Drug Possession Lawyer in Miami, FL
Defending Against Possession of Controlled Substances Charges
If you are caught in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance, you could be facing a misdemeanor or felony charge. If the evidence suggests that you were planning to sell the drug or drugs you had, you could be accused of the more serious offense of possession with intent.
Regardless of the situation, drug possession charges are serious, and a conviction can affect you for the rest of your life. Being found guilty can result in a bevy of criminal penalties, including incarceration and/or fines. It will also leave a blemish on your criminal record. This mark can cause you to suffer several adverse consequences, such as the inability to get a job, find a place to live, or qualify for government benefits. If you have been accused of drug possession in Miami, it is critical that you speak with a defense lawyer about your case right away.
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we recognize the urgency and seriousness of drug possession matters. That is why we get started on building strategic defenses immediately. When you hire us, we will evaluate your case and determine the legal avenues we can explore to seek a favorable result on your behalf. As a team consisting of former prosecutors, we know how the other side prepares for cases and can anticipate the opposition's moves and plan a tactical counterattack.
Florida's Schedule of Controlled Substances
It is pertinent that any discussion about drug crimes begins by exploring the schedule of controlled substances. This examination is crucial as the statutes on drug possession generally list the elements and penalties in relation to the schedule the substance is in.
Under Florida Statutes § 893.03, there are five schedules of controlled substances. They are categorized based on the seriousness of the drug.
Below are the characteristics of each of the schedules:
- Schedule I:
- No accepted medical use
- High potential for abuse
- Schedule II:
- Accepted medical use
- High potential for abuse
- Potential for psychological or physical dependence is severe
- Schedule III:
- Accepted medical use
- Potential for abuse is less than that for Schedule I or II substances
- Potential for physical dependence is moderate or low
- Potential for psychological dependence is high
- Schedule IV:
- Accepted medical use
- Lower potential for abuse than Schedule III substances
- Potential for physical or psychological dependence is limited
- Schedule V:
- Accepted medical use
- Lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV substances
- Potential for physical or psychological dependence is lower than that for Schedule IV substances
Florida Drug Possession Charges
The law concerning simple possession is Florida Statutes § 893.13(6). It provides that a person may be charged with an offense if they were in actual or physical control of a drug unless they had a valid prescription for it.
To obtain a conviction, the State must prove the following:
- The defendant possessed the substance
- The substance was a drug listed in the Schedule of Controlled Substances
- The defendant knew that the substance was on or around them
- The defendant intentionally had control of the substance
Note that a person can be charged with the offense if they had "actual or constructive" control of a drug or drug. To be in actual control means that the drug was on someone's person. In other words, they were holding it or it was in their pocket or a bag they were carrying.
Constructive control means that the drug was not physically in someone's possession. Instead, it was in a separate but nearby location. For instance, it could have been in the kitchen while the defendant was in their bedroom, or it could have been under a seat in a car the defendant was in. To prove that the defendant was in constructive control of a drug, the prosecutor must present additional evidence demonstrating that the defendant could or did intentionally exercise control over it.
If the defendant had large amounts of drugs or paraphernalia in their presence, they might be prosecuted under Florida Statutes § 893.13(1). This law concerns possession with intent to sell offenses. Possession with intent to sell is a more severe offense than simple possession.
These cases are very complex, especially since a person can face accusations even if they were not physically holding the substance in question. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., our Miami drug possession lawyers attend to every detail in these cases. Overzealous law enforcement officials, looking to build a strong case against the defendant, might engage in misconduct during the investigation. For instance, they could have conducted an unlawful search or seizure to make an arrest. Our team will listen to your side of the story to better understand everything that occurred, from the initial interaction with law enforcement officers to official charges being filed.
About the Possession of Marijuana, Cocaine & Other Narcotics
When a person is suspected of violating the law relating to a drug crime, a local or federal investigation will begin. Depending upon the amount of drugs suspected to be in your possession, the investigation will involve local authorities or federal agencies such as the DEA. In most cases involving the possession of a very small amount of narcotics, a person is likely to only be investigated locally, but there is no guarantee. It is always suggested to have a Miami drug possession attorney on your case as soon as possible.
When a person is under investigation for any type of drug crime, including marijuana trafficking, cocaine trafficking, or trafficking of any other type of narcotic, the police must follow very strict protocol to collect evidence. If even one of these rules is broken, they jeopardize the validity of the evidence they have just obtained. Fortunately for you, an attorney may be able to prove that your rights were violated during the agency's search and seizure attempt to collect evidence against you. In other cases, when an illegal search and seizure occurs, a person must understand what to do to refute the evidence that has been collected unlawfully.
Florida Drug Possession Penalties
Whether charged as a misdemeanor or felony, drug possession carries harsh penalties. As alluded to earlier, the exact punishments that can be levied depend on the type of drug involved in the offense and, in some cases, on the amount of the substance in question.
