Florida is one of the states with some of the most rigorous drug laws in America. Because Miami, FL, has access to the waterway, it has a false reputation of being an illegal drug capital of the world. The stringent drug laws are meant to deter any drug-related crime.
If you or someone you know is facing felony drug charges in Miami, Florida, you will need the help of good drug lawyers immediately. A competent and experienced drug defense attorney will review your case, come up with the best defense and help you avoid severe penalties. Note that the penalties and consequences of a drug-related charge and conviction in Florida are very severe, and you will need the best legal representation to fight such charges.
Drug Trafficking and Drug Possession Laws
It is vital to know Florida drug laws and what to expect when facing a drug charge. The state and federal laws categorize controlled substances in schedules. This depends on how dangerous the drug is or if it has a potential for abuse. The various classes or schedules are:
- Schedule I drugs include LSD and heroin. These drugs attract the highest penalties
- Schedule II drugs like opium and morphine
- Schedule III drugs like anabolic steroids
- Schedule IV drugs: for example diazepam
- Schedule V drugs which include specified narcotic drugs
Here is what you need to know about the various charges and the penalties that you can face when found guilty of a drug-related crime in Florida.
1. Drug Possession Penalties
Though all drug charges are serious offenses, a drug possession charge is the least serious drug charge in Florida. If you are caught in possession of any drug exceeding the level that the law constitutes as personal use, you will face possession charges. If convicted, you can face several penalties, including up to five years in state prison.
If you are found in possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana, 28 grams of cocaine, 10 grams of ecstasy, the maximum penalty is five years in prison. Possession of methamphetamine or meth is considered a third-degree felony in Florida. Like any other drug possession charge, it has no mandatory minimum penalty. However, the maximum penalty is five years jail time in state prison. Depending on the amount or weight of drugs in your possession, you can also be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
The penalties and prison time for drug possession will also depend on the type of drug, prior criminal record, and the circumstances surrounding your arrest. A drug possession charge can turn into a drug traffic charge if the substance is more than a specific weight.
2. Drug Trafficking / Sales Penalties
Anyone in possession of an illegal or controlled substance with the aim of selling or delivering it can face drug trafficking charges. This is a very serious felony drug charge Miami. If you are found guilty, you can face a long prison sentence and severe penalties.
The most common drug trafficking charges in Florida involve cannabis and cocaine. If you are found in possession of at least 25 pounds or more of marijuana, you will face a minimum penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Possessing 28 grams or more of cocaine, more than 10 grams of ecstasy, and 14 grams of more of meth are all serious felony charges and attract a minimum of three years jail time and up to a $50,000 fine.
The penalties you face will also depend on the circumstances of your arrest, the type of drug, and the quantity of the drugs. You can face a heavy mandatory minimum prison sentence, additional lengthy prison sentences, and a fine of up to $250,000. If you are facing armed drug trafficking charges, the court will add a ten-year minimum mandatory sentence to the mandatory minimum sentence for the amount or weight of drugs in your possession.
According to Florida drug laws, the police do not have to catch you while selling the drugs to arrest you or charge you with drug trafficking. As long as you are in possession of a specific amount or more of drugs in your home, car, or you have drugs individually packaged, you can be arrested and face drug trafficking charges.
3. Drug Manufacturing
Anyone engaged in activity that involves making illegal narcotics can face a drug manufacturing charge. This includes possessing raw materials, substances, chemicals, or plants found in drugs. This is one of the most severe drug-related charges, and prosecutors pursue such cases aggressively.
The penalties for this charge will vary according to the drug and circumstances. However, the minimum mandatory sentence is a three-year jail time and a considerable fine.
State vs. Federal Drug Charges
Drug charges or cases in Florida become federal when the case involves a substantial amount of drugs, there was a deadly weapon or violence, and if the crime crossed state lines. Federal drug charges and penalties are quite harsh when compared to state-level penalties. Note that the penalties can be harsher if there is serious bodily harm or death involved.
Other factors that affect drug charge penalties include:
- The nature of the offense
- Previous criminal history
- Amount of drugs involved
- If you were arrested while in a restricted area such as an assisted living home, school zone, or daycare facility
- If arrested on or near a public park, swimming pool, or building
- If there is a minor involved
It is crucial that you take any drug charge seriously and work with an experienced attorney to fight the charges or get a minimum sentence.
Work With a Qualified Drug Charges Defense Attorney in Florida
If you or your loved one is facing any drug-related charge, it is vital that you get the right legal help immediately. The West Palm Beach drug possession lawyers at Meltzer & Bell, P.A, have years of experience in handling such charges and will give you the best legal advice and representation that you need.
To get help, get in touch with us or schedule a free case evaluation to know more about the charges you are facing and your legal options.