Florida has some of the harshest drug laws in the nation. A drug possession conviction can result in serious penalties, but the possibility of pretrial diversion or intervention, drug court, or probation can help mitigate the long-term consequences. En Español.
If you have been charged with drug possession in West Palm Beach or its surrounding areas, you need an experienced drug attorney who will aggressively pursue the best possible result in your case. West Palm Beach drug possession lawyers have successfully represented individuals facing misdemeanor and felony drug possession charges and are committed to presenting a personalized defense for all potential clients.
Drug Possession Laws in Florida
Florida law criminalizes the possession of controlled substances. Simple possession is an offense in which someone held a small quantity of drugs for personal use and did not intend to sell or distribute the controlled substance. Controlled substances are defined in Section 893.03 of the Florida Statutes and encompass a litany of narcotics and pharmaceutical drugs.
Florida law recognizes two types of possession–actual or constructive. Actual possession means the person has physical custody of the controlled substance. Actual possession is more straightforward for prosecutors because it generally involves the police finding contraband on the accused’s person. Being charged with either offense should be taken seriously and with the help of a West Palm Beach drug possession attorney, individuals can be prepared for presenting their defense in court.
Constructive possession means that the person had knowledge of the presence of the drugs and the ability to exercise dominion or control over it.
To convict someone of simple possession under Section 893.13, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The accused knew of the presence of the substance
- The seized material is considered a controlled substance under Florida law
- The accused exercised control or ownership over the substance
Possession with Intent
“Possession with intent” is a separate and more serious offense, which includes all the elements listed above and the requirement that the accused had possession of a controlled substance intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver.
Penalties for Conviction of Holding
Drug possession charges range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony offense depending on the specific substance involved, the quantity of the substance, and the criminal history of the accused. Penalties for drug possession charges include, but are not limited to:
- First-degree misdemeanor: Possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. Up to one year in jail and/or fine of $1,000
- Third-degree felony: Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana but less than 25 pounds. Possession of less than 28 grams of cocaine and 10 grams of MDMA. Up to five years in prison and/or $5,000 in fines
- First-degree felony: Possession of more than 25 pounds of marijuana, 28 grams of cocaine, or 10 grams of MDMA. Up to 30 years in prison. Certain mandatory minimum sentences may apply if the person is found in possession of trafficking amounts of a controlled substance
The defenses to drug possession charges most often include Fourth Amendment violations (illegal search and seizure), lack of knowledge of illicit nature of controlled substance, and/or that the substance was legally obtained with a valid prescription. Possible defenses to drug possession charges will vary according to the specific facts of a case.
A drug possession charge does not guarantee a conviction. Contacting West Palm Beach drug possession lawyers can make a difference in your case.