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Tens of thousands of people are behind bars in Florida for drug-related crimes. If you have been arrested and want your best chance to avoid joining those individuals for an extended stay, you need an Orlando drug charge lawyer. Illegal drugs are common in Florida, and they support an enormous underground industry. Those involved potentially face state and federal drug charges. If that has happened to you, Attorney Michael Panella may be able to help.
Both state and federal laws address drug crimes. Federal law enforcement agencies focus primarily on illegal manufacture, sales, and distribution over state lines or national borders. Generally, these agencies and prosecutors have more resources at their disposal than their state counterparts, so you should take a federal drug investigation or charge very seriously.
If your life has collided with the criminal justice system, you can protect your freedom by contacting our top Orlando drug charge lawyers who will fight for you.
Drug charges are no joke, so take a step to protect yourself by contacting the Panella Law Firm today at 407-233-1822.
Your arrest may be due to drugs that have legal, medical uses but which are illegal if they’re used recreationally or sold outside legal channels. Some drugs are strictly illegal, and anything involved with them can result in an arrest. Florida law categorizes drugs into five schedules and includes long lists of specific drugs and substances.
Controlled substances are listed in the same schedules in federal law. A qualified drug charge defense lawyer may be able to show that the substance at issue in your case isn’t an illegal drug (controlled substance).
Florida statute §893.13 states that a person may not sell, manufacture, deliver or possess with intent to sell, a controlled substance (unless it’s used for a legal purpose). Under certain circumstances, penalties for these actions can increase when they occur on or within 1,000 feet of: a childcare facility, a school between the hours of 6 a.m. and 12 midnight, a park, a community center, a publicly owned recreational facility, a college, university, church, or religious organization. There are also restrictions on what physicians and others able to prescribe legal drugs can do.
Federal drug charges fall into three classes of “prohibited acts.” They are:
Class A crimes cover a wide range of acts involving illegal drugs. Classes B and C aim to prevent legitimate drug businesses from contributing to or profiting from unlawful and counterfeit drugs.
If you’re facing federal drug charges, get help from our Orlando drug crime lawyers. When your future is at stake, you need an experienced, skilled attorney. You will find that with Panella Law Firm. Count on us to aggressively defend your rights.
Call us for help today at 407-233-1822.
Even state drug convictions can result in a penalty that costs a lot in time and money, not to mention disruption to your life and future plans. Depending on your state charge, you could be looking at anywhere from one to 30 years in a Florida state prison. Fines can range from $500 to $10,000. Community service may also be part of the sentence. Depending on your past criminal record and the facts of your situation, penalties can increase, be very harsh and result in many years in prison. Like state sentences, federal sentences are also driven by the facts of the crime and your record.
Whether yours is a state or a federal prosecution, you need a savvy, experienced drug charge defense lawyer on your side to see that your case is handled skillfully and you receive the most lenient sentence possible under the circumstances.
Drug charges in Florida get their start in many ways. Possession charges are often the result of people being stopped and frisked by police or vehicles being pulled over and searched. In some cases, drugs or drug-related evidence may be found unexpectedly when a search warrant is executed for a different crime.
Some drug arrests occur because police receive tips that acts have been observed which appear to involve drug dealing, leading to an investigation and arrests. It’s common that people involved in low-level dealing will cooperate with investigations and inform on others involved. You may be implicated by someone cooperating with the police.
Undercover agents might also be used to find evidence of illegal acts. They may pose as drug buyers, dealers, distributors, importers, or someone involved in illegal money laundering (where profits from crimes are treated in a way to make them appear as if they were legitimately earned). When this is the case, a defense may be that you were entrapped (the crime was the agent’s idea, and he induced you to engage in it).
Law enforcement officers need a well-founded, reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on the facts and circumstances before detaining a person. If the officer can’t demonstrate sufficient grounds to justify that suspicion, the evidence obtained may not be used at trial and your charges can be dismissed.
Before physical force is applied or the officer asserts his authority to make an arrest and the suspect submits), the officer must have probable cause. That means that under the facts and circumstances known by the officer, there was reasonably trustworthy information to lead a prudent man to believe that you committed or were committing the offense.
An arrest can be based on what an officer sees or other evidence that is developed during an investigation. If an investigation comes up with enough evidence, it’s presented to a judge, who can issue an arrest warrant.
If you’re arrested without sufficient legal grounds, you should be released from custody. Evidence obtained due to an illegal arrest should be suppressed and charges dropped. Depending on the situation, an investigation may continue until there are enough grounds to justify an arrest, and you could be taken into custody again.
To be convicted, the prosecution has the burden of proving, beyond all reasonable doubt, that you committed the crime. Each drug charge has different elements or issues that must be established. If an element isn’t proven, you should be found innocent on that charge, although you may be found guilty of another, lesser crime.
A successful trial for a defendant usually happens because the evidence and the arguments made by your attorney create more than a reasonable doubt for the jury. After seeing the evidence, a jury member may think you might have committed the crime, but still not be convinced enough by the evidence presented to find you guilty. The person may not find the prosecution witnesses’ testimony credible and may have problems with the prosecution’s evidence.
Some prosecutors’ cases are weakened when evidence is excluded from trial because of an illegal search. In other cases, statements made by a defendant may not have been used at trial because an officer failed to give the required Miranda warnings (that the defendant had a right to an attorney, had the right to remain silent during questioning, and was on notice that anything he or she said could be used against them). A seasoned drug defense lawyer knows how to leverage the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and/or evidence for the benefit of a client facing drug charges in Florida.
Because of illegal searches or other mistakes made by the police or prosecutor, a judge may disallow the use of certain evidence. That may weaken the prosecution’s case to the point that the prosecutor withdraws the charges or the judge dismisses the case.
Most drug charge cases are resolved through a plea bargain if they don’t end due to evidentiary or technical issues. This means the defendant pleads guilty to the charges, or to a lesser charge, in exchange for a sentence which is agreed upon with the prosecution. A judge must approve and accept the plea. The sentence is typically lighter than what would be imposed after a guilty verdict at trial. As a part of the plea deal, the defendant may agree to cooperate in an on-going investigation or to testify against other defendants. Avoiding the uncertainty of a jury verdict is a main reason defendants and the prosecution agree to plea bargains.
If you don’t qualify for a public defender, your options are to hire an attorney or represent yourself. Given the possible impact of a guilty verdict on you and your family, now and in the future, representing yourself is a bad idea. You lack the knowledge and experience needed to protect your rights and get the best possible outcome. Even attorneys experienced in other areas of law shouldn’t represent themselves if they face a criminal prosecution for some reason. Whether you plan to assert an aggressive defense and go through the trial process or you hope to make a favorable plea deal, you need a criminal defense attorney who knows the law, the system, the prosecutors and the judges. Don’t take a chance with your future when expert legal help is available.
If you’re being investigated for or have been arrested on drug charges, there’s nothing more important than getting qualified defense counsel. If you want to beat a drug charge, you need the right attorney for the job. The Panella Law Firm’s drug charge lawyers can provide you with some of the best strategies and effectiveness in Florida.
Call us at 407-233-1822 or email us to connect. Your case matters, and the sooner we get involved, the faster we can start building a solid defense that will protect your freedom and future.