If you have been charged with a drug offense, it can be a frightening and possibly life-altering experience. The charges can carry several criminal punishments, including jail time steep fines, probation, or a combination. In addition, the charges can potentially affect your ability to find a job or housing.
Most drug charges are either state felonies or misdemeanors, but the charges also are federal offenses, which often have very harsh penalties. If charged by the U.S. government with certain quantities, a person may face mandatory minimum sentences and millions of dollars in fines.
There may be ways to reduce your drug charges or have them dropped entirely. For example, if the arresting officer conducted an illegal search and seizure of your home or person, the evidence could be found inadmissible. Your Tallahassee drug defense lawyer may be able to fight to have your drug charges dismissed or reduced.
Drug Defense Attorney in Tallahassee
Hiring an experienced drug attorney in Tallahassee is extremely important if you have been charged with a Florida drug offense. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law have knowledge of Florida’s drug laws and have successfully defended various drug charges.
Don Pumphrey and the firm have years of experience representing those facing misdemeanor drug charges, felony drug charges and even federal drug offenses. They are dedicated to defending the rights of clients, and they will fight to get the best possible outcome in your case.
Drug charges in Florida can include a variety of offenses, ranging from simple misdemeanors to serious felonies. Federal felony offenses can carry harsher penalties. Most state drug offenses are listed in the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act within Florida Statutes § 893.13. Accusations could include charges for:
Possession of a Controlled Substance
This charge includes either actual or constructive possession of an illegal or prohibited substance. The charge is a serious offense and could lead to jail time, fines or both, depending on the schedule of the drug possessed.
Illegal Possession of Prescription Drugs
This includes instances of actual or constructive possession of prescription drugs without a prescription or in an amount in excess of your prescription. Without sufficient legal justification, such as a prescription from a valid doctor, possession could result in criminal charges.
Possession with Intent to Sell
Under Florida law, this offense is defined as actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance or prescription pills in such an amount to indicate the intent to sell or distribute to someone. A variety of evidence can be used to prove intent to sell, including baggies, scales and the amount possessed.
The term “trafficking” often refers to large-scale operations relating to the manufacturing, transportation and sale of narcotics. This criminal offense can happen across state or national borders or throughout the state. It can be charged as a federal offense, a Florida state offense or both.
In the state, actual or constructive possession of any amount of marijuana is highly illegal, despite its growing acceptance nationwide. The charge can be simple possession or felony possession, depending on the amount.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
This is another common drug-related offense in Florida. In many situations involving possession of a controlled substance, related paraphernalia such as bongs, pipes, and needles can be found. This also can be a criminal offense.
Trafficking Prescription Drugs
The sale and distribution of prescription drugs within the state of Florida, whether online or through other means can bring serious criminal consequences. The attorneys at Pumphrey Law are here to help if you have been charged with this crime. Additionally, the firm also works with those accused of Drug Manufacturing, which is defined as the producing or growing controlled substances or illegal drugs in the state of Florida
Drugs in Florida are classified into various schedules, from Schedule I to Schedule V. The drugs are divided based on the potential for abuse, medical use and the results of abuse, according to Florida Statutes § 893.03.Schedule I drugs typically have the most serious penalties, whereas Schedule V drugs very rarely carry harsh punishments.
Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and have no acknowledged medical use in the United States. Some examples are GHB, heroin, LSD, cannabis and salvia Divinorum.
Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and a very limited accepted medical use in the United States. Abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence, according to the statute. Common examples are opium, cocaine, methamphetamine, Adderall and Vicodin.
Schedule III drugs have a potential for abuse, but it is lower than Schedule I or II drugs. It also has an accepted medical use in the United States. Some examples are barbituric acid and anabolic steroids, which include any drug or hormonal substance relating to testosterone that promotes muscle growth.
Schedule IV drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs and accepted medical uses in the United States. Examples of these drugs include Darvocet, Xanax and Ambien.
Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and accepted medical uses in the United States. This schedule can include certain cough medications containing low quantities of codeine.
Names and Examples of Controlled Substances in Florida
Even if someone is familiar with the Florida laws and regulations, it can be difficult to associate drug slang or brand names with the different categories of banned substances. The following lists a few different names and brands:
Alpha-Methylfentanyl, also known as Alpha-Methylthiofentanyl, Fentanyl and China White;
Alprazolam, also known as Xanax;
Amphetamines, also known as Uppers, Speed, Black Beauties and Bennies;
Benzoylecgonine, also known as Cocaine Metabolite;
Benzoylmethylecgonine, also known as Ecgonine, Cocaine, Powder, Blow, Coke;
Cathinone, also known as Bath Salts;
Clonazepam, also known as Klonopin;
Codeine or Hydrocodone with a NSAID or acetaminophen, also known as Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet;
Diacetylmorphine, also known as Heroin, Smack, Black Tar;
Enzodiazepines, also known as alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium);
Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, also known as GHB, the Date Rape Drug;
Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD, Acid;
Marinol, also known as THC Pill, Synthetic Cannabis;
Methadone, also known as Dolophine, Methadose;
Methamphetamine, also known as Meth, Speed;
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also known as Ecstasy, MDMA;
Methylphenidate, also known as Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall;
Morphine, also known as Roxanol, Kapanol;
Opium, also known as Poppy, Poppy Seeds, Opiates;
Oxycodone Hydrochloride, also known as OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan;
Phenylcyclidine, also known as PCP, Angel Dust;
Psilocybin, also known as Psilocybin, Magic Mushrooms, Shrooms;
Salvia divinorum, also known as Salvinorin A, Salvia, Synthetic Marijuana;
Tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), also known as Cannabis, Marijuana, Pot, Weed, Ganja, Chronic;
Florida Statutes § 893.13 describes different criminal penalties for various drug charges. Depending on the charge and the volume of the drug or drugs involved, penalties can range from misdemeanors to first degree felonies.
