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Possession of Synthetic Drugs

Synthetic drugs often are not taken as seriously by the public as “hard” drugs, like cocaine or methamphetamine. However, these synthetic drugs, like spice, flakka, bath salts, and K2, are still illegal in the state of Florida, and can carry heavy penalties. Depending on the weight of the drugs, Florida Statute 893.13 provides that it is either a third-degree felony or first-degree misdemeanor to possess synthetic drugs. According to Florida Statutes 893.03, these synthetic drugs are classified as controlled substances. In recent years, Florida banned synthetic drugs, like synthetic marijuana, and classified them as Schedule I controlled substances since they produce highs similar to the “hard” drugs that they are modeled after. Though these drugs have recently become illegal and can bring harsh consequences to those who use them, the use of synthetic drugs in Florida is on the rise since they are usually more accessible to younger crowds and cheaper than the “hard” drugs they are modeled after. If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of synthetic drugs, contact an experienced drug defense lawyer in Tallahassee.

Penalties for Possession of Synthetic Drugs in Florida

If you are in possession of less than three grams of synthetic drugs, a conviction will result in:

  • A First-Degree Misdemeanor
    • Maximum of one year in the Department of Corrections
    • Maximum of one year probation or community control
    • Imposition of a $1,000 fine
    • One year driver’s license suspension

If you are in possession of more than three grams of synthetic drugs, a conviction will result in:

  • A Third-Degree Felony
    • Maximum of five years in the Department of Corrections
    • Maximum of five years probation or community control
    • Imposition of a $5,000 fine
    • One year driver’s license suspension

What Must the State Prove to Prove You are Guilty of Possession of Synthetic Drugs?

In order to prove that you or a loved one is guilty of possessing synthetic drugs in Florida, the State must prove these three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You or a loved one possessed a synthetic drug;
  2. The synthetic drug is in fact the synthetic drug the State alleged it to be; and
  3. You or a loved one had knowledge of the presence of the synthetic drug.

Under the “Definitions” section of Florida Statute Section 893.13’s jury instructions, “to prove (defendant) ‘possessed a substance,’ the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they (a) knew of the existence of the substance and (b) intentionally exercised control over that substance.” The jury instructions further provide that “Control can be exercised over a substance whether the substance is carried on a person, near a person, or in a completely separate location. Mere proximity to a substance does not establish that the person intentionally exercised control over the substance in the absence of additional evidence. Control can be established by proof that (defendant) had direct personal power to control the substance or the present ability to direct its control by another.” Additionally, the jury instructions provide that possession may be singular or “joint” meaning that “two or more persons … possess a substance.”

Defenses to Synthetic Drug Charges

The jury instructions provide for one affirmative defense to possession of synthetic drugs in Florida:

  • Lack of knowledge of illicit nature
  • Lack of knowledge of the illicit nature of a controlled substance is a defense to possession of synthetic drugs in Florida.

Other defenses to the charge of possession of synthetic drugs in Florida include:

If the police obtained the synthetic drugs from you or a loved one through an illegal search or seizure, the evidence obtained can usually be suppressed, meaning that the State cannot use the evidence during trial.

When the synthetic drugs are found by police in an area where multiple people had access, the State would have to prove their case under “constructive possession,” which obligates the State to prove the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. You or a loved one charged with the offense had knowledge of the synthetic drugs’ presence; and
  2. You or a loved one charged with the offense exercised dominion and control over the synthetic drugs.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a drug overdose requiring medical attention, you, or someone assisting you, may call for medical assistance without fear of prosecution. Florida allows immunity to those calling to help themselves or others in drug overdose situations if evidence was obtained as a direct result of the overdose and need for medical attention.

If you or a loved one only took temporary possession of synthetic drugs from the true owner, you or a loved one will not be considered to be in legal possession of the drugs because you or a loved one did not exercise complete dominion and control over the substances.

Tallahassee Drug Lawyer

Possession of synthetic drugs can bring many legal repercussions if convicted. If you or a loved one have been charged with possession of synthetic drugs in Florida, contact a Tallahassee drug attorney as soon as possible to explore your rights and options. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm are experienced in handling drug charges and will fight to make sure you are afforded a vigorous defense. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today for an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.

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