In Florida, it is a felony to possess a controlled substance. However, the criminal charge of "possession of a controlled substance with the intent of selling or distributing" is a serious felony criminal charge punishable under both Florida and federal law. At Musca Law, our experienced team of Vero Beach Possession of Drugs With Intent to Distribute Lawyers understand that there are many elements of the crime of possession with the intent to sell that the prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. With an aggressive, hard-working defense attorney from Musca Law, the prosecution has a long, difficult road ahead of them. We are relentless when we defend our clients.
According to Florida Statutes Section 893.12(1)(a), the elements of a "possession of a controlled substance" criminal trial that the prosecutor must prove are:
- The defendant was aware of the substance;
- The substance was a controlled substance as described in Florida Statutes Section 893.03;
- The defendant had the controlled substance in their possession (either actual or constructive possession); and
- The defendant had the intention of selling, delivering, or the substance.
"Possession," as noted earlier, may be considered constructive or actual possession. In addition, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had personal charge of or control over the controlled substance, even if the controlled substance was not on them at the time of their arrest.
The following are the most common controlled substances that are often involved in "intent to sell" cases:
- Prescription medications such as Vicodin, Xanax, Codeine, Oxycodone.
The Prosecution's Evidence in Vero Beach "Possession With Intent to Distribute Cases"
In most drug arrests, the defendant has no intention of selling the controlled substance that is in their possession, and prosecutors are well aware of this truth. However, prosecutors will add a charge of "intent to sell" in a simple possession case to stack the deck against the defendant unjustly. The reason is simple, to force the defendant to enter into an unfavorable plea deal. In a lot of drug cases, an experienced Florida drug crime defense attorney can push back and negotiate plea deals with significantly lesser charges if the criminal case is not dismissed due to a thorough defense.
In some cases, there may be certain details present that may work against the defendant. Specifically, the prosecutors will typically use the following circumstances to support of their case:
- The defendant was found with a large amount of money in or around the property where the drugs were found or in a vehicle;
- Baggies consistent with a sale of drugs were found;
- Certain things such as scales, mixing devices, kits, rolling papers, and other drug paraphernalia connected with the sale of a controlled substance were found around the drugs;
- Firearms in or around where the controlled substances were found;
- A confession by the defendant about their intention to sell controlled substances; and
- The type and volume of the controlled substances found.
Of course, other than a confession, none of the above elements is deemed solid evidence that the defendant had the intention of drug dealing. However, the prosecution will try to push that narrative.
If the police found the amount of controlled substances above the "trafficking quantities," then prosecutors will probably pursue a drug trafficking charge, regardless of the evidence. However, "intent to sell" is an easy way for the prosecution to elevate simple drug possession charges even if the amount of the controlled substance uncovered by police was relatively low.
Intent to Sell Controlled Substances Penalties in Florida
Florida Statutes Sections 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084 provide a list of the penalties connected with possessing a controlled substance with the intention of selling.
Schedule I and some Schedule II Substances – These criminal charges are second-degree felonies associated with a prison sentence of up to fifteen years plus a monetary fine of up to $10,000.
Schedule III, Schedule IV, and a few Schedule II Substances – An offense involving Schedule II, IV, and some II drugs are charged as a third-degree felony, which is punished with a prison sentence of up to five years and/or a monetary fine of $5,000.
Schedule V Substances – A Schedule V drug possession charge is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor and is punished with up to a one-year in prison and a monetary fine of up to $1,000.
Penalties are also subject to enhancement under some circumstances. For example, if the defendant was found in possession of a firearm or other kind of lethal weapon while committing the crime, the crime transpired near a school, if the crime is associated with a gang, and if the defendant has a criminal record.
Challenging Possession With Intent to Sell Criminal Charges in Vero Beach, Florida
The outcomes in these offenses are always extremely serious. It is imperative to retain an experienced Florida defense attorney to help you to beat your criminal charges.
There are often several legal defenses that could be used in a drug possession case. In a lot of cases, a charge of possession with intent to sell offense could be negotiated down to a charge of simple possession. If the prosecutor is unable to prove the elements of a possession case, then the criminal case against the defendant will be dismissed.
In many cases, the defense can assert that the evidence collected by police was in violation of the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights (against unlawful searches and seizures). The defense may also argue against the prosecutor's "intent" assertions, such as the presence of a firearm or a large sum of cash on the defendant. It could be successfully argued that this circumstance was coincidental and not evidence of an intent to sell controlled illegal drugs or controlled substances.
Musca Law Works Hard to Beat Your Criminal Charges
If you or a member of your family is facing any drug-related charges, immediately seek the advice of one of our Florida drug crimes attorneys. Musca Law is one of Florida's largest criminal defense firms, and our attorneys have the extensive experience you need for your criminal charges. To speak with one of our experienced Florida criminal defense attorneys about your drug offense, contact Musca Law 24/7 by calling (772) 285-3782.
601 21st St Suite 300
Vero Beach, FL 32960