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.
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. 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.
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 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 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.
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.
You can be charged with drug trafficking under Florida law if you knowingly:
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 defending 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’re under investigation for or currently face drug possession charges, hire a qualified defense attorney you can trust. The 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.