Monday, May 26, 2014

Drug Cases in St. Petersburg, Clearwater & Tampa

Drug offenses can be very unsophisticated, with ample opportunity for a favorable resolution, or very complex, with the potential to utterly ruin a person’s life. Obviously, an individual charged with possessing a small amount of marijuana is not in the same legal posture as a person who has been charged with trafficking in kilogram quantities of cocaine. Following any drug related arrest, having an experienced Tampa Bay area criminal defense attorney on your side, protecting your rights and your freedom, is essential. 

Many drug offenses carry what is referred to as a minimum mandatory sentence. A “min man” is a period of prison time that the court must impose, following a plea of guilty or no contest, or a finding of guilt by a judge or jury, on certain types of drug offenses. To obtain a sentence that is less that the minimum mandatory, an agreement must be reached with the State Attorney and this usually requires an amendment in charge or cooperation with authorities in the prosecution of other involved parties. You should also be aware that drug related offenses carry potential fines that can far exceed most other types of offenses; they can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Florida law classifies controlled substances into five separate schedules. Schedule I controlled substances include heroin, certain morphine derivatives, and cannabis; Schedule II controlled substances include opium, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, cocaine, and methamphetamine; Schedule III controlled substances include many types of anabolic steroids; Schedule IV controlled substances include Alprazolam, Clonazepam, and Loprazolam; Schedule V controlled substances include those containing certain specified quantities of codeine, morphine, and opium (measured in milligrams per 100 grams). This is by no means an exhaustive list; it is meant to provide a very general overview of the types of substances listed under each schedule.

Possession of Controlled Substances

It is unlawful for any person to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance unless such controlled substance was lawfully obtained from a practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription. Any person who violates this provision commits a felony of the third degree. A third degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. 

If the offense is the possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis, that person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in the county jail. 

Sale, Manufacture, or Delivery of Controlled Substances

It is unlawful for any person to sell, manufacture, deliver, or possess with the intent to sell, manufacture or deliver a controlled substance. In most instances, the sale, manufacture, or delivery of a controlled substance is a felony of the second degree. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. The sale, manufacture or delivery (or possession with intent to do the same) of certain statutorily enumerated substances, such as cannabis, constitutes a felony of the third degree. The sale, manufacture or delivery of a Schedule V controlled substance constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree. A first-degree misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in the county jail. 

In Florida, if the Sale, Manufacture, or Delivery occurs within 1000 feet of a childcare facility, elementary or middle school, college, university, church, or assisted living facility, certain enhancements may apply, including minimum mandatory sentences. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide more information on what enhancements, if any, are applicable in your case. 

Trafficking in Controlled Substances

Any person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into the state of Florida, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of certain statutorily prescribed substances, in certain amounts, commits the offense of trafficking. Minimum mandatory sentences in trafficking offenses typically range from 3 to 25 years depending on the substance involved and its weight. Fines typically range from $50,000.00 to $500,000.00.

A conviction for any type of controlled substance in Florida will result in a two-year driver’s license revocation. It does not matter whether the controlled substances were found in or around your vehicle. In some states, a nolo contendre plea will avoid the associated driver’s license suspension, but not in Florida. 

Also, many types of drug offenses carry adverse immigration consequences for non-United States citizens, including deportation. If you are charged with a drug related offense, and you are not a United States citizen, you must consult with an immigration attorney before entering any sort of plea in the criminal case. 

If you have been arrested or charged with a drug offense, there may be certain favorable sentencing options available to you, such as pre-trial diversion or a withholding of adjudication, which would avoid a criminal conviction, a driver’s license suspension and, possibly, some of the adverse immigration consequences that would otherwise apply. Depending on the circumstances, a motion to suppress may also be a viable option. If granted, the state may be precluded from proceeding with prosecution.  In any event, you should consult with an experienced Tampa Bay area criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

For more information, see our article on HG.Org: St. Petersburg Drug Crimes Defense Attorney.


At July 25, 2014 at 7:31 AM , Blogger jimmy peter said...

If you have been charged with a drug offense, you need an experienced lawyer to fight for you. contact Todd Foster Law Group to discuss your options and begin mounting a defense.

At February 1, 2017 at 6:02 AM , Blogger Carl C said...

Thanks for this great post, i find it very interesting and very well thought out and put together. I look forward to reading your work in the future. Tampa Immigration Lawyer


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