Facing Drug Possession Charges in Polk County?
Get a Lakeland drug defense attorney who fights back
Possession may be the most minor of Florida’s drug charges, but it’s still a serious offense, usually charged as a felony. Even a single charge can have massive implications for your future and your freedom. The only way out is to fight back with an experienced Lakeland drug possession defense lawyer on your side.
That’s why you need to reach out to Thomas C. Grajek, Attorney at Law as soon as possible when you’re facing possession charges. I’ll investigate, find the holes in the prosecution’s case, and work toward a positive resolution. Call or use the online contact form for a free consultation.
What are the penalties for drug possession in Florida?
Under Florida law, most drug possession is a felony. The degree of the felony depends both upon the substance and the amount possessed. Note that lower degree drug possession charges apply only to those who possess the substance for their own use. Possession with the intent to sell or distribute or the manufacturing of controlled substances can result in different (and usually more severe) charges.
First-degree misdemeanor possession
While most drug possession in Florida carries a potential felony charge, possession of a small amount of marijuana is the exception. Possession of under 20 grams of marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor, with the potential for enhanced penalties if the defendant has four or more prior drug offenses. This penalty does not apply to legal medical marijuana possession.
A conviction of first-degree misdemeanor possession carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail as well as a maximum fine of $1,000. If eligible for enhanced penalties, a defendant may also be sentenced to mandatory treatment or one year home detention. A conviction also results in a one-year driver’s license suspension.
Third-degree felony possession
Aside from small amounts of marijuana, possession of any controlled substance on Florida’s drug schedules is typically charged as a third-degree felony. Third-degree felony charges apply to possession of less than 28 grams of cocaine, less than four grams of heroin or other opiates, less than 10 grams of MDMA/ecstasy, less than one gram of LSD, and between 20 grams and 25 pounds of marijuana (except legally prescribed medical marijuana).
Those convicted of third-degree felony possession face up to five years jail time with a maximum fine of $5,000 and suspension of their driver’s license.
First-degree felony possession
Possession of any substance in sufficient quantities to imply intent to sell or distribute can result in a first-degree felony charge. Note that evidence of actual sale or distribution is not necessary to be charged with a first-degree felony; the mere possession of a certain amount of each drug is all that needs to be shown.
The penalties for first degree felony drug possession include up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of up to $250,000. Certain drugs and amounts carry mandatory minimum sentences. For example, possession of between 28 and 200 grams of cocaine has a mandatory minimum sentence of three years with a $50,000 fine, while more than seven grams of LSD carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years with a $500,000 fine.
These fines and penalties should not be taken lightly. Not only will a drug possession conviction affect your finances and freedom, but also a criminal record for drug possession in Florida may hinder your ability to rent a home or find employment. The only way out is to fight back with an experienced drug possession defense attorney on your side.
Actual possession vs. constructive possession
In Florida, there are two ways to establish possession of a controlled substance: actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is exactly what it sounds like: physically holding the drug in your hands or on your person.
Constructive possession is a bit more subjective. The elements of constructive possession are:
- The person must have “dominion and control” of the contraband.
- The person must know that the item was within their presence.
- The person must be aware that the item is illegal to possess.
Constructive possession is often applied in cases involving a search of a vehicle, a shared storage locker, or other space where multiple people have access to the contraband. It’s complicated for the prosecution to prove, though, and there are plenty of strategies a savvy defense attorney can use to rebut the charges. That’s why you need to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.
The right attorney can help you fight a possession charge
To beat a possession charge in Polk, Pasco, or Hillsborough County, you need an attorney who knows the system, knows Florida law, and knows how to fight back against the prosecution’s tactics. As one of just four ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientists in Florida, I know the science behind drug charges and know how to apply it in the courtroom. I am trained in forensic drug analysis and drug pharmacology. And I’ve seen firsthand the non-validated science that police and prosecutors use to try to pin drug charges on people.
You need a lawyer who will go on the offensive against your possession charge. That might mean getting evidence thrown out, which could lead the prosecution to drop the charges. If not, I’m prepared to fight for a Not Guilty verdict at trial. It may also be possible to get your charges reduced or take advantage of a drug diversion program, depending on the circumstances.
Remember, the clock is already ticking, and you don’t want to face charges on your own. The sooner you reach out to a drug possession lawyer, the better. Call or use the online contact form for a free consultation.