Florida Drug Crime Attorney
Defending Your Rights with 150+ Years’ Experience
Are you faced with drug crimes charges in Florida? You are probably experiencing anxiety, confusion, and worry over your future, and rightly so! Florida carries severe penalties for those convicted of drug crimes, whether it involves trafficking, selling, possession, or more. Crimes involving prescription drugs, meth, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other drugs can significantly impact your future and can be prosecuted on both the state and federal level. With the right defense, your future can be aggressively protected. At Musca Law, our skilled Florida drug crimes lawyers are backed by over 150 years of collective experience. We are dedicated to each of our clients, treating them with the respect and individual attention necessary to obtain the best possible outcomes on their behalf.
Types of Drug Crimes
Depending on the type of crime committed, penalties may be classified as either misdemeanors or felonies, and are subject to varying degrees of severity.
Common drug crimes involve the following:
- Manufacturing a controlled substance
- Delivering a controlled substance
- Possessing a controlled substance
- Possessing a controlled substance with the intention to sell, manufacture, or distribute a controlled substance
- Trafficking a controlled substance
- Selling a controlled substance
- Falsely obtaining a controlled substance
- Falsely prescribing a controlled substance
Other drug-related offenses are categorized based on where they are committed, such as near a school or childcare facility. Steep prison sentences and hefty fines are common for drug crime convictions.
Possessing and Attempting to Sell Drugs in Florida
As directed by the Florida Statutes Title XXXIII, Chapter 499.03 (1), an individual may not possess (or possess with an intention of selling) any drugs that are harmful, toxic, potentially habit-forming, or brand new (on the market). Individuals who are exempt from this rule include:
- People who have received a prescription for the drug from a practitioner who is licensed to prescribe drugs of this nature
- An employee or representative of an agency that deals with these drugs as part of regular, legal business practices
- Medical professionals who control the drugs as part of daily work (e.g. doctors)
Any violation of Chapter 499.03(1) of FS is considered a 2nd-degree misdemeanor.
Possessing and Attempting to Sell Controlled Substances in Florida
Of course, the case of obtaining and attempting to sell a controlled substance may result in more severe forms of punishment. As indicated in FS Title XLVI, Chapter 817.563, the possession and attempt to sell any controlled substances is completely unlawful in the State of Florida.
Any individual who attempts to complete this act will potentially face one of two punishments, depending on the type of drug that was the focal point of the crime:
- Anyone found guilty of the possession and/or sale of substances listed under Chapter 893.03 (1), (2), (3), or (4) will be charged with a 3rd-degree felony.
- Anyone found guilty of the possession and/or sale of substances listed under Chapter 893.03 (5) will be charged with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor.
For a full list of drugs and schedules, be sure to read FS Title XLVI, Chapter 893.03.
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Possessing and Attempting to Sell Counterfeit Controlled Substances in Florida
As directed by FS Title XLVI, Chapter 831.31 (1), the possession and intent to manufacture and sell any counterfeit controlled substance is completely unlawful in the State of Florida. Anyone who attempts to manufacture or sell a drug listed under Chapter 893.03 (1-4) will face charges of a 3rd-degree felony, while individuals who attempt to manufacture or sell drugs included in Chapter 893.03 (5) will be charged with a 2nd-degree misdemeanor.
Defining “Imitation Controlled Substances”
The Florida Statutes Title XLVI, Chapter 817.564 (1) defines “imitation controlled substances” as pills, capsules, tablets, or any other substance that is not a controlled substance mentioned in Chapter 893.03, which has a high potential for abuse, and which:
- May be mistaken for an actual controlled substance because it shares a similar color, shape, markings, and packaging as the real drug (pill, capsule, tablet, etc.)
- Is advertised as a controlled substance but does not induce the same effects
Any possession and/or intention to sell a drug of this nature will result in a 3rd-degree felony.
Determination of a Valid Drug Crime Case on the Grounds of “Intent to Sell”
As outlined in the Florida Statutes 893.13 (1-a) and (2-a) and the instructions laid out for members of a criminal jury highlighted in Case 25.2, members of the court must prove (without any doubt) that:
- The defendant had manufactured, sold, delivered, purchased, or intended to sell a specific type of substance.
- The substance was successfully identified.
- The defendant was fully knowledgeable of the substance’s presence in his or her environment.
If the defendant has been arrested for delivering cannabis (20 pounds or less), the court must prove (without a doubt), that this individual was trafficking the specified amount of the herb. (Such decisions will result in charges of a misdemeanor.)
Keep in mind that Case 25.2 does not include “manufacturing” as the processing, production, compounding, or final preparation of any drug involved in the incident.
Understanding the Terminology of Case 25.2 for Drug Crimes on the Grounds of “Intent to Sell”
Here is a closer look at the terminology set out for jurors in Case 25.2 for a case of drug crimes, on the grounds of intent to sell:
- “Sell” refers to the transference or delivery of a product to another person in exchange for money or guaranteed expenses.
- “Manufacture” refers to the processes of producing, propagating, compounding, growing, or cultivating a controlled substance by extracting chemicals from the natural source or synthesizing varieties in a laboratory (also includes packaging and re-labeling).
- In this case, “cannabis” refers to the buds, stems, leaves, flowers, and any other parts of the cannabis plant (either by growing or receiving the plant).
