When you are charged with a drug offense, it can be a scary time for you. Florida has some of the most stringent drug penalties in the country. You will want to consult an experienced Tampa Bay criminal defense lawyer to handle your case. Without the right legal help, you could face years in prison, pay hefty fines, and have a permanent criminal record.
Drug crimes vary from possession to trafficking. In Florida, there are several categories of drug offenses, such as:
Along with that, there are enhanced penalties for several types of drug crimes. Florida is known to prosecute these crimes aggressively. In most cases, the state attorneys will work to seek the strictest penalties from the court.
While you might think that drug crimes only apply to illegal drugs, common prescriptions can lead to charges. Any unauthorized possession of medical marijuana, chemical substances, and prescription drugs is considered illegal. Depending on the type of drugs involved in the crime, the offender may face numerous charges.
According to Florida Statutes Section 893.13, “an individual may not sell, manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver a controlled substance.” In some cases, the defendant can face enhanced penalties in the form of second- and third-degree charges.
Like the federal government, Florida also classifies certain drugs into a specific category. Schedule I and II drug convictions will suffer the most severe penalties, while those found with Schedule V drugs might only have to pay a fine or perform community service.
These classifications include:
While many states in the country have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, this drug still remains illegal in Florida, except for medical purposes. Even with the medical designation, Florida residents face several restrictions, including the possession amount and who can legally obtain it. Marijuana is considered a Class I drug under Federal drug laws.
In Florida, any marijuana possession of 20 grams or less with paraphernalia is a misdemeanor. You can face one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Any possession case with more than 20 grams is a felony. The penalties will increase with additional amounts, up to 15 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
An illegal prescription drug can lead to a criminal charge. Prescription drugs must only be prescribed by a qualified professional. These drugs can only be used and possessed by those who have a legitimate prescription. If an individual is caught with these drugs without a prescription, that can lead to criminal charges. Along with that, selling prescription drugs or forging a prescription is another serious drug crime in the state.
One of the most common drug crimes in the state is drug possession. Anyone in possession of cocaine or heroin faces the severest penalties with a third-degree felony. There are two types of possessions in Florida:
If you face a drug possession charge in Tampa Bay, you need to speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney like Robert Zlatkin. He can examine the facts and help draft a defense for your case.
Along with other drug crimes in the state, Florida will aggressively pursue charges against those who attempt to sell drugs. According to Florida law, an individual may not “possess any drugs that are harmful, toxic, potentially habit-forming, or brand new.” Licensed practitioners and those lawfully required to distribute drugs are exempt in the state. However, if a defendant violates this statute, it is a second-degree misdemeanor.
Another common drug crime in Florida is drug trafficking. Under Florida law, drug trafficking is the “cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and sale” of a controlled substance. Penalties for this offense include a $25,000 fine and three years in prison. The sentences will increase depending on the quantity of the drugs. For those who have crossed a state line, trafficking can be charged under federal laws.
Some offenses, like the possession of a firearm, can elevate the drug charges. Like most crimes, if you are a repeat offender, you could receive harsher sentences. In many cases, the convicted is prohibited from attending any diversion programs.
Selling and possessing certain drugs often result in a second-degree misdemeanor. Even with that, you might be sentenced to prison time and a hefty fine. However, those found with Schedule I or II substances are often prosecuted as third-degree felonies.
When you are convicted of a drug crime, it can affect the custody of your children, employment options, and housing opportunities. Whether you have sold or possessed the drugs, you might face a prison sentence and pay a hefty fine, along with adding a felony or misdemeanor to your record.
Robert Zlatkin has the experience to defend individuals facing serious drug charges. He understands the complicated criminal legal process in the state.
When you are charged with a drug offense, you could lose your livelihood and freedom. In addition to that, that criminal record will haunt you for the rest of your life. If you have been charged with a drug crime in Florida, contact Robert Zlatkin. Schedule a consultation for your case by contacting the Tampa Bay office.