Over 100 Not Guilty Verdicts At Trial | Over 2,000 Dismissals

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Panama City Drug Charges

Drug charges carry severe implications in Panama City. From unlawful possession to drug trafficking, Florida law encompasses a spectrum of drug-related crimes that are each met with lasting repercussions. Depending on the drug and its quantity found in a person’s possession, a drug crime defendant in Bay County could be facing high-cost fines and decades behind bars.

While the consequences of getting convicted in the Fourteenth Judicial Court should not be overlooked, an individual facing drug charges can immensely benefit from the guidance of a defense attorney. A lawyer can review all the evidence against you, determine if the alleged substances were seized lawfully by police, and challenge every aspect that may help your case. In times like these, you want the defense team who will do whatever it takes to win back your future.

Lawyers for Criminal Defense in Panama City, FL

Have you recently been arrested for a suspected drug crime in Panama City? You should prioritize securing legal counsel if you are currently facing a potential trial. Attempting to navigate Florida’s legal landscape is complex, especially when dealing with the distinct types of drug charges and their resulting penalties. With the help of a lawyer, you can have knowledge and expertise on your side. Pumphrey Law Firm proudly represents those who need criminal defense for drug charges in North Florida. Contact our team for a free consultation by calling (850) 681-7777 today.

Florida Drug Schedule

To help distinguish between the various controlled substances, Florida legislators have created the Drug Schedule. Under Florida Statute Section 893.003, each controlled or chemical substance that is considered illegal in the state is listed. The list is broken into five different sections, from Schedule I to Schedule V:

  1. Schedule I Drugs: Considered to be the most dangerous substances, with the highest potential of abuse and no acknowledged medical use within the U.S. Examples include LSD, heroin, and cannabis.
  2. Schedule II Drugs: Considered a step below Schedule I substances, but still with a high potential for abuse and a low or limited accepted medical use in the U.S. Examples include methamphetamine, cocaine, and opium.
  3. Schedule III Drugs: Considered to still have some potential for abuse, but much less than Schedule I and II. Also has some accepted medical use in the U.S. Examples include anabolic steroids or hormonal substances promoting muscle growth.
  4. Schedule IV Drugs: Considered to have a low potential of abuse, along with the accepted medical use within the U.S. Examples include Xanax and Ambien.
  5. Schedule V Drugs: Considered to have the lowest potential for abuse and an accepted medical use within the U.S. Examples include cough medicine with low levels of codeine.

What Drug Charges are Common in Panama City?

According to data from FL Health Charts, Bay County had 2,253 counts of drug arrests in 2022.

Opioids like fentanyl have been an increasing concern in Panama City and the rest of Florida. A local report from 2020 addressed Panama City Police’s warning of the rise of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl. In 2022, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)’s Medical Examiners Commission Interim Drug Report indicated that fentanyl had the highest frequency of reported drug occurrences in Florida from January – June with 17.8%. Fentanyl also had the highest number of drug-caused deaths in Florida, with 2,744 deaths.

The following provides data from the Interim Drug Report specific to drug-related deaths in Panama City from January – June 2022:

  • Total deaths with fentanyl: 22
  • Deaths where fentanyl was present in system: 3
  • Deaths caused by fentanyl: 19
  • Total deaths with cocaine: 8
  • Deaths where cocaine was present in system: 2
  • Deaths caused by cocaine: 6
  • Total deaths with methamphetamine: 17
  • Deaths where methamphetamine was present in system: 4
  • Deaths caused by methamphetamine: 13

Pumphrey Law Firm represents clients in Panama City who need criminal defense for the following types of drug offenses:

