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Am I subject to asset forfeiture in drug possession or drug dealing cases?
In Florida, the Florida Forfeiture Act does allow law enforcement to seek a civil lawsuit, in essence, to obtain your property based upon felony criminal drug cases. A simple possession of a small amount of a narcotic can subject your boat, your house, your car, your belongings to forfeiture.
Are all illegal drugs treated equally when it comes to punishing drug dealers in Florida?
No, all drugs are not treated equally. Individuals who are accused of sale or trafficking in certain types of drugs, for instance, Heroin, are going to be treated much more severely than an individual that may possess a large quantity of marijuana. The law allows for the different types of punishments, depending upon what type of illicit drug you have, and what you’re doing with that illicit drug; whether or not it’s for sale, whether or not you’re manufacturing it, whether or not you are distributing it, or whether or not you’re trafficking in the same. No, the law will not treat every individual, with any type of different type of drug, the same.
Are there even stricter punishments for different drug offenses?
In Florida, there are stricter punishments for drug offenses dependent upon, number one, the locations of the offenses, number two, whether or not you have prior history of the offenses, and number three, the quantity of that drug. If you’re charged with drug trafficking, again having a greater quantity, there are mandatory minimum prison sentences required. If you’re charged to have drugs, even a lesser amount but they’re within a certain distance of a school or church, then there are mandatory punishments. If you have a prior history of committing these offenses, again, then the sanctions and punishment are going to be more severe.
I was arrested for possession of drugs and intent to distribute
When you’re arrested for that type of a charge in Florida, you have to realize that Florida classifies drug possession in three levels of severity. The lowest level would be simple possession, which is a third-degree felony. Possession with intent to distribute is the second level, which is punishable by 15. Trafficking, which again, can be punishable by mandatory minimum punishments in prison from anywhere from three years to 25 years in prison. If law enforcement officers believe that they have evidence to show that the quantity that you have is enough to distribute, they can up-file the charge from a simple possession to possession with intent to sell. Again, the severity of that charge is one where you need good counsel to assist you immediately.
Illegal drugs were found in my house or car but aren't mine. Do I need an attorney?
Yes, you would need an attorney. In Florida an individual can be charged with what’s known as constructive possession, and that is inside your house or inside your vehicle that you exercise the control over your vehicle or your house so the law has certain presumptions that you knew of that drug in your house and therefore you can be charged with illegal possession of the same. It would be a requirement of Florida law that they have some evidence to again try to link again you having knowledge of the existence of that drug in either your vehicle or your house in order for them to be able to prosecute you for a constructive possession charge.
Is possession of drugs a felony offense?
Excluding marijuana simple possession of drugs is a felony offense. With marijuana if you simply possess marijuana, but under 20 grams of marijuana then it is classified as a misdemeanor offense. Anything over, then it would be classified as a third degree felony offense. All other drugs, generally speaking, if you possess any quantity of them is considered a felony offense.
What are the legal distinctions between possession dealing and trafficking in?
In Florida drug offenses generally have three different levels of severity. The first level is known as simple possession where an individual possesses that drug. However, if an individual possesses a quantity of that drug or possesses a quantity of that drug that it is clear there is an intent to sell it, they can be charged with a higher crime, and that is possession with intent to sell. If, however, that individual has even a greater amount, then the law is allowed to create a presumption, and that presumption is that you are a drug trafficker. If you are classified as a drug trafficker, then different mandatory prison sentences come into play. Again, the most severe category of drug possession cases are the drug trafficking cases.
What are the punishments for drug offenses?
Punishments for drug offenses can range anywhere from rehabilitation and rehabilitative sentences. That is for instance, stay out of trouble, you have a probationary type period and during that period we wish you to have intensive counseling, we wish you to be drug-tested, we wish you to receive these different types of counseling programs or attendance of AA or NA meetings. If you do that, then we may ultimately throw your case out. They can have punishments that deal with probation and again treatment and other aspects, or in the most severe of cases, the types of punishments can lead to incarcerated sentence either in a county jail or a state prison.
What counts as evidence for intent to distribute drugs in Florida?
Evidence of intent to distribute drugs in Florida can be gathered from either the packaging and the way the drug is packaged, the paraphernalia that may be found, whether or not there are scales or other measuring devices located. It also can be determined of how the drug is received. In essence, if an individual has different prescription drugs, and they are found in different bottles that would not be their normal bottles of receipt that they come from the pharmacies that way, that again is like a packaging. So, it is determinative of an intent to distribute those types of narcotics.
Will my drug dealing case be heard in regular criminal court or are there special drug courts?
In Florida there are special drug courts. Those drug courts deal with the lowest level of drug offenses. That is, simple possession drug offenses. Most drug courts are determined that if you are a drug dealer, you are not getting the help, but if you are simply possessing drugs and illegally using them, then we will try to give you help. We will try to give you counseling. We will try to minimize the damage that this will have to your permanent criminal history. Again, those types of drug courts are set up for those first time offenders with a minimum of criminal activity in their case.