The majority of drug-related arrests in the State of Florida are due to the possession of drug paraphernalia. Although many believe that this crime is a minor offense, the reality is that it can lead to serious legal repercussions, even for those who have never been convicted of a crime.
The Florida criminal defense attorneys at Musca Law have the experience and knowledge necessary to contest your drug possession charges by attacking the “possession” requirements, as well as the argument made by the prosecution, including the legality of the police’s actions in searching or seizing key evidence.
Our skilled team of legal professionals have significant knowledge of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, as this is often arises in possession of drug paraphernalia cases, specifically in the context of improper searches and seizures of evidence.
In light of the above, it is critical that you seek seasoned legal representation given that the crime of possession of drug paraphernalia is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is associated with a potential jail term of up to one year, monetary fines, court costs, as well as a lengthy period of probation, which often involves extensive requirements (such as random drug testing and mandatory substance abuse treatment).
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Florida
Under Florida Statutes Section 893.147, the State of Florida defines the delivery, manufacture, advertisement, transportation, and retail sale of drug paraphernalia.
These provisions also make it illegal to use or intend to use drug paraphernalia, deliver or manufacture drug paraphernalia, deliver drug paraphernalia to a minor, or transport drug paraphernalia.
Depending upon the nature of the offense and exact charge, a drug possession case may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor in the first degree, a felony in the third degree, or a felony in the second degree.
Under 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 . . .”
Common types of drug paraphernalia include:
- Syringes, hypodermic syringes, and other forms of paraphernalia that are used for the injection of controlled substances into the body;
- Objects or contains that are used for concealing, storing, or transporting controlled substances;
- Balances and scales designed to use or intended for use in measuring or weighing controlled substances;
- Cutting devices, rolling papers, balloons, testing devices, and baggies;
- Bowls, blenders, spoons, containers, and mixing devices intended for use, used, or designed for the purpose of compounding controlled substances,
- Acrylic, wooden, stone, metal, plastic, or ceramic pipes, without or with permanent screens, screens, punctured metal bowls, or hashish heads; and
- Smoking and carburetion masks, water pipes, other air driven pipes, bongs, “roach clips,” “crackers,” “whip it” devices, and vials.
Proving Drug Possession in Florida
A primary component of drug possession cases is proving that the accused possessed any of the above-referenced items. In Florida, there are two types of possession: actual or constructive.
A person accused of actual possession of drug paraphernalia is caught by police because he or she has it on their person, right within each reach, or under his or her control. Conversely, a person with constructive possession of drug paraphernalia may not actually have the paraphernalia on their person or within their reach, but has control over it or has hidden it.
There are certain drug paraphernalia cases where the accused lacked actual control of drug paraphernalia but knew the items were within his or her presence, or at one point in time had control over drug paraphernalia.
There are drug paraphernalia cases where there is the possibility of joint possession where a residence or vehicle is jointly owned, or operated by another individual or the items are located at a place where multiple individuals are present. In these instances, it is often difficult for the prosecution to prove constructive possession.
Penalties for the Possession for Drug Paraphernalia in Florida
The punishment for drug paraphernalia offenses are contingent upon the accused’s prior criminal history as well as the exact nature of the crime. As noted above, the possession of drug paraphernalia in Florida constitutes a first-degree misdemeanor, which carries with it a jail term of up to one year, up to one year of probation, and a maximum $1,000 monetary fine. Keep in mind that probation may 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 is 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 will 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 for the purpose of verifying or testing the drugs before purchasing it. This is not sufficient to establish drug possession, per Florida case law.
Musca Law Stands Ready to Defend 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 from the start. Musca Law is a large criminal defense firm that has extensive experience handling serious criminal charges. To speak with a Florida criminal defense attorney about your criminal matter, contact Musca Law today by calling (888) 484-5057 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We look forward to helping you in any way we can.