This post is also available in: Español
Panella Law Firm Accepts Cases Throughout Florida
If you think an arrest for drug possession is no big deal, you’re wrong — it is, so you need to hire our Orlando drug possession lawyers to defend you. Unless a minimal amount of marijuana is the substance involved, you’ll be charged with a felony. If you’re arrested with a large enough amount, you may also face federal and state trafficking charges. Protect yourself, your family, and your future by taking this seriously.
When you choose Panella Law Firm, you get a firm with:
Florida law breaks illegal drugs into five schedules:
Controlled substances are included in the same schedules in federal law. As you can see, if you think you won’t get into trouble because you’re not involved in “street drugs” like heroin or cocaine, but instead are fooling around with prescription medications, that could be a very costly mistake. You could be in prison if you’re found with enough illegally obtained medications that can be legally purchased by patients with genuine needs.
Under Florida statute, “a person may not … possess with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver, a controlled substance ….” It’s also illegal to possess these drugs for personal use. Penalties increase if the arrest was on or within 1,000 feet of a:
It’s not just what you’re possessing, but where and when you’re possessing it, that can make a big difference in the possible penalties you face.
Federal law states that it’s a prohibited act to possess with the intent to dispense, distribute, or manufacture a controlled or counterfeit substance. Federal agents normally investigate cases involving large amounts of drugs trafficked across state or national borders, and the manufacture or growing of illegal substances. They normally won’t get involved in simple possession cases.
There are three elements to possession cases. They all must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction.
The prosecutor must present evidence that the seized material is a controlled substance as defined by state law. This normally involves scientific analysis by a crime lab, which can be mistaken or falsified.
The arresting officer should test the material before you’re arrested, and those results need to be confirmed. No drug possession attorney should take test results for granted, and samples must be tested again. Mistakes happen, and police drug labs are notorious for problems, including framing defendants with false test results.
If you’re a qualified patient for medical marijuana, are on the use registry, and obtained the drug through a licensed treatment center, what you possess isn’t a controlled substance.
The prosecutor must prove you knew, or you should have known, of the illegal nature of the substance and its presence.
The prosecutor must establish that you had control over the location and presence of the controlled substance. Often, it’s on the defendant’s body or in a container held by the person. It can also be away from you if you controlled it. It may be in your locker at work, in a vehicle’s glove compartment, a purse or backpack and still be under your control.
The prosecution must convince the jury there’s no other reasonable explanation based on the evidence. Jury members need to be virtually certain of your guilt to render a guilty verdict. Attorney Michael Panella’s success at trial is often due to his ability to show that the prosecution’s case isn’t credible and there’s enough doubt to justify dismissal.
There may be issues with how evidence against you was collected or how you were interrogated or treated by the police. Factual defenses could be anything that prevents the prosecution from establishing the necessary elements of the crime, such as:
Legal defenses depend on the facts of what happened and the applicable laws and constitutional protections. An officer needs a well-founded, reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on the facts and circumstances before you can be detained.
The officer may question you before or after you’re detained, and you may be arrested without being questioned.
An officer must have probable cause before arresting you.
Defendants are usually successful in defending these claims because experienced self defense attorneys show jury members that the prosecution’s evidence isn’t strong enough to overcome reasonable doubt. Jury members may think it’s possible you committed the crime but aren’t convinced enough to find you guilty.
The prosecution’s witnesses’ testimony may not be credible, and there could be problems with the prosecution’s evidence. A drug possession lawyer may introduce evidence contradicting the prosecution’s case and bring up reasons why witnesses shouldn’t be believed.
If you have solid defenses, the prosecution may withdraw the charges, or a judge may dismiss them. If that doesn’t happen, usually both sides reach a plea bargain agreement on how the case should be handled. If that fails, your case will probably go to trial.
A plea bargain allows both sides to have certainty and avoid the risks and costs of going to trial. You would agree to a given sentence in exchange for a guilty plea to the charges or lesser charges. This way, you avoid having a jury find you guilty and the imposition of a tougher sentence. The agreement needs to be approved by a judge.
When Attorney Michael Panella a skilled drug case lawyer finds weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and develops strong defenses, they go hand in hand with negotiating positive plea bargain agreements for his clients, or getting charges dropped altogether. Prosecutors have limited resources and they don’t want to spend them on cases they’re likely to lose.
Possible sentences vary widely. They depend on the circumstances of your case, the drug involved, the amount, and your prior record. Florida drug possession charges generally have the following sentences:
The time you spend in jail is time you’re not living your life, supporting your family and yourself. You have other things to do with the thousands of dollars you could pay in fines. The punishments you face for drug possession could result in a lost job and difficulty finding another. Attorney Michael Panella may be able to help you avoid jail time or minimize it so it has less impact on your life.
