Drug Charge Defense Attorney in Jacksonville and Duval County
If you or someone you care about has been accused of any crime involving drugs it is crucial to contact a knowledgeable drug crimes lawyer to assist with the case as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Florida law has extremely serious penalties to levy against those who possess even the smallest volume of drugs.
The legal team of Lockett Law, P.A., has a wealth of experience handling all types of Jacksonville criminal defense matters, including drug charges. Led by attorney Lee Lockett, our criminal defense team is steadfast in defense of our clients as we work toward the best possible resolution.
Potential Drug Charges in Florida
Drug charges in Florida can be charged at the state or Federal level, but most of the time the State handles all but the most serious of offenses. This includes a variety of charges, from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Criminal charges arising at the state level come from the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, or Florida Statutes § 893.13. Drug crimes are charged at a variety of levels and severity, usually based on the volume of drugs the government is alleging to have been possessed. Most drug charges are one of the following:
- Possession of a Controlled Substance
This is simply possession of a drug. The severity of penalties faced will be based on how dangerous the drug is, how much of the drug is in the accused’s possession, and other circumstances surrounding the contact by police.
- Possession of Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs are perfectly legal to possess, with the proper prescription. Possession without that authorization can lead to serious criminal penalties.
- Possession with Intent to Sell
Similar to possession of a controlled substance, this charge is influenced heavily by the type of drug and the amount. Penalties are increased though, because the state charges this when there is a belief that the accused actually meant to distribute or sell those drugs to others. That belief can stem from possession of baggies, scales, act of selling, or the amount by itself.
This is the higher-level version of distribution. If the state charges a person simply selling drugs to those around them with possession with intent to distribute, the person selling the bulk quantities would be charged with trafficking. It is very common for this charge to be filed at the Federal level after crossing state lines. Florida does have its own trafficking law though and makes use of those to threaten substantial prison sentences. Furthermore, in Florida, some substances can be charged as trafficking just for being in possession of a certain quantity (some of which are not even that large).
- Marijuana Possession
In 2017 Florida Statutes 381.986 became law, authorizing the use of medical marijuana. Enforcement of marijuana laws has dropped off considerably as legal versions of the drug flood the market. It’s still illegal to possess marijuana without a prescription though. Possession without following the rules laid out under Florida law can still result in jail, or even prison.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Possessing the instruments used to smoke, snort or inject drugs can carry criminal penalties, less severe than possession charges, but still with the possibility of life-altering consequences.
Penalties for Drug Possession Charges in Florida
Penalties for drug charges our outlined in Florida Statutes § 893.13. These charges range from low-level second degree misdemeanors, all the way up to first degree felonies.
Possession of any drug other than marijuana, in violation of the law, is an automatic felony, carrying up to 5 years, the possibility of probation, and a permanent record. State drug crime penalties are:
- First-Degree Felony
Up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Second-Degree Felony
Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
- Third-Degree Felony
Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000
- First-Degree Misdemeanor
Up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor
Up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500
A conviction will also likely require some period of probation. Probation for a drug offense usually means mandatory treatment, monitored sobriety, and any other requirements the judge deems to be fit. In addition to the direct penalties, any conviction can also mean a suspension of your driver’s license for two years, or until completion of drug treatment.
What Drugs are Illegal in Florida?
Controlled substances range from one (I) to five (V) The determination is made based on potential for abuse, medical use, and the results of that abuse. These schedules are outlined in Florida Statutes § 893.03, these definitions and some popular examples are:
- Schedule I – A substance in Schedule I has a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and in its use under medical supervision does not meet accepted safety standards.
- Heroin – Dope, Smack, Brown, Junk, Black, Black Tar, Brown Sugar, Dope Dragon, Chiva
- MDMA – Ecstasy, Molly, Candy, Dancing Shoes, Lover’s Speed, Vitamin E
- Schedule II – A substance in Schedule II has a high potential for abuse and has a currently accepted but severely restricted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
- Cocaine – Blow, Bump, Coke, Crack, Dust, Snow, Sniff
- Crack Cocaine – Candy, Rocks, Sleet, Cookies, Dice,
- Fentanyl – Actiq, Dragesic, Sublimaze, Alpha-Methylfentanyl, China Girl, China White or Apache
- Methamphetamine – Meth, Speed, Crank, Ice, Chalk, Gak
- Hydrocodone – Lortab, Norco, Vicodin
- Schedule III – A substance in Schedule III has a potential for abuse less than the substances contained in Schedules I and II and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence or, in the case of anabolic steroids, may lead to physical damage.
- Codeine – Purple Drank, Syrup, Sizzurp
- Ketamine – Special K, Vitamin K, K-Hold, Jet
- Testosterone (Anabolic Steroids) – Gear, Test, Nandrolone, Juice, Roids, Dianobol (Dbol), Var, Winny, Anavar, Clen, Trenbolone (Tren)
- Schedule IV – A substance in Schedule IV has a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule III and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of the substance may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence relative to the substances in Schedule III.
- Alprazolam – Xanex, Bars, Xanies, Z-Bars
- Tramadol – Ultram, Trammies
- Zolpidem – Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata, Roofinol, Roofie, Forget-Me Pill
- Schedule V – A substance, compound, mixture, or preparation of a substance in Schedule V has a low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule IV and has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and abuse of such compound, mixture, or preparation may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence relative to the substances in Schedule IV.
Possible Defenses for Drug Crimes in Jacksonville, Florida
A qualified Jacksonville Criminal Defense Attorney can coordinate the best possible defenses available to you and fight for your rights.
- Constitutional Challenges – Possession charges almost always arise because the police somehow discover the drugs. This sounds like a really obvious point to make, but it’s important, because the method of this discovery opens up the government to challenges to police conduct. The Constitution protects us from unlawful searches, seizures, and interrogations. Police stepping over these lines often results in a dismissed case for the accused.
- Factual Challenges – This means literally challenging the truth of the allegations, in a drug case, this can mean a few things:
- Drug Challenge – The substance possessed could be something different than what is being alleged, you could have a prescription for it, or the amount could be so mismeasured that the offense should actually be a less serious one
- Mistaken Identity – There are many ways a person can be wrongfully accused, or accused without enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt someone else wasn’t responsible
- Possession – Possession can be established through actual or constructive possession, but many challenges center around showing that neither can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the state
- Actual possession – the contraband is physically on the accused
- Constructive possession – the accused knew drugs were close by and had actual control or dominion over them
Jacksonville Drug Defense Lawyer
The Legal Team at Lockett Law fights for the rights of the accused across the greater Jacksonville area, from Fernandina Beach to St. Augustine and from Atlantic Beach to Middleburg. If you or someone you love has been charged with a drug crime in Northeast Florida, contact us at (904) 858-9818 to setup your free consultation today