Under § 499.03(1), Fla. Stat. (2022), you can be charged with possession of drugs or possession with the intent to sell drugs that are new to the market, addictive, toxic, or harmful unless you meet one of the following exceptions:
A violation of this section for possession of drugs is a second-degree misdemeanor.
If you are charged with possessing drugs under this statute with the intent to sell, deliver, or manufacture, you can face severe penalties based on the drug’s schedule. Under § 817.563, Fla. Stat. (2022), if you possess drugs with the intent to sell, you can face the following charges based on the schedules found in § 893.03, Fla. Stat. (2022):
Under § 893.13(1)(a), Fla. Stat. 2022, it is unlawful to manufacture, sell, possess with the intent to sell, or deliver controlled substances. If you are charged under this section, the type of drug will control the level of charge. YOu can face either a second or third-degree felony. For example, if you possess marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver it, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. If you instead possess cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver it, you could be charged with a second-degree felony.
You might be charged with possession with intent to sell even if no sales occurred. The prosecutors can use the following types of evidence to try to prove your intent to sell:
You can be charged with drug crimes in Florida even if the substances you possessed were counterfeit drugs. Under § 831.31(1), Fla. Stat. (2022), it is illegal to possess with the intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver counterfeit drugs. If you are charged with one of these offenses involving a counterfeit drug in schedules 1 to 4, you can be charged with a third-degree felony. If the substance you possessed was a counterfeit schedule 5 drug, you can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
A counterfeit or imitation controlled drug is defined in § 817.564(1), Fla. Stat. (2022) as a capsule, pill, tablet, or another substance that isn’t a controlled substance but appears to be a scheduled drug with a high potential for abuse. This offense is a third-degree felony.
Drug trafficking and conspiracy charges can be filed in Florida state courts. These offenses involve manufacturing, cultivating, distributing, and selling drugs. Drug trafficking offenses come with minimum sentences ranging from three to 25 years in prison and fines from $25,000 to $500,000. The specific sentence you might face will depend on the type and amount of the drug at issue as follows:
Conspiracy to traffic drugs for a gang or criminal organization comes with more severe penalties.
Simple possession of certain drugs can still result in felony charges in Florida. For example, cocaine or heroin possession can result in third-degree felony charges carrying five years in prison and stiff fines. You can be charged with drug possession if you are found to possess drugs on your person, which is actual possession. You can also be charged with drug possession if you constructively possessed a drug by having a drug discovered in a location that you own or that was within your proximity.
Cocaine possession is a third-degree felony carrying a potential sentence of five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, probation, and a suspension of your driving privileges for two years.
Possession with intent to sell methamphetamine is a second-degree felony carrying up to 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and up to 15 years on probation.
Under § 499.03, Fla. Stat. (2022), you can face a second-degree misdemeanor charge if you possess any drugs that are potentially addictive, new to the market, toxic, or harmful. This carries up to 60 days in jail and a fine of $500.
If you possess a counterfeit drug or a controlled drug with the intent to sell, your penalties will depend on the drug’s schedule. For schedules 1, 2, 3, or 4, you will face a third-degree felony carrying up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. If the drug or counterfeit substance is a schedule 5 drug, you will be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor carrying up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Federal drug charges are more severe than state charges. The federal government also has a drug scheduling system as follows:
You can be charged with federal drug charges if you cross state lines with controlled substances. If you are found to have crossed state lines with controlled drugs, you could face drug trafficking charges in federal court. Your penalties will depend on the type and amount of drugs. The most serious drug trafficking charge can carry from five to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine. If someone dies or is injured as a result of drug trafficking, the federal penalty is up to life in prison.
You can also face federal drug charges if you possess drugs on national lands, including national parks, wildlife refuges, or land in the public domain.
When a federal agency investigates a drug crime, the offense will be charged federally. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the agency that enforces federal drug laws and primarily focuses on those who manufacture, cultivate, or distribute drugs.
Many federal drug crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences, which means that you must be sentenced to serve at least the minimum sentence if you are convicted. A judge can only depart below the mandatory minimum sentence if they are specifically requested by the prosecutor to do so. Many of the offenses carry mandatory minimums of five or 10 years. However, if you have a prior drug conviction, or the offense resulted in death or injury, the mandatory minimum will be 20 years.
If you are facing state or federal drug crime charges in Florida, you should retain an experienced Port Saint Lucie drug defense lawyer at the law firm of Jeffrey H. Garland, P.A. Attorney Jeffrey Garland, Esq. has more than four decades of experience defending people against serious crimes, including both state and federal drug crimes. Call us today to request a consultation at (772) 489-2200.
Jeffrey Garland, Esq. Awards & Ratings