Working with a Sarasota Drug Defense Attorney
Florida is known for being “tough” on drug crime. In Florida, the most common drug crimes include; drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, sale of controlled substances and drug trafficking. Drug crime charges range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. A Sarasota drug crime lawyer will work with Florida’s complex drug laws to build an effective drug crime defense.
Drug Possession in Florida
When it comes to the law, “drug possession” isn’t as black and white as many people think it is. In a court, the term “possession” means a number of different things. Under Florida law, you don’t actually have to “own” the drugs to be charged with drug possession.
In order to be charged with a drug possession crime, the prosecutor must be able to prove:
- The seized drugs are illegal (controlled substances) in the state of Florida.
- That you knew or should have known, that the drugs were illegal.
- That you had actual or constructive possession of the drugs
Actual possession is when illegal drugs or paraphernalia are in your physical custody. This could be a jacket pocket or bag that is on your person.
In constructive possession cases, the drugs are not found “on” a person but found near someone who knew where the drugs were and could access them. This is most often seen in cases where drugs are found in a vehicle with multiple occupants who do not claim ownership of the drugs found. Many of the cases also happen at a DUI checkpoint.
Drug possession charges range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Charges are determined by the amount and type of drug as well as your criminal record.
Defenses that a Sarasota drug crime lawyer may use include:
- Making a case that you didn’t have knowledge that the substance was a controlled substance
- Proving that you had a valid prescription from a medical professional
- Showing that your Fourth Amendment rights were violated with an unlawful search and seizure
- Any cannabis found was used in accordance with Florida’s medical marijuana law
If drugs were found after a police dog was used to sniff your car, it is important to have an attorney review the training log of the K-9 to see how reliable that particular dog is in locating contraband. If the dog can be shown to be unreliable, it could lead to a Judge’s determination that the officer lacked probable cause to search your vehicle. Many of the same defenses to drug possession may also be available for possession of paraphernalia.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
The possession of the illegal drugs themselves aren’t the only offense, the possession of drug paraphernalia is also a Florida drug crime. Drug paraphernalia isn’t just the pipes and syringes that commonly come to mind when thinking of the term.
Anything used for cultivating, storing, packaging, concealing, transporting, injecting, smoking, or otherwise introducing the substance into the body is considered paraphernalia. To determine if an item is, in fact, drug paraphernalia they consider the following:
- Were there any illegal drugs present
- Is there any illegal drug residue on the item
- Is there another use for the item? Can the item also be used for a non-drug related activity (spoons, baggies, scales, etc).
This means if you are in possession of scales, plastic baggies, rolling papers, fake safes, etc. you can be charged with a First Degree Misdemeanor, punishable by 11 months and 29 days in the county jail.
Drug Sale Charges
The act of exchanging drugs for money is it’s own charge and can sometimes carry mandatory prison sentences. Drug sale charges usually arise when an officer witnesses the exchange of money for drugs or, as a result of an undercover operation involving the use of informants, audio and video recording devices, and undercover police officers.
These undercover operations are usually set up by law enforcement in such a way as to maximize the potential prison sentence. However, as the police methods of drug interdiction become more sophisticated, more and more legal issues present themselves.
When building a defense against a drug sale charge, a drug crime lawyer will investigate to see if:
- the police tricked the accused into committing the crime,
- the warrants were legal, and
- any for any other improper police conduct.
If you were searched by an officer and they located the drugs on your person. It is important for your Sarasota drug crime lawyer to analyze your encounter with police, to see if your constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures was violated.
Drug Trafficking Charges in Florida
Commonly confused with a drug sale charge, drug trafficking is generally defined as being in possession of a large quantity of illicit drugs.
In these types of cases, precise weight measurements must be taken to ensure that the drugs seized by law enforcement weigh enough to qualify for the drug trafficking statute. The severity of the punishment increases with the quantity of drugs found by police and gets even worse if a firearm is located nearby.
The laws surrounding drug crimes are complex and the details matter. If you were charged with a drug crime, a drug defense attorney will work with you to examine your case and build a defense.
Contact a Sarasota Drug Defense Attorney Today
If you face any charges connected to Florida drug crimes, it’s important to contact a Sarasota drug crime attorney as quickly as possible to preserve evidence and build the best defense.
Florida is known for being “tough” on people convicted of drug crimes, and the consequences of a conviction do not end in the courtroom. A conviction for a drug offense can lead to the suspension of a driver’s license, preclusion from certain careers, and even end eligibility for federal financial aid for higher education.
Fowler Law Group proudly represents the citizens of Sarasota and Manatee Counties as well as the surrounding Tampa Bay area. Our experienced criminal defense team will help guide you through the judicial process and answer all of your questions with honesty and integrity. We understand the important nature of your call, and we will strive to return all calls within 24 hours. Contact us today by completing our online form or calling us at 941-404-8909.
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HAVE YOU RECENTLY FACED LEGAL ISSUES? WE CAN HELP!
Fowler Law Group proudly represents the citizens of Sarasota and Manatee Counties as well as the surrounding Tampa Bay area. Our experienced team will help guide you through the judicial process and answer all of your questions with honesty and integrity. We understand the important nature of your call, and we will strive to return all calls within 24 hours. Contact us today by completing our online form or calling us at 941-404-8909.