Punishment can be wide-ranging, however; the mere possession of any controlled substance other than marijuana is a felony in Florida, with a prison sentence of up to five years. Your driver’s license also may also be suspended, and you will have a permanent criminal record.
If you are convicted of a state drug crime, the penalty will depend upon the charge:
Up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
Up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
Up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500
Other penalties may include substance abuse treatment, random drug testing, community service requirements, negative effects on employment or military status, probation, parole and a permanent criminal record.
Also, according to Florida Statutes § 322.055, any drug conviction can result in an immediate suspension of your driver’s license for two years, or until the offender has been evaluated and completed drug treatment, if necessary, whether or not the charge was driving related.
Although a judge may reinstate an offender’s license for employment purposes, their license must be suspended for at least six months. If you are caught driving while your license is suspended, you could face additional penalties. A drug lawyer in Tallahassee can help to combat the penalties.
Options If You Have Been Charged With a Drug Offense
Your defense attorney may be able to find a defense to your charge, or other individual constitutional protections that may have been violated in order to have your charge dismissed or reduced. The decisions your attorney will advise you to make will depend on the circumstances in your particular case, prior convictions and other extenuating factors.
Your constitutional rights may have been violated if the officers conducted an unreasonable search and seizure. If a search of your home, car or person was illegally conducted by the police, your attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress.
A motion to suppress can be used if an illegal search resulted in evidence against you. Anything found in an illegal search is inadmissible, and a motion to suppress would preclude the prosecution from using this evidence against you. If the motion to suppress is successful, there may no longer be evidence against you, which could result in a dismissal of the charges.
The Constitution also offers protection against self-incrimination. If information was obtained from you in violation of this right, what you disclosed cannot be used against you by the prosecution. This frequently occurs where an officer fails to read someone his or her Miranda Warnings. If the information was necessary to the prosecution’s case, then your drug charges could be dismissed.
In possession cases, whether the charges are dismissed or reduced can heavily depend on the definition of possession in Florida, and whether possession was actual or constructive. Actual possession means the drug was actually on your body or person. Constructive possession involves knowing of the presence of the drugs, that they were illicit and having control or dominion over the drugs.
Your Tallahassee criminal attorney can file a motion to dismiss on your behalf prior to trial if, for example, there is not enough evidence to bring the drug charges against you.
Suppose an officer searches a car and finds a bag of marijuana on the floor. Both the driver and passenger refuse to answer any questions and deny knowing the controlled substance was in the car, but both are charged with possession of a controlled substance. Because neither were in actual or constructive possession, there is not enough evidence for a charge of possession of a controlled substance. In this situation, your attorney could file a motion to dismiss.
If an officer induced you into a drug crime you would not typically commit, your attorney can utilize an entrapment defense. Entrapment occurs if someone is persuaded to participate in criminal conduct by a law enforcement official or agent they would not have normally engaged in, and they committed the crime as a result of the inducement.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
SSDP is an international student organization dedicated to improving policies regarding drugs and minimizing the negative impact of drugs and the War on Drugs on students and youth.
Florida State University Chapter
Rachel Hoffman – A Drug War Tragedy
Article written by NORML Deputy Director, Paul Armentano, published by Cannabis Culture issue # 72 in Fall 2008. On May 7, 2008, 23-year-old Florida State University student, Rachel Hoffman, was killed in a botched police sting operation while working as a confidential informant for the Tallahassee Police Department. Rachel was busted for marijuana possession, threatened into becoming a police informant, then murdered during a bungled drug sting. After being threatened with jail time for pot and agreeing to work for authorities, police officers gave Rachel $13,000 in marked bills and arranged a buy of cocaine, ecstasy and a handgun. She was killed with the weapon she was supposed to buy and robbed of the police money.
Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association
FADAA is a non-profit organization representing drug abuse and treatment centers throughout Florida.
2868 Mahan Drive, Suite 1
Tallahassee, Florida 32308
NA is a non-profit organization designed for people who have a drug addiction to meet and support each other in order to stay drug-free. The website contains more information and where local meetings are held.
If you have been charged with a drug offense in Leon County, contact Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your particular situation. There may be defenses to your charge, and finding an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee who is familiar with Florida drug laws might be your best option to avoid severe punishment.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.