The severity of Fort Lauderdale drug possession penalties for illegal substances depends on how the drug was found and how it was being used. Law enforcement will consider whether the drug was for personal, recreational use or whether it was being sold, delivered, cultivated, or grown. The type and amount of the drug will also hold value in the state’s case. Any criminal offense, by its own nature, is severe.
Experienced drug possession lawyers have seen that having drug paraphernalia or a misdemeanor possession of marijuana (which would be under 20 grams of marijuana or cannabis) would be the least severe. Some of the most severe penalties would be any type of drug trafficking case involving large amounts of drugs.
Long Term Consequences
Any criminal conviction could have a negative impact on a person’s life. It is a public record and it will come up on a background check. The background check is always a part of an individual’s personal criminal history. There is a big difference between a misdemeanor and a felony. Most employers will not consider somebody for employment with a felony conviction on their record. The good news is that for certain types of drug offenses in Fort Lauderdale, there is what is called a “withholding of adjudication,” which means withholding the conviction. In drug possession cases, that is an option.
Once a conviction is in play, under Florida law, a conviction can never be sealed, but some withholding of adjudications can. The common rule is that “once convicted, always convicted.” If a person obtains a withholding of adjudication, he could say that he was not convicted and possibly, depending upon the type of offense he is charged with, get the record sealed depending upon the nature of the offense, what other items are on the individual’s record, and whether or not he has attempted to seal or expunge any other prior case.
Short Term Penalties
Most Fort Lauderdale drug possession penalties include a suspension of the individual’s driver’s license for 12 to 24 months by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. There are opportunities for the individual to get a hardship license during that period of time, but that is one of the ramifications of a drug-related conviction in Fort Lauderdale. A felony conviction can become an employment issue as well as an issue for government security clearances, any type of federal assistance and housing. A conviction for this offense means loss of an individual’s civil rights such as the right to own or possess a firearm and right to vote.
Availability of Diversion or Alternative Sentencing Programs
There are different Diversion Programs available to an individual depending on whether the offense is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. In the misdemeanor realm, there is a program called the Misdemeanor Diversion Program, formerly referred to as Pretrial Intervention (PTI). PTI is now the felony equivalent of the First Offender Diversion Program.
There are Alternative Sentencing Programs depending on how many points an individual has on their Sentencing Guideline Score Sheet. If it is under 60 points, there are sentencing alternatives. If an individual finishes their case in Drug Court, their charges can be dismissed. The individual also has the potential to attend Drug Court, which is a more therapeutic approach that includes more counseling, testing, and intervention.
Misdemeanor and Felony Drug Court are available in cases that involve either offense. However, these options are meant for repeat offenders. Those programs are offered to individuals’ at the discretion of the prosecutor also known as the Broward County State Attorney’s Office in Fort Lauderdale.
Local Drug Possession Law
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department is actively enforcing Anti-Drug Possession Law. If a person finds themselves in a position of facing Fort Lauderdale drug possession penalties they should try not to answer law enforcement’s questions with respect to any accusations or allegations. Individuals have a Fifth Amendment privilege meaning they have the right to remain silent. The burden of proof is on the government and on the police.
Any individual should not place themselves in a position to answer questions to help the Fort Lauderdale Police Department or any law enforcement agency in Fort Lauderdale, to then turn around and use somebody’s answers or words against them in their case. An individual who is facing a drug-related charge should either engage the services of a criminal defense attorney who has knowledge and experience with respect to drug possession law in Fort Lauderdale, or at least reach out for a free consultation and make contact.
In a scenario where somebody feels that they are a target or the subject of an investigation, or has been contacted by a police officer, he should talk to an attorney before doing or saying anything.