In Florida, drug offenses are thought to be directly correlated to the crime rate and as such, those convicted can face severe penalties. When individuals have been arrested or charged with a drug-related offense, it is important they speak to a Ft. Lauderdale drug lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney may be able to get charges lowered or dismissed.
Common Drug Crimes in Florida
The two most common drug crimes in Broward County are drug possession and drug trafficking. Of these two, drug possession is the most common and also carries the least severe penalties of all drug crimes.
- In order to prove an individual had possession of a drug, the prosecution must be able to prove either:
- Physical possession. This is when the drug was found directly on the person, such as in their pocket, or
- Constructive possession. This is more difficult to prove as the prosecution must be able to show that the accused individual was located near the drug, and that they should have been aware of its’ presence. An example of constructive possession would be if an arresting officer found drugs in a car full of people located in an area readily accessible (floor board, seat or center console). While the police may charge one or several the occupants with constructive possession, it is more difficult to prove as compared to a case involving actual possession.
- Drug trafficking is a much more serious offense. In Florida, the sale, manufacturing, delivery, or purchase of large amounts of illegal substances could be considered drug trafficking.
Possessing 25 pounds or more of marijuana, for example, is considered drug trafficking, as is over 28 grams of cocaine and over 4 grams of opiates. The offenses also depend on the particular drug and their schedule.
Individuals may also be charged with drug trafficking if they are found with equipment used to manufacture illegal substances, or if they are caught with ingredients that could create an illegal substance.
In some cases, a drug lawyer in Ft. Lauderdale may be able to get the amount being carried reduced to bring a trafficking charge down to a possession charge.
Possible Drug Crimes Defenses
In addition to getting charges lowered and reduced, a Ft. Lauderdale drug attorney will also utilize a number of possible defenses. These could include:
- Unlawful search and seizure. There are times when police and law enforcement officials have the right to search an individual’s car, person, home, or other personal property. And they often do so when looking for evidence of drugs that would allow them to press charges. However, there are certain requirements necessary for lawful search and seizures and when those have not been met an individual’s charges could be dropped.
- A motion to suppress. If an individual’s constitutional rights were violated at any time during the arrest or subsequent holding in custody, an attorney can file a motion to suppress. This may prevent the prosecution from being able to present their evidence, which could end up in charges being dropped. Unlawful searches and seizures are one type of rights violation, as is not being read a person’s Miranda rights.
- Lack of evidence. When the prosecution simply does not have enough sufficient evidence to prosecute, drug charges might be dropped. An attorney can chip away at that evidence and find problems with it so that some or all of it gets thrown out of court.
Can Drug Offenses Be Expunged in Ft Lauderdale?
When charged with a drug offense, it is rational to worry about the impact a drug charge would have on one’s life. In the State of Florida, even a charge without a conviction could still appear on a person’s criminal record, potentially impacting their ability to maintain employment or obtain housing. Fortunately, if a conviction was not reached, the defendant may be able to have the charge expunged from their criminal record. However, if the defendant was handed a guilty verdict, or they made a deal with the Prosecution in which they would have to plea guilty, they may not be able to have the offense expunged no matter if the offense is a Misdemeanor or a Felony.
Talk to a Ft. Lauderdale Drug Attorney Today
Being charged with a drug crime in Florida is a very serious offense and, in some instances, can even be considered felonies. There are defenses available so if you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced Ft. Lauderdale drug lawyer that can review your case with you.