The difference between possession and possession with intent to distribute differs depending on who determines the charge. If it is determined at the point of the arrest, then the police officer is the one deciding. Ultimately, however, it will be the prosecutor that decides what the charge will be filed as.
In Fort Lauderdale, it is the Broward County State Attorney’s Office or the 17th Judicial Circuit. The prosecutor commonly referred to as case-filing attorneys would review the case that was presented to them that resulted in an arrest by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. They would review the police reports, any evidence submitted, along with any statements that might have been obtained. Through this evidence, the prosecution will decide whether the case should be filed as simple possession or possession with intent to distribute.
Likelihood of Enhancement
A charge may escalate from simple possession to possession with intent. The prosecution might do the same thing, for different reasons, just to give them more leverage in court. Although there are a lot of ancillary issues in drug cases with forfeiture and significant amounts of money and vehicles, there are other issues to consider before escalating charges from simple possession to possession with intent. Everything has to be proven in court, meaning, the Government has the burden of proof. On occasion, some officers will cut people breaks and choose the lesser charge. This is rarely seen in drug cases.
Steps to Take if Charged With PWID
An individual who contacts or hires an attorney immediately following an arrest has an opportunity to have their lawyer contact the state attorney’s office in an attempt to advocate for either not filing a charge or filing a lesser charge. If a police officer arrests an individual in Fort Lauderdale for possession of a controlled substance or an illegal drug with the intent to distribute or sell, the defense attorney has the ability to get a copy of the police report almost immediately.
If it is a weak case or it is ascertained that some evidence was out there that was not on the police report, which could be presented to the prosecutor, the defense team would be able to at least make an argument to the prosecutor, that it is a clear-cut constitutional violation and no charge should be filed, or that the police officers may have misinterpreted or extorted some facts. Usually, in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, charges are filed
Usually, in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, charges are filed around the 21st day following the arrest. That rule is put in place to avoid any speedy trial issues. In felony cases, speedy trial is 175 days. A misdemeanor case is 90 days. They instituted that 21-day internal rule to make sure that charges are filed timely and they do not lose cases to a speedy trial technicality. It is fairly difficult to get a case dismissed or dropped on speedy trial these days. It used to be a lot easier many years ago, but they brought in what is called “recapture periods.” If an individual engages the services of a drug possession attorney early on, they could influence the prosecutor as to whether or not it is a possession case or a possession with intent case.
Importance of a Lawyer
An experienced defense attorney is able to advocate on behalf of a person to try to mitigate charges (e.g., simple possession as opposed to possession with intent). It makes a big difference regarding potential penalties and how the charge would appear on somebody’s record. Contact a lawyer today regarding enhancements of a Ft. Lauderdale drug possession with intent to distribute charge.