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florida drug possession penalties

If you are facing drug possession charges in Florida, you should know that Florida drug possession penalties can be steep. Florida has some pretty harsh drug laws in comparison to other states.

If you have been arrested for drug charges, it would be a good idea at this point for you to contact Orlando Defense to help with your defense strategy.

In the meantime, read on to learn more about your charges and Florida drug possession penalties. 

Possession Defined

Florida statutes make it illegal to sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver, certain controlled substances.

Possession in Florida can be actual or constructive. Actual possession means that you have physical contact and control of the drugs, such as in your hand or pocket. Constructive possession is a little broader and more complicated.

Basically it means that you know about the drugs and have control over them somehow, such as locked in the trunk of your car or in your house, but not necessarily on your person. In both cases, prosecutors must show that you had knowledge of the drugs before they can obtain a conviction.

Thus, in cases involving constructive possession, it can be very difficult to obtain a conviction without any incriminating statements. It becomes even more difficult in situations where the drugs are found in a shared space, such as a hotel room or vehicle used or occupied by multiple individuals.

Possession of drug paraphernalia is also unlawful so long as the item was clearly used for consumption or possession of drugs (i.e. it has drug residue or was found with the drugs). 

What Are “Controlled Substances”?

Florida law divides controlled substances, or drugs, into categories based on how dangerous or addictive they are. Schedule I drugs do not have an accepted medical use, unlike the other four categories. They are considered the most dangerous drugs. See below for an explanation of each schedule and examples of drugs included:

  • Schedule I—Highest potential for abuse, highest dependency, and no medical use (e.g. heroin, cannabis, cocaine, LSD);
  • Schedule II—High abuse potential, high dependency (e.g. codeine, morphine, opium);
  • Schedule III—Lower abuse potential, low physical dependency, high psychological dependency (e.g. testosterone, anabolic steroids);
  • Schedule IV—Low abuse potential, limited dependency (e.g. clonazepam or tramadol); and
  • Schedule V—Lowest abuse and dependency potential (e.g. cough suppressants).

The schedule the drug falls into affects the potential penalties you may face.

Florida Drug Possession Penalties

Florida drug possession penalties vary depending on the type of drug, the amount found, and prior criminal history. Penalties are higher for Schedule I or II drugs that have a higher potential for abuse or for an intent to distribute.

A charge of possession with the intent to distribute follows when a search turns up a very large quantity of drugs, or devices commonly used for selling drugs, such as scales or baggies.

Penalties also include a drivers’ license suspension for conviction of any drug offense in Florida. The minimum suspension time is six months or until you get an evaluation for drug addiction. In practice, the license suspension usually is for a year, though you might be eligible for a limited license to get to work after the first six months.

First-Degree Misdemeanors

Possession of under 20 grams of cannabis is a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties include up to a year in county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.

Third-Degree Felonies

Possession of the following amounts of the more commonly found drugs will be a third-degree felony:

  • Cannabis—20 grams or more;
  • Cocaine—less than 28 grams;
  • Heroin—less than four grams;
  • Methamphetamine—less than 14 grams;
  • Oxycodone—less than seven grams without a valid prescription; and
  • Xanax—any amount without a valid prescription.

Penalties for third-degree felonies for drug possession include up to five years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.

Second-Degree Felonies

In most cases, possession with intent to sell, or possession of the chemicals to make GHB, ecstasy, or methamphetamine is a second-degree felony. Penalties for second-degree felonies include up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

First-Degree Felonies

First-degree felonies are for more egregious offenses, such as possession of more than ten grams of certain Schedule I and II drugs, including fentanyl, heroin, or morphine, or sale of certain drugs within 1000 feet of a protected area such as a park, church, or school. Penalties for first-degree felonies include up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 maximum fine. 

Possession of an excessive amount of Schedule I or II drugs is first-degree felony drug trafficking.

The penalties depend on the amount and type of drug—most commonly heroin, fentanyl, cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamine, “date rape” drugs, and oxycodone. Trafficking carries mandatory minimum prison sentences of three to 25 years and fines that can range from $25,000 to $750,000. 

If You Were Charged With Possession, Contact Orlando Defense

Florida drug possession penalties are no joke. You could be facing a lengthy jail or prison sentence, high fines, and drivers’ license suspension.

Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative. The Orlando Defense criminal defense team has a documented track record of success defending drug offenses, as our clients will verify. You deserve the best defense.

Contact us today to set up a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

Author Photo

Jeff Higgins

Jeff began his career as an assistant public defender in Lake County, Florida. Jeff works to make sure that his clients understand the legal process, understand their rights, and fully understand their choices before making any decisions about their case.

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