In Florida, as in the rest of the country, selling drugs is a crime. Depending on the type of substance involved, the offense can be charged as a third-, second-, or first-degree felony, each carrying severe conviction penalties, including incarceration.
What if drugs were being sold out of your home, but you weren't the one doing the actual selling? Can you be charged for that? And can you go to jail for such conduct if it is a crime?
The answer to those questions is "yes." Yes, you can be criminally charged if someone used your home for a drug-selling operation. And, yes, you can be incarcerated for this type of conduct, but it won't be jail the court may send you to; it will be prison.
Possessing a Place for Drug-Related Offenses
Florida has a law that makes it a crime for a person to be in actual or constructive possession of a place that's used for drug-related offenses. Actual or constructive possession means that the individual can exercise personal control over the place, whether they were physically at the location or elsewhere. The law applies to not only selling drugs from a place, but also to trafficking in or manufacturing drugs.
For you to be convicted under the statute, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly had possession of the place and knew that it was being used for selling a drug or drugs. Thus, if you owned the home but were unaware that someone was selling cocaine from it, you likely would not be found guilty of the offense. But if you allowed the sales to occur, you may be harshly penalized.
Penalties for Possessing a Place Used for Drug Sales
As we clarified earlier, upon a conviction, you won't be sent to jail for knowingly allowing someone to sell drugs from your home; you'll be ordered to prison time. That's because this offense is always a felony, though it varies in degree.
The specific amount of time you could be incarcerated depends on the nature of the offense:
- If you owned, leased, or rented a place used to sell drugs, you may be convicted of a third-degree felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
- If you were in actual or constructive possession of a place used to sell drugs, you may be convicted of a second-degree felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to 15 years.
- If you were in actual or constructive possession of a place used to sell drugs and children were present, you may be convicted of a first-degree felony, which is penalized by up to 30 years of imprisonment.