  • Possession of a Controlled Substance When a person in Panama City is accused of having a controlled substance in their actual or constructive possession, which can mean either in their pocket or hidden in a safe in their room.
  • Possession with the Intent to Sell When a person in Panama City is accused of having a controlled substance in their actual or constructive possession that exceeds a certain threshold for law enforcement to reasonably believe that person intended to sell or distribute to another person.
  • Drug Manufacturing When a person in Panama City is accused of making or cultivating controlled substances. This can include the growing of marijuana plants or the chemical operation to make or process substances like cocaine or methamphetamine.
  • Drug Trafficking When a person in Panama City is accused of a large-scale drug operation which can relate to the manufacturing, transporting, and sale of controlled substances. A person can be accused of drug trafficking within the state, across multiple states, or across national borders. Drug trafficking is a criminal offense that can be prosecuted by both State and Federal law.
  • Illegal Possession of Prescription Pills When a person in Panama City is accused of having in their actual or constructive possession prescription pills that were not prescribed by a valid doctor.
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia When a person in Panama City is accused of having in their actual or constructive possession any item, equipment, or product that was designed or intended for the purpose of inhaling, ingesting, planting, growing, testing, packaging, concealing, or transporting controlled substances. This can include bongs, rolling papers, syringes, spoons, pipes, scales, or baggies. This is a criminal charge often accompanied by another drug charge, such as possession or possession with the intent to sell.
  • Possession of Marijuana When a person in Panama City is accused of possessing marijuana without a medical card. Florida has a somewhat confusing legal view on marijuana, since medical marijuana and hemp are both currently legal. A person can face criminal prosecution in Florida for simple possession and felony possession of marijuana.

If you were recently charged with a drug crime in Panama City, contact the lawyers with Pumphrey Law Firm. Our defense attorneys have years of experience representing those in need of criminal defense.

Penalties for Drug Crime Convictions

The penalties that come with a Panama City drug crime conviction will vary on several factors. First, the type of drug that is involved in the alleged crime. Depending on where the substance lies on the Drug Schedule helps to indicate the severity of the penalties. The other factor that is considered is the quantity of the controlled substance found in the defendant’s possession.

This brings up actual vs construction possession again. When a person is arrested for a suspected drug crime, anything on their person (such as in a pocket, in a wallet, or in their shoe) is considered actual possession. If police obtain a warrant to search the suspect’s home and find a large stash of controlled substances hidden under the bed, that would be considered constructive possession. In both instances, a suspect would be charged with a drug crime. For this defendant’s scenario, law enforcement would use the combined quantity of controlled substances found to determine the defendant’s penalties.

So, depending on the type of controlled substance and the quantity of controlled substance(s) found in the defendant’s possession, will help the prosecutor determine the appropriate charges and their resulting penalties. Criminal convictions in Panama City can result in the following penalties:

  • Second-degree misdemeanor: Up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail;
  • First-degree misdemeanor: Up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail;
  • Third-degree felony: Up to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison;
  • Second-degree felony: Up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison;
  • First-degree felony: Up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison;
  • Life felony: Up to a $15,000 fine and up to life imprisonment; and
  • Capital felony: Either life imprisonment or the death penalty.

In addition to the potential fines and incarceration, a person who is convicted of a drug offense can also be sentenced to probation, substance abuse treatment, random drug testing, and community service.

Under Florida Statute Section 332.055, a person who is convicted of a drug offense in Florida will have their driver’s license suspended for two years. An attorney with Pumphrey Law can assist in you obtaining a hardship license, which may be after a six-month suspension period.

Important: Certain drug crimes have mandatory minimum sentences. To view the mandatory minimum sentences, refer to our pages on Drug Trafficking and Drug Manufacturing.

Example Cases in Panama City

The following provides several example cases in Panama City, Florida:

