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Drug Possession Laws in the State of Florida

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: In case you are caught with medicine in your possession in the State of Florida, you will get into critical authorized hassle. As a result of of Florida’s prime location for drug trafficking, its Drug Laws are amongst the most rigorous in the entire nation, posing extreme penalties for minimal quantities. This text critiques the authorized course of, potential penalties, and what you are able to do to defend your self.

ESTIMATED READING TIME: Lower than 10 minutes.


Primary Definitions

In Florida, drug possession outlined as holding a substance for private use. In different phrases, “drug possession” is seen as an offense dedicated by somebody who didn’t manufacture, distribute, or promote the managed substance. Florida regulation acknowledges two varieties of drug possession:

1. Precise possession of an unlawful drug happens when the managed substance is in the defendant’s bodily custody and is discovered in a pants pocket, backpack, in hand, and so forth.

2. Constructive possession exists when the defendant doesn’t have precise bodily possession of the managed substance, however has information about its location and has the means to entry or management the substance.

Dealing with drug possession? Various sentencing that features habit remedy may result in dropped costs. Name us at this time to study extra.

Particular Laws

Chapter 893 of the Florida State Statutes refers to drug abuse:


Part 893.03 lists managed substances in 5 schedules:


Part 893.13 addresses unlawful acts involving managed substances (“drugs”):


Part 948.08 regulates the Pretrial intervention program:


Once you’re arrested for drug possession, contemplate drug rehab. Drug courts supply various sentencing and a clear document upon profitable completion of habit remedy.

The Authorized Course of in Florida

1. Arrest: Regulation Enforcement makes an arrest based mostly upon the witnesses info. After arrest, most individuals are entitled to a bond.

2. First Look: This can be a listening to held inside the first 24 hours of the arrest.

three. Submitting Determination: Throughout this half of the course of, an Assistant State Lawyer evaluations the case info, interviews, and so on. and makes a charging choice. If the case shouldn’t be filed, a “No Information Notice” is filed and the Defendant is launched from custody if nonetheless in jail. All expenses are dropped.

four. Arraignment: Inside two weeks of the charging determination, the defendant goes to courtroom and enters a plea of responsible or not responsible. Right now, the case is about for Trial. Subpoenas exit to all the witnesses listed. Victims have the proper to be current at arraignment; nevertheless their presence is just not required.

5. Depositions: This can be a method the place the State and Protection study the case. Florida regulation permits the Protection to interview witnesses earlier than trial. In case you are referred to as as a witness, you’ll obtain a subpoena and can be sworn previous to the deposition earlier than an official courtroom reporter. The Defendant won’t be current.

6. Plea: A plea could also be provided by the State to the Defendant. You’ll obtain notification by telephone or mail. Many instances are settled with out witnesses having to go to trial.

7. Standing Convention: This can be a listening to held to advise the courtroom if the Protection is able to go to Trial.

eight. Pre-Trial Convention: A listening to held two weeks earlier than the trial.

9. Continuances: The State will attempt instances as shortly as potential. Nevertheless, there are sometimes circumstances that can’t be managed which make continuance crucial

10. Trial: A Trial is held when witnesses are wanted in courtroom. Trials are usually held inside 175 days of the arrest for a felony (referred to as Speedy Trial). A Trial is generally held inside 90 days for a misdemeanor or visitors case.

11. Sentencing: As soon as the defendant is discovered responsible or not responsible or enters a plea at trial, the Decide can set the case for sentencing. Victims shall be notified by telephone or mail about this date.

For extra info, you’ll be able to contact your Florida area’s State Lawyer Workplace. An inventory of all 20 Florida State Lawyer Workplaces may be discovered right here.

Burden of Proof

Florida’s Laws state that possession of medicine (even with out intent to promote) are sometimes handled as a third-degree felony. Nevertheless, in order to have the ability to convict you of drug possession, the prosecutor should set up the following parts past an inexpensive doubt:

1. LEGALITY. The prosecutor should current proof that the materials seized from the defendant’s possession is an unlawful and managed substance underneath Florida regulation.

