You can get into legal trouble just for having certain drugs in your possession. In these cases, you have not manufactured, distributed, or sold the controlled substance. Instead, the charge is usually against individuals who have an illegal material that is intended for personal use.
Possession of most controlled substances will result in a felony charge in Florida. However, the prosecution must prove specific facts to convict you of drug possession.
What Are the Elements of a Drug Possession Charge in Florida?
Every drug possession charge must meet the following requirements:
- The substance is illegal or controlled. Florida law defines very specific materials as “controlled substances.” Most controlled substances will need to be tested to prove what they are.
- Knowledge of the drug. To be convicted of drug possession, you need to actually know, or the prosecution must prove that you should have known, that the drug was illegal and that it was present.
- Control of the drug. You must have also had control of the drug to be convicted. For example, if the drug was in your roommate’s room, you may not have known it was there or had control over it to trigger a possession charge.
Charges for Possession in Florida
Because marijuana is legal for medical purposes in Florida, you can have up to a certain amount on your person without worrying about a possession charge, as long as you have a prescription for it. The same is not true with regard to other types of drugs.
You can be charged with a third-degree felony if you have:
- More than 20 grams of Marijuana
- Up to 28 grams of cocaine
- Up to 10 grams of ecstasy
- Up to 1 gram of LSD
- Up to 4 grams of heroin or other opiates
There are additional controlled substances as well, but these are the most common. If you have more than these amounts, the penalties increase up to a first-degree felony.
A third-degree felony can include up to five years of prison time. A first-degree felony can be up to 30 years in prison with up to $250,000 in fines.
Possession Charges for Minors
Juveniles are treated somewhat differently when it comes to drug possession charges in Florida. The charges themselves are the same, but your child will likely be charged in delinquency court depending on the drug, the amount, and your child’s criminal history. Juvenile delinquency court alleges possession as a “delinquent act” providing minors a way to avoid being convicted of the “crime” of possession. Juveniles with little or no criminal history may be eligible for a diversion program resulting in the charge eventually being dropped by the State in exchange for the child completing a probationary period and performing certain tasks such as remaining drug and crime-free, completing a drug treatment program; it can include individual, group, and family counseling. The diversion programs usually last six months to a year. It can also require random drug testing, educational support, and monitoring. The goal of the program is to get minors off drugs and keep drug charges off their record.
You may need to ask to get your child’s case diverted, and Attorney Malcolm Anthony can help with this process. Contact him today for more information about this program or to discuss other potential options if you or a loved one has been charged with a drug possession crime.