Introduction to drug laws in Florida

The “war on drugs” started several years ago. Since its inception, drug laws have gotten more and more encompassing for many types of substances. Depending on the State, the penalties may be very strict or very lenient. Florida is one of several states in the U.S. with strict drug laws. The drug laws get tougher and tougher every year. These laws are found in chapter 893 of the Florida statutes.

Chapter 893 sets out the list of “controlled substances” under the law. These controlled substances are the drugs that are considered to be “illegal.” Some of the drugs are only illegal if you do not possess a prescription. Others are illegal period. Chapter 893 also sets out the proposed penalties for a conviction. The chapter is quite long and contains several laws and several penalties including:

  • Mandatory Minimum sentences
  • Drivers license suspensions
  • Large fines and
  • Property Forfeitures

These sanctions are in addition to the regular punishments such as probation, community control, jail sentences and prison sanctions.

Although there are several drug crimes that are recognized in Florida, the most common involve:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin and Methadone
  • Methamphetamine
  • Pills (such as Xanax and Oxycodone) and
  • Designer drugs (such as K2 and Spice)
  • Possession of Paraphernalia related to any controlled substance or illegal drug is also a crime.

There are four basic categories of offenses for drug crimes. Depending on the level with which you are charged, the punishment may be minimal or quite severe.

  • Paraphernalia

    • Paraphernalia is the term that describes the items used to smoke, inhale, ingest, grow, store or inject a controlled substance. The most common types of paraphernalia are pipes, needles, brillo, rolling papers and scales. But any item associated with drug use or storage can be considered paraphernalia.
  • Simple Possession

    • Simple possession cases involve small amounts of drug possession for personal use. Possession of even a small amount of a controlled substance can be a felony offense punishable by up to five years in a Florida State prison.
  • Possession With Intent to Sell, Deliver or Distribute

    • If you possess a controlled substance and you are selling it, delivering it, or giving it to another person to sell, you can be charged with possession with intent. Possessing large amounts of controlled substances can also be charged as possession with intent to sell, deliver or distribute even if the large amount you possess is for personal use.

  • Trafficking

    • When a person has excessive quantities of any controlled substance it is considered trafficking. Trafficking is similar to possession with intent to sell, deliver or distribute, but is considered much more severe or serious. There are minimum mandatory prison sentences for any trafficking conviction.

In most cases, the severity of the drug charge in Florida is governed by the weight of the substance you possess. Under Florida Statute 893.135(6) the weight is the total of the amount of the controlled substance and any mixing agents combined! This means you can have a small amount of the actual drug in your possession, but if there is a large amount of something else mixed in with it, the weight can push you over to a more serious charge.

For example: A person is caught with some oxycodone pills. The pills are taken apart and analyzed. After the pills are analyzed, the weight of the oxycodone drug found in the pills is 1 gram. But the pills also contained aspirin as a mixing agent. So the portion of the pill that was aspirin mixed with the oxycodone in the pills is 3 grams. You will be charged with possessing 4 grams of a controlled substance. Not the 1 gram of actual oxycodone.

This formula can make the difference between probation and a three year minimum mandatory sentence!!! It is just one example of how serious the drug charges in Florida can really be.

Medical Marijuana

It is not a crime to possess your own prescription medication. However, at this time medical marijuana is NOT legal or recognized in the State of Florida!!! This means that you can be arrested for marijuana possession in Florida even if you are using it for a medical condition. If you have a prescription from another state, make sure you check with your provider before bringing it to Florida as you will be arrested and charged with a crime.

What do you do if you are charged with a drug crime in Florida?

No matter how small the amount of drug or what type of drug you are accused of possessing, drug charges in Florida are very serious!! Even possession of a misdemeanor amount of drug can result in a two year revocation of your license and one year in the county jail. Possession of larger amounts of drugs can result in the government initiating proceedings to take your property such as your house, money or car. If you have been arrested for any type of drug crime you need to contact an experienced attorney immediately! At the law offices of Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins, our attorneys possess over 20 years of combined experience in criminal defense. Our aggressive and tenacious attorneys are available 24/7 to consult with you about how we can craft the best defense for you and your situation. Call us now at (888) 424-7777. Let our attorneys work for you and fight your case today!