Florida’s drug crime laws are some of the toughest in the nation. Take, for example, the national trend on relaxing marijuana laws. Florida still has no decriminalization statute, nor is it allowed to be used for medical purposes. Even being convicted for a minor drug offense can alter your life for years. That’s why it’s important to consult a drug possession lawyer in St. Petersburg at Goldman Wetzel if accused. Early legal intervention is key in any criminal situation.
Drug Classification Schedule
All “controlled substances” and certain amounts of marijuana found in one’s possession could lead to misdemeanor or felony drug charges. For the level of the offense to fit the punishment, Florida classifies all drugs as controlled substances, as well as the chemicals and mixing agents used to manufacture or cultivate them. Known as controlled dangerous substances (CDS) these substances are arranged into five “schedules” [Fla. Stat. § 893.03], which are based on each drug’s potential for abuse and the “redeeming” medical value – if any – they offer:
- Schedule I – Heroin, Ecstasy, GHB, Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), Marijuana, LSD and other hallucinogens
- Schedule II – Cocaine, Opium, Methamphetamine, Morphine, PCP
- Schedule III – Anabolic steroids, Empirin, Codeine and Hydrocodone (and its derivatives), Ketamine, high-level barbiturates and other depressants
- Schedule IV – Reserved mostly for prescription drugs such as Darvon, Talwin, Equanil, Valium, Rohypnol (“roofies”), Xanax and a variety of other stimulants and tranquilizers
- Schedule V – Primarily codeine-based cough suppressants or other prescriptions drugs with low levels of Codeine.
Penalties for Drug Possession in Florida
If charged with possession with intent to distribute, manufacture or cultivate drugs, the penalties are much more severe and in some instances, could be prosecuted in federal court. But if charged with simple possession of a CDS in a Florida court, it can be either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the type and amount of the drugs. Misdemeanor possession is less serious than felony possession, receives shorter incarceration periods and smaller fines.
For example, if you are charged with possession of more than 10 grams of heroin (a Schedule I) the penalty upon conviction for this first-degree felony can be up to 30 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine: [Fla. Stat § 775.082 – 84]. If it’s a first conviction, however, the penalty is rarely that severe.
But on the other hand, if charged with possession of no more than 20 grams of marijuana (also a Schedule I) it is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. Penalties can include up to a year in county jail (or a year’s probation if it’s a first offense) and as much as a $1,000 fine: [Fla. Stat. § 775.082 – 83]. Additional penalties include loss of your drivers’ license for a year, and if granted probation, mandatory drug testing.
In recent years, Florida has seen an increase in illegal possession of prescription drugs. If you are caught with them and can’t produce a prescription or show a forged prescription, then many of the same penalties listed above could await you.
But being charged with a drug offense does not guarantee guilt. There are viable and effective defenses. Having Goldman Wetzel’s drug possession lawyers on your side to protect your rights and freedom can possibly minimize the negative effects of these charges on your life. To begin your building your defense, call us at 727-828-3900 to request a free consultation or fill out an online contact form.