Protecting Your Against Drug Charges in FL
If you or someone you know has recently been charged with a drug crime in Miami or any of the surrounding communities, working with experienced legal representation should be your first priority. The Miami drug crime defense attorneys at Hager & Schwartz, P.A. have more than 40 years of combined experience, are former prosecutors, and have handled the full range of drug crime cases. When you need to protect your rights, freedom, and future, place your trust in our proven lawyers.
Facing Drug Charges? Call (305) 330-1360 for a FREE Consultation!
What to Do After Being Arrested for a Drug Offense in FL
Being arrested for a drug crime can be scary. If you or a loved one is in this situation, taking certain steps throughout the process may help your case.
Below are some things you can do following an arrest:
- Stay calm: Being handcuffed by a police officer can bring up a range of emotions: frustration, fear, anger. But letting your feelings get the better of you in this situation can potentially hurt you in the long run. Using words or actions to try to stop the arrest can result in obstruction or resisting charges.
- Remain silent: During any interaction with the police, you’re only required to provide them with your personal identifying information. Beyond that, you can politely decline to give statements or answer questions. If you say anything, it can be used as evidence against you. It’s best to wait until you have an attorney present before speaking with law enforcement officials.
- Contact an attorney: You have a right to legal representation at all stages of your drug crime case, that includes during the arrest process. As alluded to above, an attorney can advise and guide you on interacting with the police when they’re interrogating you. They can let you know how to answer questions or even if you should answer at all.
- Prepare for your defense: Once you’ve retained legal representation, you can begin working on a defense to fight your charge. Make sure you tell your lawyer everything that led to your arrest, as every detail matter. For instance, if at any point a law enforcement official violated your rights, you may have grounds to have evidence in your case suppressed.
Florida Drug Schedules
Various types of drugs are on the street, and some are considered more dangerous than others. Florida separates the different controlled substances into five distinct groups (referred to as schedules). Schedule I contains drugs that are considered the most serious, and Schedule V are considered the least serious.
Florida Statute § 893.03 classifies controlled substances as follows:
Schedule I: These drugs don’t have an accepted medical use and have a high potential
Substances in this group include, but are not limited to:
Schedule II: These substances also have a high potential for abuse. Unlike Schedule
I drugs, they have an accepted medical use, but dispensing and administering
them is severely restricted. Schedule II substances are also likely to
lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
Drugs falling under this classification include, but are not limited to:
Schedule III: This group contains drugs that have an accepted medical use. They may
cause abuse, but such a result is less likely than with Schedule I or
II drugs. The potential for psychological or physical dependence is moderate.
Substances in this classification include, but are not limited to:
- Anabolic steroids
Schedule IV: Compared to substances in the previous three schedules, the potential
for abuse of these drugs is low. They also have an accepted medical use
and are less likely to lead to physical or psychological dependence than
Schedule III drugs.
Schedule IV drugs include but are not limited to:
Schedule V: There is an accepted medical use for these drugs. Compared to Schedule
V substances, the likelihood of abusing these drugs or becoming physically
or psychologically dependent on them is low.
Drugs in this group include but are not limited to:
- Substances with 200 milligrams or less of codeine per 100 milliliters or 100 grams
- Substances with 100 milligrams or less of opium per 100 milliliters or 100 grams
How Penalties for Drug Charges Are Determined in FL
If you’re found guilty of a drug crime, a court may sentence you to incarceration and/or fines. The severity of the offense determines the penalties you face. Generally, more serious drugs and larger quantities of the substances lead to greater penalties.
To illustrate this, below are the penalties for drug possession:
Possession of a Schedule V drug is a second-degree misdemeanor penalized by:
- Up to 60 days in jail and/or
- Up to $500 in fines
Possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis is a first-degree misdemeanor
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
Possession of a controlled substance is a third-degree felony penalized by:
- Up to 5 years in prison and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
Possession of more than 10 grams of certain Schedule I or II drugs is a
first-degree felony penalized by:
- Up to 30 years in prison and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Alternative Sentencing for Florida Drug Crimes
In some cases, in lieu of incarceration, a person convicted of a drug crime may be eligible for alternative sentencing. This means that they would participate in a treatment program or other services designed to rehabilitate them and give them the skills they need to reenter society, reducing the risk of reoffending. Upon successful completion, their case would be dismissed.
Alternative sentencing programs may include:
- Participating in a drug education course
- Completing community service
- Attending a substance abuse course
- Receiving substance abuse education with a licensed provider
- Completing a drug abuse assessment
Individuals seeking this option must meet eligibility requirements. For instance, they must not have a criminal history and must have been charged with a specific crime. Additionally, they must submit their intent to participate to the prosecutor and may be required to go through an interview/screening to determine whether they’ll be accepted.
Drug crimes involve not just illegal street drugs but also prescription drugs as well. This is one of the fastest growing types of drug trafficking in Florida, and is commonly associated with charges of "doctor shopping". Florida's laws concerning the possession of prescription drugs are extremely strict and open the door for prosecutors to charge offenders with "trafficking" offenses for carrying even a small amount of a prescription drug. Some of the most common prescription drugs that are associated with drug crime arrests include OxyContin, Opana, and Adderall. The laws surrounding prescription drug cases can be interpreted differently and may be confusing for those who are not familiar with the criminal justice system.
Doctor shopping is a crime that involves seeing a doctor for the purpose of obtaining prescriptions while not disclosing to that doctor that they already have multiple other prescriptions filled from another doctor. This is a third-degree felony in Florida and is punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison and a $5,000 fine. Withholding information from a practitioner is becoming more and more popular as pain management clinics are growing in number throughout Florida, and law enforcement officers have started investigating innocent patients simply because they have received treatment prescribed by a medical professional.
Aggressive Defense from a Miami Drug Crime Lawyer
Drug crimes penalties will vary depending upon the offense itself, the type of drug and the amount involved. In some cases, a drug crime conviction in Florida may result in up to 15 years imprisonment in a state correctional facility. In other cases (usually involving non-violent first-time offenders) alternative sentencing may be available in lieu of jail time. Your attorney can review your particular case and determine what options may be available to you.
Defending any drug crime charge is not easy. It requires dedication, persistence and a thorough understanding of Florida case law and legislation involving all types of drug charges. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., our experienced drug crime attorneys have what it takes to be effective. Let us show you how we can protect your rights and help you avoid a conviction. We represent clients throughout all of Miami-Dade County and the surrounding areas in Florida.
Call (305) 330-1360 to request a FREE consultation.
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