Many people may not consider the kind of drugs involved in an offense. However, Florida has a drug schedule that categorizes substances and this may affect a defendant’s potential penalty.
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration says that there are five different categories of drugs, also called schedules. The DEA divides substances based on the way people use them.
Schedule of substances
Many medical professionals consider Schedule IV and V drugs to be safe for general use. They have a recognized medical purpose and there is little likelihood that people will abuse them. Schedule V substances include over-the-counter medications such as cough syrups, while Schedule IV includes prescriptions such as Valium and Xanax. While people can safely use Schedule III medications, there is a slight possibility that some people may become dependent on them. This category includes medications with low amounts of codeine.
Schedule II and I substances are the most serious classifications. Most medical experts consider it very likely that someone will become addicted to them. Some Schedule II drugs have an accepted medical use, such as oxycodone. However, people typically need medical supervision in order to use these substances. Conversely, Schedule I drugs do not have a medical purpose and include many controlled substances, such as heroin.
The kind of substance involved in an offense may determine the penalty that people face. The Florida Legislature clearly lays out what kinds of drugs fall under each schedule. People may face either second or three-degree felony charges for offenses involving Schedule I and II substances. A situation with a Schedule III drug may result in misdemeanor charges. The difference in classification could affect the fine that defendants pay and also determine whether they face imprisonment.
Sometimes, people could have a Schedule II or III substance because a doctor prescribed it. In this situation, defendants may need help to demonstrate that they are in legal possession of these substances.