Jacksonville Drug Crime Attorneys
Florida drug charges are serious business. How serious the penalties are depends on the classification of the drug, the quantity of the drug, and what conduct is alleged to have been occurring with the drug. Some common drug offenses include drug possession, drug sale, drug manufacture, and drug trafficking. As mentioned before, drug offenses in Florida are no joke and since the vast majority of such offenses are felonies, the possibility of prison is often looming when drug crimes are at play.
However, many Florida counties, including Duval County, have special drug courts. These courts are designed to help people with substance abuse problems make positive changes in their lives. In other words, there is a wide range of possible outcomes for people charged with drug crimes in Florida.
If you’ve been charged with drug possession, drug sale, drug trafficking, or another drug-related crime, you can’t afford to leave the outcome to chance. The sooner you talk to an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes lawyer, the better.
In fact, you can easily schedule a free consultation with the criminal defense firm of Lufrano Legal, P.A. today. The firm’s Board-Certified Expert in Criminal Trial Law, Matthew Lufrano, can explain to you the charges you face, the potential penalties, assess the case against you for weaknesses, describe your options, and help you make a good decision about how to proceed. Just call 904-513-3905 or contact us online.
Types of Florida Drug Crimes
When you hear “drug crime,” you probably think of possession of or trafficking in illegal drugs. Those are two of the most common types of drug charges, but they are far from the only ones. Our Jacksonville drug crime lawyers also represent people who have been charged with unlawful possession of prescription drugs, procurement of drugs by fraud or forgery, sale of drugs, manufacture of drugs, and a variety of other charges.
If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, you may be having difficulty sorting out the applicable law and whether or not you were properly charged. This analysis can be tricky, which is why it helps to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side.
Possession of a Controlled Substance
While you typically hear the term drug possession tossed around, in Florida, individuals facing such a charge are formally charged with an offense known as possession of a controlled substance. Moreover, while it may not seem like the most serious of charges, a charge of possession of virtually any substance other than cannabis will be classified as a felony in Florida. This means that a person convicted could be facing prison and the case should be taken extremely seriously.
Additionally, the offense of possession of a controlled substance, also known as drug possession, isn’t as simple as people sometimes expect. In fact, a person can be convicted of this offense even if such a substance isn’t in their hands or on their person. That’s why it is critical for those facing a charge of drug possession to have a skilled defense attorney who can explain the law on actual vs constructive possession and evaluate the quality of the case itself.
Some important questions your attorney may ask you regarding a case for possession of a controlled substance will include:
- How did the police observe or discover the substance in question?
- Where was this substance discovered?
- Where was the substance discovered in relation to you?
- Did you or anyone else provide members of law enforcement with consent to search?
- What was the substance that was actually discovered?
- How much of this substance was present?
- How did members of law enforcement measure this amount?
The answers to these questions and others may provide your attorney with insight into the quality of the case, how strong a particular defense might be, and whether you may be eligible to file a motion to suppress. For additional information on the offense of possession of a controlled substance you can check out Florida Statute 893.13(6)(a) or contact the criminal defense firm of Lufrano Legal, P.A.
Sale of a Controlled Substance
It may not come as a huge surprise, but here in Florida the sale of drugs, also known as the sale of controlled substances, is a more serious offense than mere possession. In fact, while an individual charged with possession of a controlled substance might face up to five years in prison, in Florida sale of a controlled substance typically carries a maximum sentence of three times that, or fifteen years in prison.
Additionally, the offense of sale of a controlled substance can become an even more serious offense if an individual is armed during the transaction or if the transaction occurs within 1000 feet of certain protected locations, like convenience stores or churches. Furthermore, to be convicted of a sale of a controlled substance money doesn’t have to exchange hands as long as the drugs in question were exchanged for something of value or the promise of something of value a person may.
So when confronted with an offense as significant as a sale of a controlled substance it’s vital to have a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. An attorney can advise you about the potential penalties you face, the quality of the State’s case against you, potential defenses, like entrapment, that might exist, and offer you options on how best to proceed. So if you or a loved one are facing a charge of sale of a controlled substance don’t delay, call the firm of Lufrano Legal, P.A. at (904) 513-3905.