2. KNOWLEDGE. The prosecutor should show that the defendant truly knew or ought to have recognized about the unlawful nature of the managed substance and its presence.

three. CONTROL. The prosecutor should show that the defendant had management over the managed substance, together with its location and presence.


Q: So, how do courts punish drug possession in the Sunshine State?

A: To be trustworthy, drug sentencing is somewhat strict.

The legal guidelines associated to non-public use of medicine in the State of Florida are categorized as felonies and are divided into three levels. For instance, a cost of drug possession is usually a first, a second, or a 3rd diploma felony. A felony is a criminal offense carrying a penalty of potential incarceration in a state jail facility. Probably the most critical possession offense is felony possession of the first diploma, and this felony holds the harshest sentences.

All different costs for possession could be filed as a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor offense is outlined by Florida Regulation as offenses punishable by a most sentence of incarceration of as much as one yr in county jail.

See definitions of these classes in the misdemeanor and felony sections under. Additionally, see the part on various sentencing for extra info on leniency in instances of drug dependence, habit, or psychological sickness.

Misdemeanor Possession

Misdemeanors are crimes which might be often deemed much less critical than felonies, and thus, have much less extreme penalties. They’re often outlined as a criminal offense which is punishable by as much as a yr in jail time.

The penalties for misdemeanor drug possession might end result in a small fantastic, courtroom mandated drug counseling, group service, and probation.

First Diploma Misdemeanor Possession:

 Possession of drug paraphernalia.

  • As much as 20 grams of marijuana (apart from legally possessed medical marijuana)
  • A misdemeanor offender with a minimum of four priors is topic to enhanced penalties.

SENTENCE: As much as 1 yr jail time, and a nice as giant as $1,000. These with at the very least four prior convictions could also be sentenced to 1 yr jail time, obligatory remedy, or house detention as much as a yr.

NOTE HERE: Underneath Florida regulation, possession or use of Drug Paraphernalia is assessed as First Diploma Misdemeanor, with penalties which will embrace as much as 1 yr jail time or probation, and a $1,000 positive. “Drug Paraphernalia” is outlined as any object or materials meant for manufacturing, use or processing of a managed substance. It consists of any merchandise that can be utilized in reference to unlawful medicine. It may be divided into two fundamental classes: these used to distribute medicine and people used to ingest medicine.

Some of the following objects are particularly listed as drug paraphernalia underneath federal regulation:

  • Freebase cocaine kits, or paraphernalia used to smoke cocaine.
  • Miniature spoons used for snorting cocaine.
  • Pipes made of glass, wooden, stone, plastic, or ceramic
  • Roach clips, or objects used to carry burning supplies like joints.
  • Water pipes, bongs, and pipes made of clay.

Felony Possession

Felonies are the most critical varieties of crimes that may be dedicated inside the authorized system. They embrace giant fines and prolonged jail sentences. Florida subdivides felonies into three levels. Felony possession of the first diploma is the most critical and has the strictest penalties.

Third Diploma Felony Possession: The definition for this cost consists of the following medicine and their quantities:

  • 20+ grams of marijuana (apart from legally possessed medical marijuana)
  • As much as 28 grams of cocaine
  • As much as 10 grams of ecstasy (MDMA)
  • As much as 1 gram of LSD
  • As much as four grams of heroin/opiate

SENTENCE: As much as 5 years in jail.

Second Diploma Felony Possession: This definition consists of possession of chemical compounds used to fabricate medicine resembling ecstasy, meth, and acid.

SENTENCE: As much as 15 years in jail, and fines as excessive as $10,000.

First Diploma Felony Possession: The definition for this cost consists of the following medicine and their quantities:

  • Greater than 25 lbs marijuana
  • Greater than 28 grams of cocaine
  • Greater than 10 grams of ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Greater than 1 grams LSD
  • Greater than four grams of heroin/opiate.

