Drug crime charges in Florida are based on various factors such as the type of drug, its weight, and the intended use. Even having a small amount of a controlled substance can lead to an arrest. The penalties for a drug crime conviction can impact the rest of your life. If you or a loved one is charged with a drug crime, it is important to have an experienced drug crime lawyer represent you.
A controlled substance is any drug listed in Schedules I-V of Florida Statute 893.03. Drugs are categorized into these federally regulated schedules based on how likely they are to be abused. Penalties for drug crime convictions are determined based on the schedule level.
Controlled Substance Schedule
The controlled substances in the schedules below are based on how hazardous they are to the user’s health and the community’s safety.
- Schedule I—This is the most severe drug category and includes substances with no medical purpose and a high potential for abuse. Examples: Heroin, ecstasy, LSD, and fentanyl.
- Schedule II—Drugs with some medically accepted purposes with strict limitations. These also have a high risk for potential abuse. Examples: Morphine, oxycodone, and opioids.
- Schedule III—These drugs are accepted for medical use but have the potential to form a physical or psychological dependency. Example: Anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV—Drugs commonly accepted for medical purposes and have a low potential for dependency. Example: Xanax.
- Schedule V—These drugs have the lowest possible abuse potential and are commonly accepted for medical use. They can include over-the-counter medications. Examples: cough medicine, Lyrica, Valium.
Florida law treats drug possession differently than attempting to sell, deliver, or distribute one. Drug possession charges are when you have maintained control or ownership over the item. This could include temporary possession.
Possession with Intent to Sell
A simple possession charge could turn into “intent to sell” based on the amount of the drug found. According to Florida law, selling is the transferring or delivering something to someone else in exchange for or promise of money or something valuable. Factors determining intention to sell instead of possession include:
- Large amounts of cash in or around the property.
- Packaging materials, such as bags.
- Equipment such as scales, testing kits, and mixing devices.
- Testimony from yourself or known associates.
Dispense of Controlled Substances
Dispensing charges may be issued if a licensed practitioner, such as a pharmacist or a pharmacy employee, illegally transferred doses of a controlled substance.
Driving Under the Influence
If you were found to be under the influence of any drug while operating a motor vehicle, you could be charged with DUI. Unlike alcohol, there is no threshold drug level you have to surpass to be charged—any amount of drugs (even legally prescribed ones) that influence your driving capability could lead to an arrest.
Trafficking is when the amount of drugs you possess exceeds the intent to sell limit. Each drug has a specific amount that is considered trafficking and varies greatly depending on the drug. For instance, possessing 28 grams or more of cocaine, four grams of morphine, or having over 300 cannabis plants is trafficking.
Penalties for drug crimes vary greatly, from misdemeanors to life in prison. The type of drug, the amount found, your past criminal record, evidence of the intent to sell, and other charges determine your sentence if convicted. You also could face steeper penalties if caught in possession of drugs within 1,000 feet of a school or park.
Attorney Alison M. Lopes defends those accused of drug possession, selling, and trafficking in Orange County and Central Florida. These charges come with harsh penalties that can affect the rest of your life. Ensure you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Call our office at 407-442-2724 to discuss your case.