You’re standing on the street corner, minding your own affairs, when an acquaintance comes up to you and asks you to hold an envelope for him while he steps inside a store to use the bathroom. You say yes because you’re a friendly guy, but then a dozen police officers surround you with their guns drawn and demand you lay face flat on the ground and cross your hands behind your back.
Rights are read, a ride is taken in the back of a squad car, mug shots, fingerprints, an orange jumpsuit and soon you are in jail, charged with possession of an illegal narcotic.
What kind of trouble might you be in?
Depending on the type and amount of the drug, you might be in really big trouble.
Drug possession is defined as being a person who did not manufacture, distribute or sell and controlled substance but only held it for personal use. Possession crimes are usually tried in Florida as third-degree felonies, although possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana can be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor.
- The accused had knowledge of the drug
- The substance is actually a controlled substance
- The accused actually had control of the drug
The accused must have shown great care, custody, control or management of the drug in order to be charged with possession.
Schedules of drugs and punishments
Florida divides drugs into five “schedules”:
- Schedule One drugs have a very high potential for abuse, such as heroin
- Schedule Two drugs have a high potential for abuse but not as high as Schedule One drugs and have medical use, such as morphine and opium
- Schedule Three drugs have some potential for abuse and have accepted medical uses, such as anabolic steroids
- Schedule Four drugs have a reasonably low potential for abuse and have accepted medical uses, such as diazepam
- Schedule Five drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and have accepted medical uses, such as Tylenol with codeine.
Possession of a Schedule Five drug or 20 grams or less of marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, while possession of any Schedule One drug like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine in excess of 10 grams can result in up to 30 years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.
Drug convictions also lead to suspension of driver’s license, ineligibility for many government jobs and some forms of college financial aid, inability to gain state licensing or certification, inability to qualify for public housing and damage to the ability to gain employment
If you or someone you live finds themselves with a drug possession charge, contact a qualified, experienced attorney to help you out of this legal jam.