Trafficking in a Controlled Substance
It may come as no surprise that the offense of trafficking in a controlled substance is an incredibly serious offense. It’s an offense that can easily carry up to thirty years in prison, massive fines, and some even carry mandatory minimum prison sentences. Moreover, while most people have heard of the offense of drug trafficking, the image in most folks’ heads of a drug trafficker would be someone who is responsible for moving massive amounts of drugs. But the reality in Florida is that trafficking isn’t an offense reserved for the kingpins depicted on television and film. The truth is it is far easier for someone to stand accused of trafficking than most would expect, and the reason being that the key component for trafficking isn’t whether a person is selling, delivering, manufacturing, or even possessing a controlled substance.
The critical question for a trafficking charge is how much of the controlled substance is present. In fact, if the amount of a controlled substance present is over the trafficking limit, then it doesn’t matter if a person was just possessing this substance or selling it, either could qualify as trafficking. It should also be noted that these trafficking limits in Florida are often quite low, for instance the possession of 4 grams or more of heroin is enough to qualify as trafficking.
Furthermore, since one of the critical issues involved with any trafficking case may be the amount of the illicit substance in question, it’s critical to make sure that members of law enforcement followed the proper procedures in measuring that amount. It’s also just as vital to have an attorney that understands what limits and restrictions the law imposes on such measurements.
So if you or a loved one are facing a trafficking charge, don’t wait until it’s too late, reach out to the firm of Lufrano Legal, P.A. But if you happen to have additional questions on the offense of trafficking you might want to take a look at Florida Statute at 893.135, which happens to be the trafficking statute.
Fighting Florida Drug Charges
Facing criminal charges is stressful, especially when the potential penalties could involve years in prison, massive fines, or mandatory minimum prison sentences. Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the criminal justice system alone. An experienced drug crimes attorney may be able to:
- Find flaws in the evidence that persuade the prosecuting attorney to reduce charges or dismiss the charges;
- Find violations of your rights, such as an illegal search, that may lead to evidence being excluded and the prosecution being unable to prove its case;
- Get your case diverted into drug court, where the focus is on rehabilitation rather than harsh punishment; or
- Fight the charges against you at trial.
Because both the substantive law surrounding drug crimes and the criminal court procedures can be complicated and confusing, it’s easy to make mistakes that can harm your case. So, the sooner you connect with an experienced local criminal defense attorney who handles drug crime cases, the better.
While many criminal defense attorneys avoid trials and are focused on negotiating a plea, the firm of Lufrano Legal, P.A. is comfortable and experienced in the courtroom. Our firm’s recommendations are based on what is likely to achieve the best possible outcome in your specific case, whether that means diverting into drug court, negotiating a plea, or fighting for a not guilty verdict.
Florida Drug Crime Penalties
As mentioned above the possible consequences of drug crimes vary significantly based upon the substance at play, the conduct alleged involving that substance, and the amount of the substance present. But below you will find a list of some penalties one might encounter if facing a drug offense.
- Suspension of one’s privilege to drive → It turns out that if convicted of any controlled substance offense, be it possession or trafficking, the Florida DHSMV will automatically impose a suspension of your privilege to drive.
- Incarceration → It should come as no surprise that any drug offense, whether it be misdemeanor possession of cannabis all the way up to trafficking in narcotics can carry a period of incarceration. For a misdemeanor that period cannot exceed a year in the county jail, but for third degree felonies it can be up to five years in prison, for a second degree felony it can be up to fifteen years in prison, and for a first degree felony it can be up to thirty years in prison.
- Probation → In addition to having incarceration as a potential sentence, it is also possible to be sentenced to a period of probation for a drug offense. Probation typically involves being supervised for a set period of time, remaining crime free, having to comply with specific conditions tailored to the offense, and passing random drug screenings. Moreover failure to comply with these conditions could result in a warrant being issued for your arrest and being brought again before the Court to face additional sanctions.
- Fines → Drug or Controlled Substance Offenses typically carry some kind of fine if a person is found guilty of the offense at trial or plead to it. That said these fines are astronomically higher if an individual is charged with trafficking. In fact the lowest fine that a trafficking charge in Florida carries is $50,000.00.
