Synthetic drugs have become quite popular in Florida in the past few years. Two of the most common are alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone (PVP), and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). PVP goes by the street name “flakka;” MDPV goes by “bath salts.” Both drugs cause excited delirium and exceptional strength without fatigue, giving rise to their popularity. Synthetic drugs like PVP are now the third most frequently identified drugs in South Florida, up by 46 percent since 2013, reports Tampa Bay Times.
Under Florida Statute § 893.03, flakka and bath salts are both Schedule I drugs, the most controlled, addictive, heavily-penalized type of substance. Sale, trafficking, or possession of bath salts and flakka bring hefty penalties. Call Goldman Wetzel in St. Petersburg to discuss how to move forward with your case and which defenses may apply to you: 727-828-3900.
What are the penalties for possession of bath salts and PVP in Florida?
Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(a) provides that actual or constructive possession of controlled substances like PVP or bath salts is a third-degree felony and brings the following penalties:
- Up to five years in prison; and
- A $5,000 fine.
Keep in mind that the above are just the base penalties. With felony convictions, there may be other ramifications, as well, such as revocation of your driver’s license and professional license, sanctions at school, probation, drug counseling, etc.
What are the penalties for sale or intent to sell PVP or bath salts?
The statutes also provide that selling, manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver, a controlled substance like PVP is likewise a third-degree felony, resulting in the aforementioned penalties.
However, if there are aggravating factors, the offense will be higher. For instance, if officers catch you with flakka or bath salts within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, city park, or rec center, the crime will be a second-degree felony which brings the following penalties:
- Up to 15 years in prison; and
- A $10,000 fine
Also, many cases involving bath salts or PVP include additional charges, such as theft, assault, or murder, which can exacerbate penalties dramatically. Our team will be able to tell you exactly what charges and penalties you are facing.
What are the penalties for PVP/bath salts trafficking charges?
The Florida Legislature regularly amends laws to accommodate new drugs that hit the streets. However, the state currently does not recognize PVP trafficking as a separate offense. If officers claim they caught you with a large quantity of PVP, you will likely face charges for selling or for intending to sell.
However, cases involving large quantities of PVP might be tried in federal court; federal statutes provide harsh federal penalties for trafficking PVP. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), trafficking certain Schedule I drugs like PVP brings the following penalties:
- First Offense: Up to 20 years in prison. If the crime involved death or serious bodily injury, you face 20 years to life. If convicted, you also face a fine of $1 million for an individual (or $5 million if not an individual.)
- Second Offense: Up to 30 years in prison. If the crime involved death or serious bodily injury, you face life imprisonment. The fines for second offenses double.
The state of Florida, which banned bath salts in 2012, details the penalties for trafficking in MDPV in Florida Statute § 893.135. If officers find you with 10 grams or more of bath salts, you will face first-degree felony charges. Penalties depend on the amount:
- 10 grams or more-less than 200 grams: mandatory minimum 3 years in prison and a $50,000 fine
- 200 grams or more-less than 400 grams: mandatory minimum 7 years in prison and a $100,000 fine
- 400 grams or more: mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine
What factors can influence sentencing in a PVP/bath salts drug case?
Judges have a degree of discretion when it comes to sentencing. There are various mitigating factors they might consider when deciding the outcome of a case, such as:
- Was this a first-time or repeat offense?
- How much of the substance was involved?
- Did the defendant have it for personal use or with intent to sell?
- How old is the defendant and what is his prior criminal record?
- Did the defendant provide “substantial assistance” to the state?
- Is the defendant eligible for a drug court program?
- Were children, firearms, injuries, or any other aggravating circumstances involved?
What types of defenses can I use in synthetic drug cases?
In order for the court to deem you guilty, the prosecutor must prove that 1) you were in actual or constructive possession of the drug, and 2) you knew it was illegal. So, most defenses center on nullifying one of these presumptions.
For example, if you can prove that the flakka found in your car was someone else’s, then the prosecutor’s case may crumble. Similarly, if you were holding a package that arrived for your roommate from China, the prosecutor will have a hard time proving that you knew it was contraband if you never opened the package.
Mistake of fact is another defense that some defendants have used in PVP and other types of drug cases. This defense suggests that the defendant thought the substance he was buying/using was something other than flakka. This is not far-fetched; there have been several notable cases of people buying what they thought was a package of candy, but what was actually candy laced with PVP. Mistake of fact would be valid in this instance.
Other defendants might be able to use a violation of Constitutional rights as a valid defense against PVP charges. For instance, if officers obtained the evidence against you in an unlawful search and seizure or did not inform you of your Miranda rights, these may be plausible defenses.
We can help you through the criminal court process and develop a defense and strategic plan that works best for your particular circumstances.
Get legal representation to fight your drug charges. Call Goldman Wetzel now.
If you or your loved one is facing charges for possession, sale, or trafficking of PVP, bath salts, or other synthetic drugs, call Goldman Wetzel and speak to a drug crimes defense lawyer straightaway. With over 30 years of combined experience, our team is capable of handling even the most difficult cases.
We will carefully investigate your case, ensure we uphold your rights, and fight for the absolute best outcome for you. Contact us today at 727-828-3900 for a free consultation.