We’ll Protect Your Life, Rights and Record While Building a Strong Defense for Possession, Trafficking, Manufacturing/Cultivation or Any Other Related Charges that You’re Facing.
Pinellas County does not take drug charges lightly. Depending on the severity of the offense, a drug charge may lead you to face fines, probation and even prison time. If you’re facing a drug related allegation, your future will be at stake and you may need the help of a drug crime defense lawyer.
The consequences of a drug charge in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County can be very harsh for your personal and professional life. Drug crimes lawyers will protect your rights and may be able to reduce your sentence, or even prevent your conviction.
Types of Drug Crimes in Pinellas County and Florida
A drug crime is the unlawful use of a controlled drug or narcotic. Florida can charge accused offenders with a seemingly endless number of drug-related offenses, and each of these charges comes with its own penalties.
Some of the most common drug charges are:
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Drug trafficking
- Armed drug trafficking
- Cultivating or Manufacturing drugs
- Unlawful possession or sale of prescription drugs
- Illegal use of a drug
Even though the penalties can be quite severe, drug crimes are still the most common crime in Florida. In 2019, there were 110,152 drug arrests, which represented 16.2% of total Florida arrests. 5.2% all Florida drug arrests took place in Pinellas County.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Crimes in Florida?
While the penalty varies based on a number of factors, you could face jail time and significant fines if convicted of even the most minor drug charge. In addition to the penalties listed here, almost anyone convicted of a drug charge in St. Petersburg or Pinellas County receives an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension.
Here are some examples of some of the penalties for a drug charge in Florida:
Drug possession is the offense of possessing an illegal substance such as cocaine, heroine, marijuana or methamphetamine.
|Marijuana||Less than 20 grams||Up to 1 year||1 year||$1,000|
|Cocaine||Less than 28 grams||Up to 5 years||5 years||$5,000|
|Heroin||Less than 4 grams||5 years||5 years||$5,000|
|Meth||Less 14 grams||5 years||5 years||$5,000|
You may receive a conviction on trafficking charges even if you intended to use all the drugs you had for personal use. This is important because trafficking is a first-degree felony with much more serious penalties. Depending on the drug, there may also be mandatory minimum sentences that apply.
|Marijuana||25 to 2,000 pounds||3 years||$25,000|
|Cocaine||28-200 grams||3 years||$50,000|
|Heroin||4 to 14 grams||3 years||$50,000|
|Meth||14 to 28 grams||3 years||$50,000|
If you have more than 25 pounds of marijuana or 28 grams of cocaine at the time of your arrest, the State Attorney may opt for drug trafficking charges instead of possession.
If you’ve been accused of a drug charge, it’s important that you enlist the help of an attorney. Contact our drug crimes lawyers in Pinellas County to know more about your legal options.
What Are Misdemeanor and Felony Drug Charges in Florida?
Depending on the drug and the amount, an offense can be treated as a felony or misdemeanor. A misdemeanor drug charge is less serious and it’s punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. On the other hand, a felony drug charge is more severe and the penalties will depend upon the charge.
It is important to note that the state views some drugs differently than others. The penalties for possession of cocaine, crack, or heroin, for example, are more severe than for possession of marijuana.
Can Drug Charges Be Dropped in Florida?
Facing drug charges can be a terrifying experience. But in some cases, a drug charge can be dropped. However, in order for this to happen, you will need the help of an experienced drug crime lawyer that knows how the criminal system justice works.
Drug charges can be dropped if your defense attorney can prove that the law enforcement officers acted illegally and violated your rights. In other cases, your lawyer may request that the state approve a diversionary program that requires you to attend drug treatment. Once you complete this and other requirements, the District Attorney might agree to drop any potential charges related to the incident.
Although some drug charges may be dropped, the strategy for each case may vary depending on the drug, the amount, the accused’s past criminal record and some other aspects such as aggravating factors. In order to know what the best option is for you or your loved one, you should get in touch with a Pinellas County criminal attorney.
Defenses that a Drug Crime Attorney May Use in Your Defense
The way a drug defense lawyer approaches your defense depends on the specific details of your case. In every case, Goldman Wetzel will immediately launch a full investigation to understand the best possible defense, and represent you in pretrial negotiations and in court.
If your case goes to court, some of the most common defense arguments in St. Petersburg or Pinellas County drug crime cases include:
Unlawful search or seizure
By law, in Florida, law enforcement officers cannot search or seize property without a warrant, your consent or probable cause. If the police find drugs in a unlawful search or seizure, your criminal defense lawyer may file a motion to suppress this evidence.
Lack of possession
When it comes to drug offenses, a common defense that a lawyer may pursue is to argue that the drugs don’t belong to the accused and that or he or she had no knowledge of them. This strategy may work better if the drugs were found in a place where other people have access too. For example, under your car’s passenger seat or an apartment with multiple occupants.
Violation of constitutional rights
When a person is detained in Florida, police officers are required to provide the detainee with certain warnings. These warnings are meant to protect the detainee against self-incrimination and to provide her or him with the right of counsel.
If you’re arrested in St. Petersburg and make a statement before the law enforcement officer informs you of your rights, your attorney may use this as a strategy for your defense.
Another common defense for drug charges is to prove that the drugs that the law enforcement officer found are being used for medical reasons.
In Florida, some controlled substances (such as marijuana) can be used for medical purposes. However, for this strategy to work, the accused must meet some qualification requirements and have a medical prescription.
Depending on the circumstances of your case as well as your past criminal record, your lawyer may try to prove that you didn’t know that the drugs in your possession were illegal or that you needed a medical prescription.
Call our Drug Crimes Lawyers in Pinellas County, FL
If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, it’s important to seek advice from a skilled defense attorney.
Goldman Wetzel represents clients accused of crime offenses in Pinellas County, Florida and the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan area. If you are facing criminal charges for a drug offense in Pinellas County, get in touch with Goldman Wetzel for legal help. Contact us via our contact form or call us at 727-828-3900 for a free consultation.