Drug possession is typically viewed as important, if not more important, than some other cases or crimes in the eyes of law enforcement. They are very active with respect to investigation and enforcement of drug-related cases. With any drug accusation, it may be vital to contact an Ft. Lauderdale drug possession lawyer who is familiar with the application of local laws on these cases.
The severity really depends on the type of drug, the amount, somebody’s criminal history, whether or not it is a simple possession case, a distribution case, a delivery case, possession with intent, trafficking, or conspiracy. It is important to consult with an experienced drug attorney who can help you deal with a multitude of factors that come into play with respect to the severity of your charge. En Español.
Meaning of Possession
There are two different forms of legal possession. One is called actual possession, meaning somebody is holding the drug or has it in their pocket or on their person. There is the second type called constructive possession, meaning that although the individual does not actually have it on their person, it could be within ready reach and control.
Somebody could possess a drug by constructively possessing it, and more than one person can constructively possess the same drug. That is usually not true with actual possession. When one or more people face drug possession charges, an Ft. Lauderdale lawyer can help mitigate those charges.
Common Substance Possession Cases
The most common drug possession findings are the results of traffic stops where police officers ask the individual if they are in possession of any unlawful substances, items, or drugs. Another common way is if the police officers perform a probable cause search without the driver’s permission.
Other examples outside of traffic stops would be a police officer observing a drug transaction taking place as a result of surveillance; they could discover cultivation centers or grow houses, or they could receive an anonymous tip or utilize confidential informants. In a lot of drug cases, a police officer will go to court and get search warrants based on information that was provided to them.
Our Ft. Lauderdale lawyers have seen many ways that a drug possession case could begin. If local suspicions were truthful, and the police officers obtained a search warrant, somebody can face a drug possession charge. It depends on where the drugs are found, who was there, and who the home or residence belongs to.
Implications of Decriminalization on Drug Possession Law
Decriminalization often refers to cannabis or marijuana and under the federal laws in the federal system, there have been no changes; the United States government still makes it unlawful to possess cannabis or marijuana. In South Florida, the Broward County Commission has voted to give the municipalities within the county to decriminalize misdemeanor possession of under 20 grams of marijuana. This gives the local law enforcement officers the ability to issue a civil citation if somebody is found to be in possession of a misdemeanor amount of cannabis. Our skilled attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale could help someone who has been accused drug possession with marijuana.
Although the municipalities have the right to treat misdemeanor possession in a marijuana case as a civil case, that has not happened yet. As it relates to medical marijuana, Amendment Two was passed in the State of Florida which makes full strength marijuana legal for what is defined as debilitating medical condition and the Amendment included examples of the debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, Multiple sclerosis or any other debilitating medical condition for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risk for a patient. The legislature and local municipalities are still working through how to spend medically-allowed marijuana.
Right to Search in Ft. Lauderdale
Florida has what is called search incident to a lawful arrest. This means that if somebody gets arrested for a non-drug-related offense, by law, the police officers can search the individual. For example, somebody gets pulled over and arrested for DUI. As a result of the arrest, the police officer has the right to search that individual as a result of the arrest. If they find any illegal drugs in their pocket, they could be charged with possession as well.
Florida also has what is called inventory searches. Using the same scenario of the DUI, if the vehicle is towed to an impound lot, an inventory of the vehicle is performed. If there are drugs found within the car (depending on where they are found and who the car was registered to), it is possible that somebody could face a drug possession charge that way.
Local Drug Interest
Basically, anything found delineated on Schedules I through V which are used by the State of Florida are considered illegal to possess. The Schedules have different degrees of severity and different levels of punishment. Prescription pain medication or opioids have been a particular focus or interest of police officers as a result of a lot of pill mills or Pain Management Centers. Florida has done a pretty good job of regulating and bringing cases against those facilities and the doctors who run them.
As a result of Florida’s success in shutting those pill mills down, there has been a rise in heroin abuse, and there are some synthetic drugs that are being used to replace the opioids which have particular significance in Ft. Lauderdale.
Consulting a Ft. Lauderdale Drug Possession Attorney
There are many factors in substance cases that may impact the severity of a charge such as the nature of the case, what was happening at the time, the amount of the drug possessed and any intent to sell or distribute. A Fort Lauderdale drug possession lawyer has seen the difference in cases based on the amount in of drugs the individual is found with. The larger the amount, the more likely it is local law enforcement will assume the intent to sell. The amounts dictate the level of seriousness, as well as the type of drug and where it falls on the Drug Schedule. These factors all impact the seriousness of these charges. A capable attorney could use their knowledge of possession law to pursue the best possible outcome for an individual.