Orlando Drug Possession Lawyers

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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.

If you’re being investigated for drug possession or have already been charged, contact our top Orlando drug possession lawyers who will fight for you and your rights. Drug possession charges could result in jail time, so take action and contact Attorney Michael Panella today at 407-233-1822.

Our Drug Possession Lawyers Will Make Sure What You Had is Actually Illegal

Florida law breaks illegal drugs into five schedules:

  • Schedule 1: A substance with a high potential for abuse, with no currently accepted medical use in the U.S.; using it, even under medical supervision, won’t meet safety standards. These drugs include LSD, heroin, marijuana, PCP, peyote, GHB, methaqualone, ecstasy, and crack cocaine
  • Schedule 2: A substance with a high potential for abuse and it currently has an accepted but severely restricted medical use in the U.S. Misuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Includes opium, morphine, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, oxycodone, amphetamine, methamphetamine, methylphenidate, fentanyl, and cocaine
  • Schedule 3: A substance with a potential for abuse but less than those in Schedules 1 and 2. There’s an accepted medical use in the U.S. Abusing the substance may cause moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence or, in the case of anabolic steroids, may result in physical harm. Includes buprenorphine products, zolazepam, ketamine, anabolic steroids, and tiletamine
  • Schedule 4: A substance with low potential for abuse compared to those in Schedule 3. Medical use of the substance is accepted in the U.S. Misuse may cause limited physical or psychological dependence compared to Schedule 3 substances. Includes Darvon, Xanax, and Valium
  • Schedule 5: A substance, compound, mixture, or preparation of a substance with low potential for abuse compared to Schedule 4 substances. These drugs have a legal, medical use in the U.S. Abuse may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence compared to Schedule 4 substances. Includes Robitussin AC, Phenergan with Codeine, antitussive, antidiarrheal, and analgesic medications.

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.

What Makes Drug Possession Illegal?

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:

  • Childcare facility
  • School between 6 a.m. and 12 midnight
  • Park
  • Community center
  • Publicly owned recreational facility
  • College or university
  • Church or religious organization.

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. The federal agents normally investigate cases involving large amounts of drugs trafficked across state or national borders, the manufacture or growing of illegal substances. They normally won’t get involved in simple possession cases.

What Must a Prosecutor Prove in a Drug Possession Case?

There are three elements to possession cases. They all must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction.

1. What You Possessed Was a Controlled Substance Under Florida Law

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.

2. You Knew You Possessed a Controlled Substance

The prosecutor must prove you knew, or you should have known, of the illegal nature of the substance and its presence.

3. Your Control of the Drug

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.

What are Defenses a Drug Possession Lawyer Might Use?

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:

  • What was found wasn’t an illegal drug.
  • You didn’t know a controlled substance was in your possession.
  • You lacked control over the drugs which belonged to someone else.

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.

  • If there aren’t enough facts to justify that suspicion, evidence obtained from your detention shouldn’t be used at trial. That may take enough out of the prosecution’s case to make it difficult or impossible for it to be successful, so the charges may be dropped.

The officer may question you before or after you’re detained, and you may be arrested without being questioned.

  • Before any relevant questioning, the officer must give you the Miranda warning (named for a US Supreme Court case). They’re a reminder of your constitutional rights not to answer questions or cooperate with the police. You should also be told that anything you say can be used against you and of your right to have an attorney with you during questioning. If the warning isn’t given or is given too late in the process, disclosures you made before the point where it should have been given should be excluded from evidence.

An officer must have probable cause before arresting you.

  • Your arrest occurs when the officer applies physical force to you or asserts their authority to make an arrest, and you submit. Given the facts and circumstances known by the officer, they must have reasonably trustworthy information to permit a prudent person to believe you committed or were committing the crime of possessing illegal drugs. Without probable cause, you shouldn’t have been arrested; and if you’re in custody, you should be released. Evidence police obtained because of an illegal arrest should be suppressed. If a legitimate investigation continues, valid evidence is found later, and there really is probable cause, you could be arrested again.

Defendants are usually successful in defending these claims because 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.

How Can My Drug Possession Case be Resolved?

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 would 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 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.

What are Florida’s Drug Possession Penalties?

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:

  • First Degree Misdemeanor: Up to a year in jail and paying court costs
  • Third Degree Felony: A maximum of five years in prison plus a fine of up to $5,000
  • First Degree Felony: 30 years in prison maximum and a fine of up to $10,000

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.

Our Orlando Drug Trafficking Lawyers Can Protect Your Rights

You can be charged with drug trafficking under Florida law if you knowingly:

  • Sell
  • Purchase
  • Manufacture
  • Deliver
  • Bring into this state
  • Possess
  • Enough of a controlled substance.

That amount varies with the drug:

  • 25 pounds or more of cannabis or 300 or more plants
  • 28 grams or more of cocaine
  • 7 grams or more of oxycodone.

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 defending yourself against these charges.

Our Drug Distribution Charge Lawyers May Keep You Out of Prison

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:

  • Large amounts of cash
  • Baggies or other packaging used with illegal drugs
  • Drug paraphernalia, scales, rolling papers, and testing kits
  • Weapons.

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.

Our Orlando Drug Possession Lawyers Will Defend Your Reputation in Court

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.

Call us at 407-233-1822 or fill out our contact form. How your case is resolved may impact you for the rest of your life. The earlier we get involved, the faster we can investigate your arrest, and start building a solid defense that will protect your freedom and future.

Client Testimonial

”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)

Attorney Mike Panella

For Mike Panella, the concept of zealous advocacy developed at an early age – fueled by what he perceived to be an unjust resolution in a personal family legal matter. Mr. Panella would later attribute his passion to defend the rights of those who stand accused to those inequities in the legal system he observed, and considered unjust. Before opening Panella Law Firm, Mr. Panella served as an Assistant Public Defender for Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office and worked hundreds of cases in both Brevard and Seminole Counties. Mr. Panella was undefeated at trial. [ Attorney Bio ]

Contact Attorney Michael Panella

Need a criminal defense service? Turn to Panella Law Firm and contact us today with your question.

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