When a search and seizure leads to your arrest, it can feel like a very overwhelming situation because it is. A drug charge is a serious matter, as it can carry with it hefty fines and lengthy incarceration sentences. As such, it is important for those accused of drug crimes to understand their situation, the applicable laws, potential penalties and the defense opportunities available to them.
Drug possession laws
In Florida, drug crimes are treated seriously, like other states in the nation. As such, those caught in possession of a controlled substance could face serious penalties. These consequences are based on the type and quantity of the substance in question.
The possession of a controlled substance in Florida is often charged as a felony. The most common exception is for the medical use of marijuana. For simple possession, which is a small quantity of a controlled substance, can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.
When an individual is charged with possession, they could face a charge of possession with the intent to sell. This often occurs when the accused is in possession of a large quantity of a controlled substance.
Elements of possession charges
In order to be convicted for drug possession in Florida, three elements need to be proven by the prosecution. First, the substance seized must be a controlled substance as defined by Florida law. Next, the defendant must have had actual knowledge or should have known about the illicit nature of the substance in question and its presence. Finally, the defendant must have had control of the controlled substance as well as its presence.
If the above elements are not met, it is possible to have the charges reduced or dismissed. Additionally, the accused may have other defense options. This could include the lack of knowledge that the material was a controlled substance, they have a valid prescription, entrapment by the police, unlawful search and seizure and the use of marijuana in accordance with Florida’s medical marijuana laws.
Facing a drug charge is a serious situation and should be treated as such. Those accused of a drug crime should take the time to understand the defense options available to them to help ensure their rights are protected.