Possession of Drugs With Intent to Distribute Charges in Florida
The possession of a controlled substances with the intent of selling or distributing it, under both Florida and federal law, qualifies as a felony offense. At Musca Law, our skilled team of legal professionals know that there are a number of different elements of the crime of possession with the intent to sell, which must be proven by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. Per Florida Statutes Section 893.12(1)(a), the elements of the crime of possession of a controlled substance include:
- The accused knew of the substance;
- The substance qualifies as a controlled substance as defined in Florida Statutes Section 893.03;
- The accused had the controlled substance in his or her possession (either constructive or actual possession); and
- The accused had the intention of manufacturing, selling, or delivering the substance.
“Possession,” as noted above, can be constructive or actual. In general, the prosecution must establish that the defendant had control over or personal charge of a controlled substance, even if it was not on his or her person at the time of his or her arrest.
Some of the controlled substances that are most commonly involved in “intent to sell” cases are as follows:
- Prescription medications such as Vicodin, Xanax, Codeine, Oxycodone, Adderall, and Valium
Evidence Used by the Prosecution in Possession With Intent to Distribute Cases
In most cases, the defendant does not intend to sell the controlled substance that is in his or her possession, and prosecutors are aware of this fact. However, they often include the “intent to sell” charge in normal possession cases in order to stack the deck against the defendant. The idea is to push the defendant to enter into a plea deal that is unfavorable. In many cases, a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney can zealously push back and negotiate a plea deal on a significantly lesser charge, if, in fact, the case is not dismissed.
In some circumstances, there are certain items present that work against the defendant. Specifically, prosecutors use the following in support of their case:
- A large amount of money in or around the property where the drugs were found or in a vehicle;
- Baggies or other forms of packaging that are located in or close to property or a vehicle, consistent with a sale of drugs;
- Certain items are present including scales, kits, mixing devices, rolling papers, and other forms of drug paraphernalia that are connected with the sale of a controlled substance;
- Firearms in or around the property or vehicle where the controlled substances were located;
- A confession by the defendant or his or her associated of their intention to sell controlled substances; and
- The amount and kind of the controlled substances found.
Of course, none of the above elements (except perhaps a confession) is necessarily solid evidence that a person had the intention of selling drugs. This does not mean, however, that the prosecution won’t try to push that narrative.
If the controlled substances in question were uncovered above the “trafficking amounts,” then a drug trafficking charge will likely be pursued, irrespective of the existence of other evidence. However, “intent to sell” is a way to elevate simple possession charges even when the amount of the controlled substance that was uncovered by police was relatively low.
The Penalties Associated with the Intent to Sell Controlled Substances
Under Florida Statutes Sections 775.082, 775.083, and 775.084, they provide a list of the penalties associated with possessing a controlled substance with the intention of selling it.
- Schedule I and a few Schedule II substances – these constitute a felony in the second degree, which is associated with a term of imprisonment for fifteen years, and a monetary fine of up to $10,000 or both.
- Schedule III, Schedule IV, and a few Schedule II substances – these constitute a felony in the third degree, which is associated with a prison term of up to five years and/or a monetary fine of $5,000.
- Schedule V – this constitutes a misdemeanor in the first degree, which is associated with a one-year term of imprisonment in addition to a monetary fine of up to $1,000.
Penalties are subject to enhancement under certain circumstances. This includes whether a firearm or other type of weapon was involved in the commission of the crime, whether the crime occurred close to a school, whether the crime was associated with gang activity, and if the accused has a criminal record.
Challenging the Crime of Possession With Intent to Sell
The consequences for these offenses are extremely serious, so it is essential to hire a skilled Florida defense attorney to help you to challenge your charges.
There are several defenses that may pertain to a specific case, which means that a possession with intent to sell offense can be reduced to a simple possession. If the prosecution is not able to establish the elements of a possession case, then the case will be dismissed.
At times, there is the ability for the defense to assert that the evidence in the case was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment (against unlawful searches and seizures). The defense can also argue against the “intent” assertions, such as the presence of a large sum of cash or a firearm nearby, where they can claim that this was merely coincidental and not an indication of an intent to sell controlled substances.
Musca Law Stands Ready to Defend Your Legal Rights
If you or a loved one is facing drug-related 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 24/7. We look forward to helping you in any way we can.