Determination of a Valid Drug Crime Case on the Grounds of Drug Possession
As outlined in the Florida Statutes 893.13 (6) and the instructions laid out for members of a criminal jury highlighted in Case 25.7, members of the court must prove (without any doubt) that:
- The defendant had been in possession of a substance in question.
- The substance was successfully identified.
- (In the even that the drug is cannabis) The amount of cannabis was more than 20 grams.
- The defendant was fully aware of the existence and presence of the substance.
- The defendant knowingly and willfully exercised possession and control of this substance.
Keep in mind that being in the proximity of a substance is not a substantial ground for charges. The defendant must have had some personal power of the drug in question and must have handled it.
Determination of a Valid Drug Crime Case on the Grounds of Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Means of Fraudulent Activity
As outlined in the Florida Statutes 893.13 (7)(a) 9 and the instructions laid out for members of a criminal jury highlighted in Case 25.8, members of the court must prove (without any doubt) that:
- The defendant had made an attempt to obtain or acquire the substance in question.
- The substance was successfully identified.
- The defendant had obtained/acquired the substance by means of fraudulence or deception.
Grounds for Defense in a Drug Crime Case for “Intent to Sell”
Based on the readout of Case 25.2 (for intention to sell), the culprit may defend his or her case if they were not in proximity to the drug, specifically meaning that he or she was not in direct control of the substance and was not in the close vicinity of this particular drug. However, in the case that the defendant and another person were fully knowledgeable about the drug, the court will recognize this incident as a form of joint possession.
If the court does not possess proper knowledge of the drug in question and cannot successfully identify the substance, the defendant may also use this evidence to his or her advantage.
Grounds for Defense in a Drug Crime Case for “Drug Possession”
Based on the readout of Case 25.7 (and similar to the layout in case 25.2), the defendant may be able to defend their case based on the fact that they were not in proximity of the drug in question. Just because a person was in the vicinity of a drug (e.g. in the same building) does not necessarily mean that individual had attempted to seize control of this substance.
Based on Chapter 893.21 of the Florida Statutes, a person who is rendering aid to an individual who is suffering from a deadly overdose on the drug in question will not be prosecuted for any drug crimes. In any case, the defendant can use this information to his or her defense if she was in this situation (as the rescuer).
For special cases of involuntary or superficial possession, please review the following cases:
- Hamilton v. State, 732 So. 2d 493 (Fla. 2d DCA 1999)
- Sanders v. State, 563 So. 2d 781 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990)
As of 2014, the Florida Legislature passed laws related to the control of medical-grade cannabis (low-THC cannabis), which is completely excluded from the plants covered in Florida Statutes § 893.02(3). In turn, these plants must meet standards for manufacture, possession, sales, distribution, and delivery detailed in § 381.986. Any case when a defendant requires cannabis for medical purposes and possesses legal identification (e.g. a medical card) will require special attention. People who are registered to take this drug and do so within legal limits may have grounds for defense.
Grounds for Defense in a Drug Crime Case for Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Means of Fraudulent Activity
In accordance with details covered in Court Case 25.8 (similar to 25.2 and 25.7), a failure to identify a substance in question can be a basis for defense. Keep in mind that the court must have little to no viable knowledge of this particular substance and (in the case of fraudulent activity) must have proof that the defendant knew the drug was part of a deceptive promotion.
Reiterating the details covered in Case 25.7, the Florida Legislature recently passed laws related to the control of medical cannabis (low-THC variety), which is excluded from drugs outlined in FS § 893.02(3). In the event that a defendant has a cannabis prescription and a legal medical card for this purpose, special instructions will be required.
Penalties for Committing a Drug Crime in Florida
As defined in the Florida Statutes Title XXXIII, Chapter 499.03 (1), any attempt to possess and/or sell any drugs that are harmful, toxic, potentially habit-forming, or brand new (on the market) will result in charges of a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a fine of $500 and a possible prison time that does not exceed 60 days.
Any attempt to possess or sell a controlled substance (FS Title XLVI, Chapter 817.563) or a counterfeit controlled substance (FS Title XLVI, Chapter 831.31) will result in one of two forms of punishment:
- Possession/sale of drugs listed in Chapter 893.03 (1), (2), (3), or (4) will result in charges of a 3rd-degree felony, which will result in a $5,000 fine and/or imprisonment of no more than 5 years.
- Possession/sale of drugs listed in Chapter 893.03 (5) will result in charges of a 2nd-degree misdemeanor, resulting in a $500 fine and a possible prison time of no more than 60 days.
According to FS Title XLVI, Chapter 817.564 (1), an individual who attempts to possess and/or sell imitation controlled substances will face charges of a 3rd-degree felony, resulting in a $5,000 fine and a prison sentence that does not exceed 5 years.
Resources for Cases Involving Drug Crimes in the State of Florida
FS Chapter 499.03 – Sale and Possession of Drugs
FS Chapter 831.31 – Counterfeit substances
Contact a Capable Florida Drug Crimes Lawyer from Musca Law!
At Musca Law, our team of experienced Florida drug crimes attorneys have skillfully defended the rights of numerous clients facing drug crime charges. We can ensure that your rights are upheld throughout the entire legal process and that you are protected from manipulative tactics and unjust charges. Don’t hesitate to call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation, and confidential consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.