Potential drug possession conviction penalties are as follows:
- Possession of a controlled substance:
- Third-degree felony
- Up to 5 years of imprisonment and/or
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- Possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana:
- First-degree misdemeanor
- Up to 1 year of incarceration and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Possession of more than 10 grams of certain Schedule I controlled substances:
- First-degree felony
- Up to 30 years of imprisonment and/or
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Possession of a Schedule V controlled substance:
- Second-degree misdemeanor
- Up to 60 days of incarceration and/or
- Up to $500 in fines
You can seek to avoid the harsh conviction penalties for simple possession, but doing so requires aggressive defense. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we are champions for the accused and fight hard to protect their rights and freedoms. Our skilled and competent Miami drug possession attorneys are ready to do what it takes to seek an optimal result in your case.
Defenses to Drug Possession Charges in FL
While drug crimes can entail a wide variety of things, including trafficking, sales, cultivation, and transportation, simply just possessing illegal substances is enough to lead to an arrest. The severity of your sentence will depend on the amount and type of drugs found on your person and if you have any prior convictions on your record.
Before you can be convicted with possession, the prosecutor has to prove several different elements.
These include the following:
- That you were fully aware that the drug existed
- That the substance in question is illegal
- That you had control over both the location and the presence of the drug
If they cannot prove these three things, then your case has a higher chance of being overturned. When preparing a defense for your possession charges, it is important to attack the elements that the prosecutor is working to prove. Providing specific, concrete evidence goes a long way in court and can help defend your innocence.
FLORIDA POSSESSION WITH INTENT LAWS
Possession with Intent to Sell/Manufacture/Deliver is a type of drug crime that refers to the possession of an illegal narcotic with the intention of selling or dealing the narcotic to a third party. Narcotics include, but are not limited to: marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and unauthorized prescription medications.
Possession with Intent to Sell/Manufacture/Deliver Marijuana is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in Florida State Prison. Possession with Intent to Sell/Manufacture/Deliver Cocaine/Controlled Substances is a second degree felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in Florida State Prison.
DEFENSE FOR POSSESSION WITH INTENT CHARGES IN FL
When law enforcement suspects that a person has committed the crime of possession with intent to sell/manufacture/deliver, they do not have to prove that the person sold any drugs. Rather, they must prove that the person “intended” to sell the drugs he/she had in his/her possession.
Some of the things officers will look at to determine what to charge include but are not limited to:
- Amounts of drug in his/her possession
- Amounts of cash in his/her possession
- How the drugs are packaged (if the drugs are individually packaged, law enforcement will usually presume that the person is intending to sell narcotics)
- Area of Town (are drug transactions common in the area)
Unfortunately, it is usually up to the discretion of the investigative officer based on his law enforcement experience as to whether to charge possession with intent to sell/manufacture/deliver or simple possession.
Protect Your Future - Call Our Miami Drug Possession Lawyers
If you have recently been arrested or are currently under investigation for the alleged possession of an illegal narcotic, this is a serious matter requiring skilled legal representation of a Miami possession defense attorney from a law firm with the ability to pursue justice. At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., this is exactly what you get.
The legal team at the firm is composed of former Florida State Prosecutors with years of experience in the field of criminal defense. In fact, the firm is so dedicated to their cases that they exclusively work on criminal defense.
Brett Schwartz is one of the best attorneys
“Brett Schwartz is one of the best attorneys available in Florida. I was charged with a DUI with Serious Bodily Injury and Leaving the Scene. I was facing a possible 10 year sentence with a Judge that rejected our plea on several occasions and seemed to have a soft spot for cases like this. And then when everything seemed hopeless and I spent my ...”
I thoroughly recommend Brett Schwartz as a defense attorney.
“I thoroughly recommend Brett Schwartz as a defense attorney. He worked tirelessly and relentlessly to get my case dropped even before it went to trial. He succeeded, although the odds were heavily stacked against us. Thanks to our overcrowded justice system, the entire ordeal took two months, and was the most stressful experience of my ...”
Thanks Brett...sound strategy and a willingness to go the extra mile made all the difference!
“Brett aggressively handled my felony cases and the outcome directly reflected his tenacity.”
- Bradley B
If you need help go see Brett!
“We worked with Brett on a domestic violence charge. He was the third lawyer we went to and we FINALLY got the result we desired. His knowledge of the law, the system and straightforwardness are beyond impressive. He "tells it like it is", but he knows how to get the job done. In our case, we were stuck in traffic and he had won before we even got ...”
So grateful to have found Brett Schwartz!
“I knew in the few minutes in speaking with Brett that he was the right attorney for my Domestic Violence case. He put me at ease immediately and got the ball rolling to rectify the issue.”