The State of Florida has determined that drugs cause a large percentage of crime committed in the state. Therefore, as Gainesville drug crime lawyers know all too well, Florida has ramped up enforcement and penalties for drug-related crimes.
Florida drug charges and penalties are based on the type and quantity of drug, what the person was doing with the drug, and the person’s criminal record. Generally speaking, simple possession is the least serious drug charge, with drug delivery next, and drug trafficking the most serious.
Those arrested with relatively small amounts of a drug presumably for personal use may be charged with simple possession. To get a conviction, the prosecutor must prove:
- The material seized is a controlled substance.
- The defendant knew it was a controlled substance.
- The defendant had possession or control of the substance, i.e. the substance was found on the defendant’s person or in a place over which the defendant had control.
Drug Delivery (Dealing)
A person may be charged with delivering drugs if he or she is caught in the act of selling or transferring drugs, or, as Gainesville drug crime lawyers often see, having a larger quantity of a drug than the law deems reasonable for personal use. A person may also be charged with delivery if the drugs are bagged or packaged for sale. A person can be convicted of delivery, even though no cash or anything of value has changed hands.
Drug trafficking is the intention to sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, possess, or transport into Florida a “trafficking amount” of drugs. The quantities that constitute a trafficking amount depend on the drug and vary from as little as a single gram for LSD to more than 25 pounds for marijuana.
Drug trafficking is a very serious crime. Once the minimum threshold for trafficking has been established, minimum mandatory prison sentences and fines apply and the penalties increase as greater quantities are involved. A minimum mandatory sentence means that, if convicted, the judge must sentence the defendant to at least the minimum mandatory sentence. Minimum mandatory prison time for trafficking offenses ranges from three years to life in prison and minimum mandatory fines go anywhere from $50,000 to $500,000.
Drug Crime Defenses
Some defenses that Gainesville drug crime lawyers may be able to raise to drug charges include:
- Illegal search and seizure.
- Lack of knowledge that the material was a controlled substance.
- Lack of control over the substance.
- Police entrapment.
- A valid prescription.
The penalties for Florida drug crimes involve high fines and significant jail or prison sentences. For example, the penalty for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, one of the least serious drug offenses, can be up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The penalty for possession of less than 28 grams of cocaine can be up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
In addition, your car and other property connected to the drug crime could be forfeited to the government and you could lose your driver’s license.
Alternative sentencing programs are available to some non-violent drug possession offenders. These programs allow individuals to have the charges dismissed or reduced if they complete probation and drug education and treatment.
Contact a Gainesville Drug Crime Lawyer
If you have been arrested for a drug crime or believe you are the subject of an investigation, you need to act quickly. A prompt, thorough investigation is essential to protect your rights and preserve your options. Call the Law Offices of Richard Mercure, PA – RPM Law at (352) 222-2047 for a free, confidential case evaluation.