SENTENCE: As much as 30 years in jail, and as much as $250,000 in fines, relying on the sort of drug and quantities.

Drug Schedules

Florida divides managed substances into 5 “schedules,” in accordance with their probability for abuse. There are actually tons of of attainable medicine that fall into these schedules. For extra info, please seek the advice of the 2014 Florida Statutes for the most up-to-date definitions.

Schedule I. These are medicine which have a excessive potential for abuse and haven’t any accepted medical use.

Schedule II. These drug are contemplate to have a excessive potential for abuse, have an accepted medical use with extreme restrictions, and their abuse has the potential for extreme psychic and bodily dependence.

Schedule III. This consists of medicine which have much less of a possible for abuse than Schedule I or II medicine, have an accepted medical use, and their abuse might result in low or average bodily dependence and excessive psychological dependence.

Schedule IV. These medicine are thought to have even decrease potential for abuse than Schedule III medicine, have a suitable medical use, and their abuse might result in restricted psychological and bodily dependence in relation to Schedule III medicine.

Schedule V. People who have low potential for abuse relative to the substances in Schedule IV and has a presently accepted medical use, and have a restricted danger of bodily or psychological dependence relative to substances Schedule IV. Schedule V medicine embrace medicines that include very small quantities of specified narcotic medicine.

Different Penalties

Inside the system, a number of drug convictions or different felony convictions may result in extra harsh penalties. Additionally, in case you are caught with prescribed drugs which aren’t prescribed to you, you possibly can face many sentences listed above, but in addition, you would face expenses together with fraud. Drug possession convictions in the State of Florida could also be accompanied by different penalties, similar to:

  • Incapability to acquire a state license or certification.
  • Lack of ability to qualify for public housing.
  • Lack of ability to acquire sure employment.
  • Ineligibility for some varieties of authorities employment.
  • Ineligibility for sure school scholarship or monetary assist.
  • Probation.
  • Suspension of a driving license.

Upon profitable completion of Drug Courtroom, costs will probably be dropped.

Sentencing Options

There are a couple of authorized lodging that courts make in instances of drug dependence, habit, or psychological sickness. Sometimes, resolving a drug possession case is decided by evaluating:

  • The individual’s wants.
  • The precise legal guidelines which apply to the cost(s).
  • The individual’s guilt or innocence.

In Florida, there are a number of sentencing options obtainable to an individual accused of a drug possession cost. These embrace the following authorized arguments made at particular levels in the course of:

1. You’ll be able to request a Pretrial Diversion.

A Pretrial Diversion is a program run by ­­the State Lawyer’s Workplace and is often reserved for first time, nonviolent offenders. This system is just like probation, in that when you’re accepted, you will need to report month-to-month to a supervising officer, bear random drug testing, full group service hours, and chorus from felony exercise. Drug possession costs are dropped upon profitable completion of Pretrial Diversion.

2. You’ll be able to request a Pretrial Intervention.

A Pretrial Intervention is managed by the Courtroom. This course of is extra tolerant in that you simply shouldn’t have to have a spotless report in order to qualify. This system is just like probation. For instance, you should report back to the Courtroom regularly, undergo a drug habit evaluation/analysis, take part in drug remedy, adjust to any particular necessities ordered by the Courtroom, and chorus legal exercise. Drug possession costs are dropped upon profitable completion of Pretrial Intervention.

three. You possibly can request to be seen in Drug Courtroom.

The Florida State Drug Courtroom is a diversionary program created to deal with the difficulty of repeat drug offenders. This system offers for the identification, analysis, case administration and placement of substance abusing offenders in order to keep away from getting into the formal legal justice system. Throughout every case, the Drug Courtroom Decide critiques progress stories on every participant. Incidents of noncompliance are reported instantly to the Drug Courtroom Decide, together with suggestions as to penalties to be imposed. Upon profitable completion of Drug Courtroom, expenses will probably be dropped.

four. You possibly can request a “Motion to Suppress.”

