Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) is a central nervous system depressant and Schedule I drug. Originally developed as an anesthetic (but discontinued due to unwanted side effects), GHB’s only current legal use is as an investigational treatment for narcolepsy. Because of its Schedule I classification and popular use as a steroid alternative, intoxicant, or “date rape drug,” the penalties for trafficking or possession of GHB are severe.
If you are facing GHB charges in St. Petersburg, call the defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel for a free consultation today.
GHB Rules & Regulations in Florida
GHB, also known as “liquid X,” “Oop,” “Grievous Bodily Harm,” or “Georgia Home Boy,” has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.
As such, it is illegal to possess, sell, manufacture, or distribute GHB. The individual criminal charges, penalties, and fines range very broadly depending on how much of the drug law enforcement catches you with and whether you intended to sell GHB. Even the most lenient GHB punishments are very serious in Florida.
What are the penalties for possession of GHB?
Per Florida Statute § 893.13, the mere possession of GHB is a third-degree felony in Florida. Possession of GHB is punishable by up to:
- Five years’ imprisonment
- Five years of probation
- A fine up to $5,000
Additionally, you can lose your Florida driver’s license for one year under Florida Statute § 322.055.
If law enforcement catches you with one kilogram or more of GHB, the state will charge you with the more serious crime of trafficking rather than just possession.
It is important to note that officers will weigh the entire mixture, not just the pure GHB. Therefore, you could be carrying a mixture with less than one kilogram of GHB, but the total weight of the mixture could be enough to sustain a trafficking conviction with serious penalties.
What are the penalties for manufacturing or selling GHB?
If officers catch you selling, manufacturing, or distributing GHB, the state will charge you with a more serious crime than possession. Even if officers do not catch you actually selling it, if they catch you with a large enough amount of GHB or items that indicate you plan to sell (such as small baggies or containers, scales, and large amounts of cash), the judge may find that you intended to sell GHB.
Under Florida Statute 893.13(1)(a)(1), it is illegal to sell, manufacture, deliver, or possess with intent to sell GHB. This charge is a second-degree felony punishable by up to:
- 15 years in prison
- 15 years of probation
- A fine of $10,000
You will also face a one-year license suspension.
What are the penalties for trafficking GHB?
The most serious Florida GHB offense is trafficking. This criminal charge occurs when you are caught possessing, selling, purchasing, manufacturing, distributing, or transporting one kilogram or more of any mixture containing GHB.
GHB trafficking is a first-degree felony in the State of Florida and convictions come with mandatory minimum prison sentences. Penalties vary depending on the amount of GHB you are caught with.
|Amount of GHB||Fine||Minimum Prison Sentence||Maximum Prison Sentence|
|At least 1 but less than 5 kilograms||$50,000||3 years||30 years*|
|At least 5 but less than 10 kilograms||$100,000||7 years||30 years*|
|10+ kilograms||$250,000||15 years||30 years*|
*The maximum imprisonment is 30 years unless the drug causes the death of an individual. If this occurs, the charge is a capital felony which can include life imprisonment.
Again, the weight of the total mixture, not only the weight of the pure GHB, is what matters to the court. Even if the mixture officers catch you with has a low amount of GHB, the state will charge you according to the total weight of the mixture.
What are potential defenses to GHB charges?
In addition to the basic pretrial and trial defenses for any criminal case, if you are facing charges for possession, sale or distribution, or trafficking of GHB, there are several defenses available. These include:
Illegal Search & Seizure: The law places certain limitations on law enforcement agents regarding the amount of force or coercion they can use when requiring people to submit to drug searches. If an officer used too much coercion or did not have probable cause to arrest you in the first place you may be able to suppress evidence.
Constructive Possession: In certain situations, a person can have GHB on his person but may not have been aware of its presence. This can happen when a friend or even a stranger places drugs in your pocket or in your car, for example. If you did not know about the GHB and had no control over the substance’s location, then you may not be guilty of possession.
Personal Use: If the state charges you with the more serious offense of sale or distribution, you may be able to lessen your punishment by claiming the GHB was for personal use only.
Overdose Defense: If the state bases your charges entirely on evidence obtained when you visited a hospital for medical assistance after a GHB overdose, you are immune from prosecution for possession. This defense is in place to prevent people from avoiding medical help out of fear of being arrested.
Valid Prescription: Though it is rare, some people actually have prescriptions for GHB, such as those suffering from narcolepsy. If you had a prescription for GHB prior to your arrest you will not be criminally liable.
Which defenses apply depend on the unique circumstances of your case. If you are facing GHB charges in Florida, do not delay; get legal help now.
The drug charge defense attorneys at Goldman Wetzel can help.
Contact us today to start building your defense: 727-828-3900.