  • October 2023 A press release by the 14th Judicial Circuit announced the conviction of three separate Bay County residents on drug charges. The three convictions included:
    • First defendant – Was charged with Trafficking in Amphetamine (200 grams or more), Transporting a Controlled Substance into the State, along with two misdemeanors. The Panama City Beach native entered an open plea of guilty and received a sentence of 17.5 years with the 15-year mandatory minimum sentence;
    • Second defendant – Was charged with Trafficking in Fentanyl, Possession of Amphetamine, Resisting an Arrest with Violence, and Possession of Paraphernalia. A Circuit Court Judge adjudicated the defendant guilty, resulting in a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years; and
    • Third defendant – Was charged with Trafficking in Fentanyl (between 14 and 28 grams). The defendant pleaded not guilty, and the case went to trial. The jury came to a verdict within 30 minutes, and the defendant was sentenced to 25 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 years.
  • October 2023 Bay County Sheriff’s Office seized nearly 29 grams of heroin obtained through a search warrant for a suspect’s house. The press release stated the defendant was charged with Trafficking in Heroin, exceeding the tracking threshold of 28 grams. Prior to a jury hearing the case, the State Attorney announced that the Circuit Court accepted a no contest plea and adjudicated the defendant guilty. The defendant received the mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison, along with a $500,000 fine.
  • December 2023 Panama City Police arrested five individuals after seizing a large amount of drugs from an investigation. The local report indicated that police first arrested a suspect that had 63 pills in their possession laced with fentanyl. Police then learned of a person on felony probation who was distributing pills. Investigators were able to purchase 250 fentanyl pills over multiple operations. After obtaining a search warrant for the same home, police seized another 720 fentanyl pills and $9,000 in cash. The investigation led police to a suspect in Atlanta, who had been distributing the pills down to Panama City. The undercover investigators agreed to purchase a delivery of 500 M30 pills from the suspect in Atlanta. Once the delivery arrived in Panama City, police conducted a traffic stop and seized the fentanyl-laced pills, along with additional pills in the driver’s possession. Collectively, officers found that the seized fentanyl included around 166,000 lethal doses of the drug. Among the five people arrested, they are now facing over 100 years in Florida prison.

Bay County Drug Court

Panama City and the rest of Bay County are in the Fourteenth Judicial District. Provided on the official site, the Bay County Drug Court is a three-phase program offered to certain offenders who are in the court system and have a substance abuse addiction. The program is aimed to focus on a defendant’s behaviors that need change and make every opportunity available to them. Drug courts focus on social services and administer graduated sanctions as an alternative to additional criminal charges. The goal of the Drug Court is to rehabilitate drug offenders and to prevent recidivism.

Examples of Bay County’s frequently used requirements for Drug Court eligibility include:

  • Non-violent drug offenses (possession, charges for purchasing drugs);
  • Demonstrated substance abuse problems;
  • Willingness to participate in treatment; and
  • Limited criminal history.

Contact Pumphrey Law Firm if you have questions regarding Drug Court and whether you may be eligible.

Potential Defenses to a Drug Charge

Dealing with the reality of a drug charge can be daunting, but with the right legal representation, you may be able to get your Panama City drug crime lowered to a less severe charge or dismissed completely. Potential defenses that may be available to individuals accused of drug-related offenses include:

  • Insufficient evidence – In any criminal case, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. If there is insufficient evidence against a defense accused of a drug charge, a defense attorney can argue to have the charges dismissed.
  • Prescription validity – A person in Panama City accused of a drug crime relating to prescription pills can have their defense counsel argue that the medicine found in their possession was lawfully prescribed by a doctor.
  • Challenge the search and seizure process – A drug case where police seized controlled substances without a warrant or failed to follow the proper procedures when obtaining evidence can potentially result in the evidence being inadmissible in court. A defense attorney can challenge the process made by law enforcement to aim to get the evidence suppressed or the charges dismissed.
  • Entrapment In a scenario where law enforcement has convinced a person to commit a criminal act that they wouldn’t normally do, it may be considered entrapment. An attorney can help prove that the defendant was entrapped.
  • Lack of Knowledge – A defense lawyer can argue for a defendant who lacked the knowledge of a controlled substance’s presence. For example, if two people lived together and law enforcement attempted to charge them both with drug trafficking for the stashed substances they found in the yard, a lawyer could help prove the other person’s ignorance of the act.

There may be other defense strategies available to you. Contact the experienced lawyers with Pumphrey Law to find out what defenses can be used for your case.

Contact an Experienced Drug Defense Attorney in Panama City, FL

Drug charges are taken very seriously in Florida. Law enforcement takes significant measures when it comes to suspected drug offenses, such as conducting stings or undercover operations. Whatever drug charge you’ve been accused of, just know that there is a way out. By hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Panama City, FL, you receive the benefit of collaborating with a professional who understands Florida’s laws.

Pumphrey Law Firm has decades of combined experience working to defend those across the state of Florida who have been accused of a crime. We understand the position you’re in and the stress you may feel. Our goal is to ease your anxiety and provide you with legal insight and a team who is going to aggressively fight for your freedom. Contact our firm today to receive a free consultation to go over your case. Call us at (850) 681-7777 or leave a message online.

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