What is a controlled substance in Florida? There is an extensive list of controlled substances in the Florida Statutes that contain drugs like Methamphetamine, Opium, PCP, and Marijuana. Some substances listed like Ambien (the sleeping aid), Codeine, Morphine, Xanax, and Valium are prescribed drugs that you may not have even known are listed as controlled substances in the State of Florida.
The impact of a drug being classified as a “controlled substance” is that its misuse could lead to a criminal charge. For example, a person driving with Xanax in his or her bloodstream could be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) – even if that person has a valid prescription for the drug. Another common charge is the possession of a non-prescribed controlled substance.
Penalties for being charged with possession of a controlled substance
The penalty for possession of any of these government-regulated drugs varies depending on the type of drug involved and its designation as either a Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III, Schedule IV, or Schedule V substance. It typically ranges from a second (2nd) degree Misdemeanor (with a possible $500.00 fine and up to 60 days in jail) to a third (3rd) degree Felony (with a $5,000.00 fine and up to 5 years in prison). However, special circumstances such as evidence of an intent to sell (due to large quantities of the drug or money) or proximity to a school could enhance a drug possession charge to a second or first-degree felony. Of course, possession of a drug with a valid prescription from a medical doctor is free from sanction, as long as the user is not Driving Under the Influence, intending to sell, or otherwise misusing the drug.
Possession of Marijuana under twenty (20) grams is considered one of the lowest drug possession charges. However, as a first (1st) degree misdemeanor, a conviction for Possession of Marijuana under twenty (20) grams could still result in probation, the loss of your driving privilege, or even jail.
If simple possession of a small amount of marijuana carries stiff potential penalties, it follows that the penalties for more serious drugs such as Fentanyl, Cocaine, Heroin, and Meth are much higher.
Elements of Drug Charges
In order to achieve a conviction for drug possession, the State needs to prove that the accused had actual or constructive possession over the illegal substance. Actual possession means knowingly and physically possessing the drug. Constructive possession means knowledge of, and the ability to exercise control over, the substance. A common example of constructive possession is when a substance is located in the center console of the vehicle. Does it belong to the driver or passenger? In some cases, the State could claim that it belongs to both under the constructive possession theory.
Use Your Rights
Here at Casanova Law, we understand that drug possession charges can have a devastating impact on a person’s life – from affecting employment prospects to living with stigma. For this reason, we are meticulous with your drug charges. Our representation of clients in drug possession cases includes:
- Dissecting all of the evidence: Looking for factual, legal and procedural errors. Did law enforcement act properly and follow procedure? Was the substance legally obtained?
- Engaging in firm negotiations with the prosecution: We point out weaknesses in the State’s case (example: failure to properly package, track, label, or test the substance) as well as present mitigating information about our clients (example: lack of criminal record, proof of employment or school enrollment, or involvement in the community).
- Conferencing with the client: We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the case, potential strategies (such as depositions or motions to suppress evidence), and the risks and benefits of accepting a plea offer versus setting the case for trial.
Although a particular result is never guaranteed, choosing the right law firm can make a difference in the outcome of your drug possession case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help reduce charges (“downfile”), minimize sentencing, or even possibly get the case dropped (“no file” or “nolle prosse”).
Depending on the charge, the facts, and the skill of the drug possession attorney, lighter penalties such as community service, drug classes, or probation might be imposed in lieu of jail.
Attorney Lourdes Maria Casanova is a former prosecutor for Palm Beach County with extensive experience in drug possession charges. Contact Casanova Law today to schedule a FREE criminal defense consultation with attorney Casanova.