In Florida, the majority of drug arrests are "possession of drug paraphernalia. Although most people think that a drug paraphernalia crime is a minor criminal offense, the truth is these offenses can lead to severe legal consequences, even if the defendant has no prior convictions on his or her criminal record.
The Vero Beach Drug Paraphernalia Attorneys at Musca Law have the knowledge and experience needed to defend you again a drug paraphernalia possession charge by attacking the "possession" elements and all other arguments raised by the prosecution, including the legitimacy of the police's actions in stopping, searching or seizing key evidence.
Our experienced team of legal professionals has significant knowledge of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This frequently arises in possession of drug paraphernalia cases, especially in the circumstances of improper searches and seizures of evidence.
In Florida, possession of drug paraphernalia is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punished with a jail sentence of up to one year, court costs, monetary fines, ruined reputation, and a lengthy period of probation that will have extensive requirements (such as mandatory substance abuse treatment and random drug testing).
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Charges in Vero Beach, Florida
Florida Statutes Section 893.147 provides the sentencing guidelines for the manufacture, possession, delivery, advertisement, retail sale, and transportation of drug paraphernalia. Depending upon the essence of the criminal offense and the exact charge, a drug paraphernalia possession case could be charged as a felony in the third degree, a felony in the second degree, or a misdemeanor in the first degree.
Under Florida Statute Section 893.147, drug paraphernalia is defined as "all equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, transporting, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance . . ."
The most common types of drug paraphernalia include:
- Hypodermic syringes, syringes, and other forms of paraphernalia used to inject controlled substances into the body;
- Containers used to conceal, store, or transport controlled substances;
- Scales and balances used to measure or weigh controlled substances;
- Rolling papers, cutting devices, balloons, baggies and testing supplies;
- Bowls, spoons, blenders, and mixing devices used for the purpose of compounding controlled substances,
- Acrylic, metal, wooden, stone, ceramic, or plastic pipes, with or without permanent screens, punctured metal bowls, screens, or hashish heads; and
- Water pipes, Smoking and carburetion masks, air-driven pipes, "roach clips," bongs, "crackers," "whip it" devices, and vials.
Proving Drug Possession in Vero Beach, Florida
The primary element of drug paraphernalia possession cases is proving that the defendant possessed any of the aforementioned items. In the state of Florida, there are two types of possession: constructive or actual.
A person who has been accused of actual possession of drug paraphernalia has been caught by the police with the paraphernalia on them, or within each reach, or under their control. A person accused of constructive possession of drug paraphernalia might not have the paraphernalia on them or within their reach, but they have control over it or have hidden it.
There are some drug paraphernalia cases where the paraphernalia is deemed joint possession. These cases involve circumstances where a residence or motor vehicle is jointly owned, or the paraphernalia is located at a place where several individuals are present. Under these circumstances, it is usually very difficult for the prosecution to prove constructive possession.
Penalties for the Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Vero Beach, Florida
The punishment for a drug paraphernalia convict is dependent upon the defendant's prior criminal history and the nature of the crime. As noted above, the possession of drug paraphernalia in Florida constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punished with a jail sentence of up to one year, up to one year of probation, and a maximum of $1,000 monetary fine. Probation may also require random drug testing, as well as the requirement to undergo substance abuse counseling and/or treatment, whether inpatient or outpatient. The offender must pay for these services out of his or her own pocket.
If an individual actually manufactures or delivers drug paraphernalia, it constitutes a third-degree felony, which is associated with a five-year jail term, as well as monetary fines and probation.
It would be a second-degree felony if drug paraphernalia was made to a minor (a person under the age of eighteen). The penalties associated with a felony in the second degree are a maximum fifteen-year prison term as well as monetary fines and probation.
Defenses that Apply in Florida Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Cases
Our seasoned Florida drug paraphernalia possession defense attorneys examine all aspects of an accused's case, including analyzing whether law enforcement conducted a proper search and seizure of evidence. If law enforcement violated an accused's Fourth Amendment right to a proper search and seizure, our skilled Florida criminal defense attorneys will file a motion to suppress to exclude such improperly obtained evidence.
Moreover, our team of legal professionals will closely examine the elements of a drug paraphernalia possession charge and render a determination as to whether the evidence is insufficient to establish a conviction. This may assist the defense in negotiating a plea deal or possibly obtain a dismissal or reduction of the charges.
Another element that may be considered by the defense is the "overdose defense." This is a protection afforded to people who seek medical assistance for a drug-related overdose. If drug paraphernalia was found on a person who is pursuing medical treatment, they would be immune from prosecution.
There is also the "temporary possession" defense, which applies when a person who is in the presence of another person who owns drug paraphernalia takes temporary possession of drug paraphernalia to verify or test the drugs before purchasing it. This is not sufficient to establish drug possession, per Florida case law.
Musca Law Aggressively Defends Your Legal Rights
If you or a loved one is facing drug paraphernalia possession charges, act quickly to seek the advice of a seasoned Florida criminal defense attorney. Your constitutional rights are on the line, and you need the best defense possible right from the start. Musca Law is one of the largest criminal defense firm's and has 150 years of combined legal experience handling serious drug charges. To speak with a Vero Beach drug paraphernalia defense attorney about your criminal matter, contact Musca Law today by calling (772) 285-3782.
601 21st St Suite 300
Vero Beach, FL 32960