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Drug possession penalties and defense tactics

| Nov 6, 2020 | Drug Crimes

Drug possession refers to the holding of an illegal substance for personal use or to sell. If someone is facing drug possession charges in Florida, the penalties can be stiff, depending on the type and amount of substance. 

To help fight charges, defense attorneys may use one of the common defense tactics to argue the case. 

Possession charges and penalties

According to the Florida Statutes, most drug charges are felonies, with the exception of recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana is legal, but recreational is not. If someone is possessing less than 20g of marijuana, it is a first degree misdemeanor. Otherwise, it is a third degree felony. Other third degree felonies are for less than 28 g of cocaine, less than 4g of heroin, less than 1 g of LSD and less than 10g of ecstasy. It is a first degree felony for higher amounts. 

For a first degree misdemeanor, penalties include court costs and up to one year in jail. The maximum penalty for a third degree felony conviction is five years in prison. For a first degree felony, the maximum is 30 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, and certain possessed drugs require mandatory minimums. 

Defense strategies

According to FindLaw, one common defense for drug possession is unlawful search and seizure, in which law enforcement officers violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Another common defense strategy is to deny the drugs were the defendant’s. 

The attorney may argue that the substance is not what the prosecutor says, which requires a lab analysis and a court testimony by the analyst that it is actually the illegal drug. If the drugs are missing, due to mishandling or too many transfers, there is a good chance the judge will dismiss the case.