Florida has taken a tough stand on drugs and has some very harsh penalties for possession. If law enforcement has arrested you or if you are currently facing charges for drug possession, Goldman Wetzel can provide aggressive legal representation on your behalf.
Attorneys Summer Goldman and Maribeth Wetzel take a proactive approach by intervening in cases as soon as possible to challenge the state’s evidence against you or to work with the prosecution to get your charges dismissed or reduced. Schedule a free consultation with our drug possession lawyers in Bradenton today: 941-405-5193.
What Penalties Do I Face for a Drug Possession Charge?
The penalties depend on the charges filed against you and the amount the state alleges you possessed.
Florida Statute § 893.13 determines the penalties for drug possession:
- Marijuana: You could spend up to a year in jail on a first-degree misdemeanor if the state convicts you of possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana. If you possess more than 20 grams but less than 25 pounds, you face a third-degree felony, complete with a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison.
- Heroin: If you possess less than four grams of heroin, the state will charge you with a third-degree felony.
- GHB: Possession of less than one kilogram of GHBis a third-degree felony. If you possess more than one kilogram, the state will charge you with trafficking instead of possession.
Florida also considers certain prescription drugs as controlled substances. So, if you do not have a valid prescription and are convicted of possession of prescription drugs, you could face serious prison time.
What Does the State Need to Prove to Convict Me of Drug Possession?
To prove you possessed a drug, the state has two options:
To establish actual possession, the state must prove you were in physical possession of a drug, meaning the drug was found somewhere on your person, such as your pocket, purse, or hand.
This charge may appear difficult to defend, but the Goldman Wetzel team can question the circumstances and legality of the search. We might ask questions such as:
- Did the police have probable cause — or sufficient reason — to conduct a search?
- What facts did the police have to establish probable cause?
- Was the search conducted with or without a search warrant?
- Were you alone or with other people when police searched you?
We will review the circumstances that lead to the police search and your subsequent arrest to determine whether the search was justified and whether your rights were violated during the process.
Constructive possession is usually harder for the state to prove than actual possession because this charge is often based on circumstantial evidence. With constructive possession, the state must establish that you had knowledge of the drugs, knew of their illegality, and you had control over the place where the drugs were located.
As an example, you may have been a passenger in your friend’s car and the police had a reasonable suspicion to stop your friend and search the car. During the search, the police found illegal drugs underneath your seat. You told the officers you did not know that drugs were there, but they arrested you anyway.
In this scenario, the state would have to show that you knew about the drugs, you knew they were illegal, and had control over the drugs. However, officers finding the drugs within your reach does not prove constructive possession.
Our attorneys would point out the weaknesses in this case and seek dismissal of the drug possession charge if the state cannot prove the elements of constructive possession beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on the circumstances, we might use case law to further our point.
Williams v. State Appellate Court Decision
A case from Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals shows difficulties the state has in prosecuting constructive possession charges. In Williams v. State, law enforcement arrested Williams after police found two cocaine rocks between the seat cushion and armrest and another under the chair that he was sitting in outside of a pool hall.
The court ruled the state could not prove the defendant had constructive possession. In addition, the chair was in a public place and easily accessible to the “six to 10 men tightly packed around the chair.” The evidence the state presented only proved that the defendant was near the cocaine.
How Can I Defend Myself Against A Drug Possession Charge?
Our Bradenton drug possession team can discuss the defense options available to you. If you get us involved early enough, we might be able to persuade the state to forgo filing formal charges, file a lesser charge, or negotiate a plea deal.
Should the prosecution move forward with a trial, Summer and Maribeth will work together to craft a defense strategy and build a solid case to present to a judge or jury. Summer has invaluable experience from working as a prosecutor and Maribeth has dedicated her career to defense. These backgrounds allow us to approach each case from all angles and determine the best defense for your specific case.
Prior to trial, we will help you prepare for trial by explaining the process and what to expect. We may gather evidence for trial such as:
- Your testimony about the events to counter the prosecution’s allegations against you
- Documents that support your defense
- Eyewitnesses or expert testimony
- Our investigation of police conduct during your search andarrest
Let Goldman Wetzel Defend You Against Your Drug Possession Charge
If you want a legal team that will fight for you from start to finish, then call Goldman Wetzel today 941-405-5193 to schedule a complimentary consultation and case review. Contacting our law office now means we can start evaluating your case and planning a solid defense strategy earlier.
Conviction of a drug possession charge in Florida could mean imprisonment and paying thousands of dollars in fines. Rather than risk losing your freedom and your way of life, rely on Goldman Wetzel to provide a strong defense on your behalf.