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first time possession charges

First Time Drug Possession Charges in Florida

Being charged with drug possession can be an overwhelming experience, especially if it’s your first time. Florida has strict drug laws, and it’s important to understand the consequences of drug charges.

Below, we’ll answer some common questions about first-time drug possession charges in Florida to help you navigate this difficult situation. 

What Is Considered a Controlled Substance in Florida?

Controlled substances are drugs that the government has decided to regulate due to their potential for abuse and addiction. In Florida, controlled substances are categorized into five schedules based on their potential for abuse, medical value, and likelihood of dependence. Schedule I is the most dangerous category, while Schedule V is the least dangerous.

  • Schedule I—drugs with a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use, such as heroin, marijuana, and LSD.
  • Schedule II—drugs with a high potential for abuse but some currently accepted medical use, such as oxycodone, fentanyl, and cocaine.
  • Schedule III—drugs with a moderate potential for abuse and some currently accepted medical use, such as codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.
  • Schedule IV—drugs with a low potential for abuse and some currently accepted medical use, such as Valium, Xanax, and Ambien.
  • Schedule V—drugs with a low potential for abuse and some currently accepted medical use, such as cough syrups with low concentrations of codeine and over-the-counter antihistamines.

Florida’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act regulates controlled substances and establishes penalties for their possession, manufacturing, and distribution. Generally, it is illegal to possess a controlled substance unless you have a valid prescription from a doctor.

What Are the Penalties for a First-time Possession Charge in Florida?

First-time drug possession penalties in Florida vary depending on the type and quantity of drugs involved, as well as your criminal history. A first-time drug possession charge can range from a misdemeanor, which can result in up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine, to a third-degree felony, which can result in up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The penalties for first-time drug possession charges in Florida are outlined below:

  • Possession of controlled substances. First-time possession of small amounts of controlled substances, such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Possession of larger amounts of these drugs is considered drug trafficking, a serious felony with harsher penalties.
  • Possession of prescription drugs. First-time possession of prescription drugs without a prescription is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.

These are just the maximum penalties for first-time drug possession charges in Florida. In many cases, defendants will receive a lighter sentence, such as probation or drug diversion programs. When facing drug possession charges in Florida, it’s vital to consult with an attorney to understand potential penalties and develop a defense strategy.

What Is the Penalty for a 1st-Time Offense of Possession of Weed in Florida?

Florida has not decriminalized recreational marijuana like other states. You can get a medical marijuana card and possess the substance legally. But if you don’t have a prescription, possession of weed is still illegal in Florida.

If caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana for the first time without a prescription, it is considered a misdemeanor. This offense is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a felony in Florida, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go To Jail?

A judge must weigh several factors when deciding whether or not to send a person to jail. Here are just some of the factors judges must consider:

  • The type of charges; 
  • The prior criminal history of the accused;
  • Whether the prosecution alleges aggravating factors; and
  • Whether the law requires the judge to impose a minimum-mandatory sentence.

Due to the state’s strict drug laws, even a first-time possession charge in Florida could result in jail time. However, not all first-time offenders charged with drug possession have to go to jail.

Having a trusted lawyer by your side gives you the best chance of staying out of jail and getting a just resolution to your case.

What Should I Do If I’m Charged with First-Time Drug Possession?

If you’re charged with first-time drug possession, the most important thing to do is to stay calm and don’t talk to the police without an attorney. Contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and get legal advice. A lawyer can help you understand your options and work to get the best possible outcome for your case. They may be able to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. 

What Defenses Are Available Against a First-Time Drug Possession Charge in Florida?

If you’re facing a first-time drug possession charge in Florida, there are several defenses that you may be able to use to beat your case.

  • Lack of knowledge. You may be able to argue that you did not know that the substance you had was a controlled substance. This defense is often used when someone has accidentally taken possession of a drug, such as if they were given a drink that they did not know contained drugs.
  • Illegal search and seizure. If the police illegally searched you or your property and found drugs, the prosecution will not be able to use the evidence at trial and your case may be dismissed. This is because the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • Entrapment. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials persuade someone to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. If you were entrapped into possessing drugs, your case may be dismissed.
  • Lack of possession. You may be able to argue that you were not actually in possession of the drugs. This defense is often used when the drugs were found in a car or other vehicle that you were in, but you did not have exclusive control over the vehicle.
  • Valid prescription. If you have a valid prescription for your controlled substance, you will not be charged with a crime. However, you may still be charged with a crime if you do not follow your prescription’s terms.

Remember, these are just general examples, and the specific defenses applicable to your case will depend on the circumstances of your arrest and the exact charges you face. These defenses can be complex and require legal expertise, so it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your specific situation.

Moses and Rooth: Criminal Defense Lawyers Dedicated to Serving You

At Moses and Rooth, as former state prosecutors, we have handled hundreds of drug cases over our combined 30 years of practice. With this experience, we can skillfully present your defense and give you the best chance for a successful outcome on your first possession charge. Call us today or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation and defend your rights.

Author Photo

Jay R. Rooth

Jay is an experienced and dedicated attorney. Whether you need help with a DUI or a more serious felony, Jay is ready to fight for you. Not only is Jay highly regarded by his peers, he’s also strongly recommended by his clients. Jay obtained his Law degree from Barry University Law School. Jay is a active member of the Orlando Chamber of Commerce, the Federalist Society, Florida Bar Association, the Orange County Bar Association, the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.

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