A drug possession charge refers to when an individual is in possession of a controlled substance, and its purpose is for personal use rather than for distributing or selling. The specific charge varies depending on the type and amount of substance held.
The penalties also vary depending on the type of charge. For non-violent offenders, there may be an alternative option to spending time in jail.
Varying severity of charges
FindLaw discusses the different charges one may face if found in possession of a controlled substance. An individual in possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana faces a first-degree misdemeanor, unless this person holds a medical marijuana license.
An individual holding more than 20 grams of marijuana (except for medical marijuana), 4 grams or less of opiate/heroin, 1 gram or less of LSD, 10 grams or less of ecstasy or 28 grams or less of cocaine faces a third-degree felony charge.
It is a first-degree felony to be in possession of more than 28 grams of cocaine, more than 25 pounds of marijuana, more than 4 grams of opiate/heroin, more than 1 gram of LSD and more than 10 grams of ecstasy.
Penalties for conviction
Penalties for possession conviction include:
• First-degree misdemeanor: Court costs and jail time of up to one year
• Third-degree felony: Prison time of up to five years
• First-degree felony: Fines of up to $250,000 and prison time of up to thirty years
Alternatives to jail time
Convicted offenders may be able to avoid jail if they do not have a record of violence, and they want to become drug free. Court News Florida discusses the concept of drug court programs, which provides treatment and other resources for drug offenders.
As an alternative to jail, these court-supervised programs include substance abuse counseling, random drug screenings, residential treatment, court appearances and peer support meetings. Courts may also choose to dismiss charges once an individual completes the program, which ranges from four to 18 months.