Paraphernalia in Florida is defined as equipment, product, and materials that are used or designed for the use, propagation, cultivation, manufacturing, or transporting of controlled substances. The statute that criminalizes paraphernalia lists numerous items that are considered paraphernalia, including but not limited to:
Florida criminal law makes the possession of drug paraphernalia a first-degree misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, drug paraphernalia is defined as contraband and can be seized by authorities under civil forfeiture laws.
In addition to state possession penalties, individuals caught with controlled substances may also face federal penalties if charged in federal court. First-time offenders facing charges of possession of a controlled substance can go to prison for up to a year and pay up to $1,000 in fines. The penalties increase for second and third-time offenders. Additionally, civil penalties of up to $10,000 may be levied.
If an individual is charged with possession with intent to distribute federally, the penalties substantially increase and include mandatory minimums of five or ten years in a federal penitentiary. As with simple possession charges, repeat offenders charged with possession with intent to distribute face increased prison time and fines.
A conviction for drug possession can have serious repercussions on your life. Although you can no longer be disqualified from receiving federal student aid, your admission to colleges, universities, and trade schools may be negatively impacted by a drug conviction, depending on the school.
You will also face having your driver’s license revoked for up to one year if you are convicted of drug possession in Florida. If this happens, your ability to engage in gainful employment may be severely hampered. Fortunately, a drug possession lawyer can help you obtain a restricted license if driving is part of your job description.
Additionally, you may have significant problems obtaining certain types of employment with a drug possession conviction on your record, including government jobs, law enforcement positions, teaching positions, and other positions of trust.
Because of these severe consequences, it is important to hire an experienced drug possession lawyer as soon as possible after you have been arrested. Although you have been charged with possession, a seasoned Orlando drug possession lawyer can potentially get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether.
You can be charged with drug trafficking under Florida law if you knowingly sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, bring into this state, or possess enough of a controlled substance.
That amount varies with the drug:
The sentence varies with the amount and drug. For example, if you’re caught with between 28 and 200 grams of cocaine, there’s a mandatory minimum $50,000 fine and 3 years in prison. If that amount of drugs is involved, you have too much at stake not to hire our Orlando drug trafficking lawyers. Don’t do the prosecution favors by trying to defend yourself against these charges.
Drug distribution is prosecuted as possession with intent to sell. This may be added to a possession charge to make your situation worse and affect plea bargain negotiations. Evidence possibly used to justify this includes the presence of:
Admissions by you or statements made by others may also be evidence. If the facts don’t support these charges and/or law enforcement violated your rights in obtaining evidence or how they treated you, a drug distribution charge lawyer may have them withdrawn or dismissed.
If you have more questions regarding drug possession in Florida, please review the frequently asked questions and answers that follow.
What if I am holding a friend’s prescription medication?
If you are holding prescription medication for your friend, you can be arrested for possession. It doesn’t matter whether you intended to do something illegal with the medication or not.
What happens after a conviction for drug possession?
After a conviction for drug possession, you may be sent to jail or prison. During this time, you have the right to have your Orlando drug charge lawyer file an appeal if you went through a trial and did not take a plea deal.
Who will hear my appeal for a conviction of drug possession?
The appeal filed by your drug charge lawyer will be heard by a panel of appellate judges, and your case may be dismissed or affirmed. Common reasons why cases are dismissed on appeal include illegal police searches and seizures, chain-of-custody problems with evidence, and police misconduct.
Do I need a drug possession defense lawyer for a drug possession charge?
Yes. Individuals charged with drug possession or any other criminal charge need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to provide a robust defense against the state.
Can I be arrested for possession of medical marijuana?
Although medical marijuana is permitted in Florida, you may still be arrested for possession of medical marijuana if you do not follow state laws in acquiring it. Additionally, you can be arrested if you consume medical marijuana in public or while on public transport.
If you have more questions, please call our office as soon as possible to speak with an experienced drug possession lawyer.
If you’re under investigation for or currently face drug possession charges, hire a qualified defense attorney you can trust. Panella Law Firm’s drug possession lawyers will give you the respect you deserve and the best defense possible in your case.
”Mr. Panella goes above and beyond to understand the details of your legal matter. And then after he understands every aspect, he gives you everything you need to know. There is something about the way he practices law. There are no words I can write that adequately communicate the appreciation our family has for Mr. Panella and his team. Our family thanks God for him every day! And if you Hire him, you will too.” – James Beine (Google Review)