Criminal Defense LawyerLakeland, Tampa, FL

Facing Drug Charges in Polk County?

Get an experienced Lakeland drug crime lawyer on your side

Person facing drug charges looking isolated and distressedDrug crimes are serious offenses which can carry steep penalties. Depending on the type of drugs, the specific offense, and the details of the offenders, drug crime charges can have substantial consequences for the rest of your life, including the loss of your driver’s license.

Without a qualified drug crimes lawyer on your side, you are going to be subjected to the worst of the legal system.

The best way to properly understand drug crimes is to seek counsel from a qualified Lakeland drug charges attorney with experience handling drug crimes. If you’ve been charged with drug crimes or are under investigation for drug-related charges, get a free consultation with Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law immediately.

How the state of Florida classifies controlled substances

Paralleling federal drug law, Florida’s state law classifies every controlled substance into five drug schedules. The Florida legislature considers three key aspects of every substance to determine which schedule it falls under: any accepted medical uses for the substance, the substance’s potential for abuse, and the substance’s potential to cause dependence if abused. In short, higher schedule drugs have been deemed to be more addictive and harmful, and thus the restrictions on their use are more stringent and the penalties for possession are more severe.

Details for all five drug schedules can be found in Florida Statute § 893.03, and a summary of each schedule can be found below.

Schedule I Drugs

The substances listed under Florida’s Schedule I have been judged to have “a high potential for abuse” with “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” Note that following the passage of Florida’s medical marijuana law in 2016, properly prescribed marijuana is an exception. Except for small amounts of marijuana, any possession of Schedule I drugs carries some of the most severe drug possession penalties.

Among the drugs included in Florida’s Schedule I are:

  • Heroin
  • Marijuana
  • Ecstasy/MDMA
  • Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Peyote
  • Mescaline
  • Hallucinogenic mushrooms (Psilocybin)

Schedule II Drugs

Person facing drug charges, standing with hands cuffed behind their backLike Schedule I controlled substances, Schedule II drugs are regarded as carrying a high risk for being abused with abuse commonly leading to serious physical or psychological dependence; however, the Florida legislature has found that these drugs do have limited legitimate medical uses.

Among the drugs included in Florida’s Schedule II are:

  • Cocaine
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
  • Methamphetamine
  • Amphetamine

Schedule III Drugs

The substances included in Schedule III have been deemed to have the potential for abuse, though less than those substances listed under the previous two schedules. According to the Florida legislature, abuse of Schedule III controlled substances has the potential to cause a moderate level of physical dependence and/or a high degree of psychological reliance on the substance; in the case of anabolic steroids, physical damage is also possible. However, all of these drugs do have legitimate uses in medical treatments.

Among the drugs included in Florida’s Schedule III are:

  • Anabolic steroids such as testosterone
  • Ketamine

Schedule IV Drugs

Drugs classified as Schedule IV have been judged to have an even lower risk for abuse than those in the schedules above, though any abuse can still trigger some dependence, physical or psychological. All drugs on this schedule have common medical uses, including many prescription medications that can be validly prescribed for mental illnesses or sleep disorders; however, use without a valid prescription is illegal.

Among the drugs included in Florida’s Schedule IV are:

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Halcion (triazolam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Flurazepam

Schedule V Drugs

The lowest schedule under Florida law, Schedule V drugs are regarded as having the lowest risk for abuse of all controlled substance, with a small risk for dependence upon abuse. These drugs all have legitimate medical uses. Many of the drugs on Schedule V contain controlled substances otherwise higher on Florida’s drug schedules (such as codeine) mixed with higher proportions of active medicinal ingredients that are not illegal (such as acetaminophen).

Among the drugs included in Florida’s Schedule V are:

  • Acetaminophen with Codeine
  • M-phen (codeine/phenylephrine/promethazine)
  • Robitussin (guaifenesin)
  • Lyrica (pregabalin)

Legal versus Illegal Drugs

Polk County charged about 3,300 people with felony drug crimes in 2020. Source: Florida Office of Economic and Demographic ResearchTypically, when discussing drug laws, we are focusing on illegal drugs. There are some drugs which, under United States law, are never legal to possess or use – heroin, cocaine, and LSD are good examples. Any possession of an illegal drug, or any attempt to manufacture, sell, distribute, or transport the drug is illegal and can result in serious penalties, including felony drug charges.

However, there are some drugs which are legal across the board (often called “over the counter,” something like acetaminophen) or only legal in certain circumstances (usually with a prescription from a doctor).

While a drug may be legal for you to possess, in certain circumstances it is still possible to get a drug charge for “legal” drugs. For example, if you attempt to sell your prescription medication, you are committing a crime, even if it is legal for you (and even the buyer) to possess that drug.

Still other drugs, such as alcohol and in some states marijuana, are recreational drugs which are legal to possess and consume by adults over the legal age.

Types of drug charges in Florida

In general, there are three categories of drug charges you might face in Florida:

  • Drug possession is defined as illegally and knowingly holding or possessing a controlled substance. Simple possession charges imply that the drug was held for personal use, without intent to sell.
  • Drug distribution, prosecuted as “possession with an intent to sell,” is exactly what it sounds like: having an illegal substance in your possession with the intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver it.
  • Drug trafficking is the most serious drug charge. It’s defined as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, possession, or transportation of a specific amount of a controlled substance. The threshold for a trafficking charge varies depending on the substance. These charges typically carry mandatory prison sentences.

Note that operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs can also result in DUI charges.

It’s quite common for prosecutors to “over-charge” drug offenses – charging possession with intent even when they can’t prove intent, for example. Unfortunately, a defendant who doesn’t have effective legal representation may end up convicted of a more serious offense than they actually committed. This is one of the many reasons to contact an experienced drug defense lawyer as soon as possible if you’re facing charges.

Drug Charges FAQ

What happens if you are charged with a drug crime in Florida?

Depending on the charges, you could be facing fines, jail time, probation, loss of your driver license, and a criminal record. It’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible if you’ve been arrested.

Do first time offenders go to jail in Florida?

It’s possible, depending on the charge. Factors that determine penalties include the severity of the charges, the types of drugs involved, and the strength of the evidence against you. Talk to an experienced drug charges lawyer.

What is a felony drug charge?

A felony drug charge typically involves drug trafficking, possession or sale of a large amount of dangerous drugs, or the manufacture or growing of drugs. An attorney can explain the charges you are facing.

How an experienced drug crimes lawyer can help

Again, the last thing you want to do is face drug charges alone.

Drug law is a broad field which requires a wealth of study and experience to understand. A capable defense attorney who specializes in drug law will be able to prepare the best possible defense against any charges, which can potentially result in charges being dropped or punishments being reduced.

I am one of just four Florida attorneys recognized as an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist, which means I have special training in the science behind drug and DUI charges, including forensic drug analysis, pharmacology, and instrumental analysis. Police and prosecutors often use non-validated science to try to pin drug charges on people. You need an advocate who knows how to use real, legitimate science to help you build a strong defense.

With the right drug charges lawyer on your side, you can build a legal strategy that protects your rights and fights for the best possible outcome. That might involve getting evidence thrown out, which can result in charges being dropped if the prosecution doesn’t have enough to move forward. Otherwise, I’m prepared to go before a judge and jury and fight for a Not Guilty verdict in court.

Depending on the situation, your best outcome might be acquittal, a reduced charge, or a drug diversion program. The key is to act quickly – the clock starts ticking as soon as you’re arrested. If you’re facing drug charges in Polk County, call or use the online contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

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