This authorized process is a request to have proof excluded as a result of it was illegally obtained. A Movement to Suppress can resolve the case and outcome in your case’s dismissal. How? Drug arrests are often based mostly on police hunches, extended (and thus unlawful) encounters, and unreliable info. Every case ought to be reviewed individually in order that an lawyer can completely analyze the specific details to find out if a Movement to Suppress would resolve the case, or not.

5. You’ll be able to instantly submit a Plea.

Many individuals need to keep away from drug remedy or moved ahead with as little supervision as potential. For these individuals, it may be greatest to barter minimal probation with out drug remedy or testing. Nevertheless, random drug testing often comes as a regular situation of probation.

6. You possibly can go to Trial.

Not all individuals arrested for drug offense are responsible and lots of occasions a trial to find out one’s guilt or innocence is the greatest technique to resolve the case.

When to Contact a Lawyer

We propose that you simply contemplate authorized assist upon arrest. Being charged with drug possession might be demanding, overwhelming and terrifying. Every case has its personal distinctive traits. However a educated lawyer will help you get organized and greatest put together for what’s subsequent.

So, what are you able to anticipate if you search authorized assist?

Most regulation workplaces supply free preliminary authorized consultations. An skilled lawyer cannot solely cope with the legal fees, but in addition deal with the sealing of your data. Amongst a number of key elements, the lawyer ought to examine and contemplate whether or not your rights have been violated and whether or not the parts of drug possession have been met.

What for those who can’t afford a personal lawyer?

In case you can’t afford a lawyer and qualify for a public defender, you shouldn’t flip that down. Principally, you get a free lawyer to give you a authorized recommendation. Additionally, there’s a digital authorized recommendation clinic hosted by the American Bar Affiliation. Qualifying customers submit their civil authorized questions and volunteer attorneys reply by way of e-mail.

You’ll be able to ask your authorized query by way of Free Authorized Solutions on the following hyperlink: https://florida.freelegalanswers.org/

How one can Discover a Lawyer in Florida

Earlier than hiring a lawyer, do some additional analysis. Make certain that the individual is licensed. See what different shoppers need to say. And, take a look at her/his web site. The next are some fast methods to examine whether or not your lawyer is legit:

1. Verify the Lawyer’s State Bar Profile. Each lawyer who’s licensed to follow regulation have to be listed in the Bar Affiliation’s Listing of your state, The Florida Bar. Search the listing and ensure that s/he’s at present licensed to follow regulation.

2. Google the Lawyer. It might take a while till you discover one thing helpful, however the serps ought to reveal publications, information tales or web sites associated to your lawyer.

three. Search Yelp. You may as well get info in your potential lawyer by checking her/his Yelp profile. Nevertheless, Yelp critiques are unverifiable, so don’t interpret them actually.

four. Go to the Lawyer’s Web site. That is the place the place you’ll be able to study whether or not your potential lawyer provides free authorized consultations. You can even discover testimonials, publications, and different info. Take a look at if s/he has knowledgeable design and is consumer pleasant. These are good indicators.

5. Hunt down different Third-Celebration Score Teams. These are like enterprise directories that fee professionals. One instance of that is Tremendous Legal professionals, a score service.

Your Questions

We have now tried to collect as a lot details about as attainable in one place. In reality, we hope that this text has answered most of your questions/considerations associated to drug possession in Florida.

Nonetheless have extra questions?

In case you could have further questions/feedback, be happy to submit them in the feedback part under. If we have no idea the reply to your specific query, we’ll gladly refer you to somebody who will help.

Reference Sources:
2011 Florida Statutes, Chapter 893, Drug Abuse Prevention and Management:
2018 Florida Statutes, Chapter 893, Part 13, Prohibited Acts; Penalties: