or should reasonably have known the drug is illegal and that it was present on his or her person; and,
- The defendant had control over the substance
Having control over the drug is straightforward if the substance is in your pocket, purse, or other container on your person. However, a prosecutor can still demonstrate control if you have power over the location of the drug, such as having it in your car or motorcycle.
What are the Penalties for Violating Florida’s Drug Possession Laws?
There are a range of punishments for possessing a controlled substance, depending on the type of drug involved. Possession of some controlled substances is considered a felony, while it may be a misdemeanor in other cases.
- Second Degree Misdemeanor: You could be sentenced up to 60 days in prison and a fine up to $500
- First Degree Misdemeanor: A sentence might include imprisonment up to one year, plus probation and fine up to $1,000.
- Third Degree Felony: You may be required to serve five years in prison and pay a fine not to exceed $5,000.
- Second Degree Felony: Your prison sentence may be up to 15 years, with a fine up to $10,000.
In the case of marijuana possession, if you have less than 20 grams of the drug, the charge is a first degree misdemeanor.
Are There Any Defenses to a Drug Possession Crime?
It is possible to beat a drug possession charge by presenting defenses to the claim. Options include:
- You lacked knowledge that the drug was a controlled substance;
- You had a prescription for the drug, as issued by a healthcare professional;
- Police created a situation of entrapment; or,
- The search that turned up the controlled substances was unlawful, as a violation of your Fourth Amendment civil right against unlawful search and seizure.
If you have been charged with drug possession in Miami-Dade County, you need a qualified lawyer to represent your interests. An attorney with experience in these types of cases will fight for your rights and present proper defenses to ensure the best possible result. For more information on drug possession crimes in Florida, please contact the lawyers at Musca Law Criminal & DUI Defense to schedule a consultation.