- Permanent Record→ Some Drug or Controlled Substance Offenses, like trafficking or manufacture of a controlled substance cannot ever be sealed. So it’s important to find out whether a plea to a particular drug offense will result in a permanent criminal record.
Contact A Jacksonville Drug Charge Lawyer
Don’t try to manage this complex and often frightening process alone. Give yourself the advantage and peace of mind that comes with having a seasoned drug crime defense attorney by your side.
Florida Drug Crime FAQs
As you can see, Florida drug crime law is complex. The seriousness of a drug charge depends on a variety of factors, including the substance involved, the amount, and the specific act you’re accused of. When you’re facing any drug charge, it’s in your best interest to talk with an experienced Florida drug crimes attorney right away.
Below, we’ve provided general answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
What is considered a drug crime?
“Drug crime” covers a lot of ground in Florida. For example, possession of a controlled substance, including substances like cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine, is a drug crime. Even a legal drug may give rise to drug charges if you don’t have a prescription or give or sell the drug to someone else. Florida law also prohibits a range of other activities, such as selling, delivering, or manufacturing controlled substances.
What drug crimes are felonies?
Most Florida drug crimes are felonies. While possession of a small amount of marijuana without government authorization is a misdemeanor, possession of more than 20 grams is a felony of the third degree. Possession of any amount of other drugs–including cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine–is a felony in the third degree, carrying a possible penalty of up to five years in prison. Also as mentioned above the possession of controlled substances like oxycodone, alprazolam (Xanax), or others without a prescription is also a third-degree felony.
Further, the possession of larger quantities, or acts beyond mere possession, may constitute even more serious felonies carrying even steeper penalties. These types of offenses include charges for trafficking, sale, delivery, or manufacture of controlled substances.
How do you challenge a drug possession case?
The best way to fight Florida drug charges depends on the specifics of the case. Some possible approaches include:
- Challenging the validity of the search, which may lead to the evidence being suppressed and may make it impossible for the prosecution to prove its case,
- Having the substance tested to determine whether it falls within the statutory definition,
- Arguing that you did not know the illicit nature of the substance, or;
- Arguing that you were not in possession of the substance.
This last defense most often comes into play when the charge involves what was formally referred to as constructive possession, which means that the drugs weren’t on your person, but the prosecution is arguing that they were within your control, you knew where they were, and you knew what they were.
Since there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to fighting drug possession charges, you should contact an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
What are the consequences for drug charges?
The possible consequences of a drug conviction depend on both the crime you’re charged with and your history. Most Florida drug crimes are felonies and may result in a years-long prison sentence. In some cases, the maximum possible sentence may be in excess of 30 years in prison. In addition, a person convicted of drug crimes may face significant fines and suspension of driving privileges. Also, while Florida law prevents criminal records from being sealed or expunged if convicted, Florida law also prohibits the sealing or expungement of some drug crimes even if a person was not formally convicted, meaning that the disposition of some offense might stick with you for life.
A conversation with an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes attorney is the best way to gather reliable information about the full range of possible consequences associated with your charges, and what your options may be for fighting those charges or negotiating more lenient treatment. In some cases, your attorney may even be able to negotiate for a diversion. Successful completion of a drug diversion program not only results in the dismissal of charges but also provides the ability to ultimately seal or expunge one’s criminal record.
Does having drugs in your system count as possession?
As with many questions in the legal world, this is another where the answer depends. That said, generally testing positive for a controlled substance during a drug test would not be enough to support the initiation of a new criminal charge being filed against someone for possession of a controlled substance.
However, that doesn’t mean that a positive drug test also commonly referred to as a dirty drug test is nothing to worry about. Depending on the circumstances, it could result in incarceration or additional penalties. For example, if a person is on pretrial release and they have a positive drug test it could support the revocation of their bond and lead to reincarceration pending the resolution of the case.
Furthermore, if an individual is on probation and fails a drug test that could result in a probation violation, and depending on what offense someone is on probation for jail or prison time. As such positive drug tests are nothing to be ignored or overlooked.