Illegal Drug Possession in West Palm Beach
Being identified as a suspect in a drug crime means that you will be investigated by the state or federal authorities depending on the severity of the case. In the most severe instances, a drug investigation could trigger an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration. When you’re facing a drug charge, life can suddenly slow to a crawl. You might experience confusion, regret, and uncertainty about the next steps you should take to protect yourself and reputation.
When you need compassionate and aggressive criminal defense in West Palm Beach, contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel.
Illegal Drug Possession Charges
Drug crimes are among the crimes most harshly prosecuted by the state. In Florida, you can face felony charges for even the smallest amount of a controlled substance that is not marijuana. Even if you are caught with a minuscule quantity of a Schedule V controlled substance, which we describe here as being the mildest of all the controlled substances, you could face felony charges. Strict drug laws ensure that you may face mandatory minimum sentences, steep fines, and a lifetime of restrictions for simple drug possession if you are convicted of a felony offense. If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance, you must act quickly to defend your rights.
Defining Drug Possession in West Palm Beach
Unless you have the proper authorization to possess drugs because you are a healthcare provider or have a valid prescription, it is illegal to keep controlled substances including prescription medications. A law enforcement officer may become suspicious of you if he finds any trace of a potential illegal substance on you. Even the smallest amounts of an illegal substance can lead to devastating consequences. For example, possessing just 7 grams of oxycodone (a Schedule II substance) can be prosecuted as a trafficking charge. Common drugs that are banned include:
- MDMA/ Ecstasy
- Synthetic drugs
- Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax)
You could also face stiff penalties for possessing narcotics in Palm Beach, such as:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
The penalties you may face upon a drug possession conviction depend on the type of drug found on you and the quantity discovered. The higher the drug schedule (with Schedules I and II being the most severe) the worse the penalties may be.
What are Drug Schedules?
Drugs and the chemicals used to make them are classified into 5 categories based on their accepted medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential. Both a drug’s accepted medical uses and potential for abuse determine what category it falls under; for example, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create a psychological or physical dependence and little to no medical value. As the drug schedule changes, the abuse potential diminishes. Schedule II substances have a lower abuse potential than Schedule I and so on, with Schedule V substances having the least potential for abuse.
Examples of Schedule I drugs include:
Examples of Schedule V drugs include some antidiarrheal medicines and cough syrups.
If you’re suspected of possessing a Schedule I drug, it will take a smaller volume of that drug to face felony or federal charges. The State of Florida prosecutes drug crimes aggressively, so even if you are found with only enough of a controlled substance for personal use you could still face a challenging punishment upon a conviction. If you’re unsure about what charge you face in connection to a drug crime, discuss your case with a drug defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Understanding Drug Possession in Florida
In Florida, possession can be defined in either of two ways: actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession implies that the controlled substance in question was allegedly found on your person. If you were stopped by police and patted down, and they allegedly discovered a suspicious substance on you, as if it were in your pocket, this is an example of actual possession. Constructive possession occurs when the drug is found in a location of which you are exclusively in control. A Florida state trooper may pull you over, allegedly discover heroin in the trunk of your car or home, and charge you with constructive possession. It’s crucial to seek representation immediately after any drug arrest in West Palm Beach.
Possible Drug Possession Penalties
Drug possession can sometimes be a first-degree misdemeanor charge, for example, if you have 20 grams or less of marijuana. Penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor drug possession charge could include:
- A year of incarceration in a county jail
- A fine of up to $1,000
- Court costs
Additionally, if you are a first-time offender, you might be eligible for drug court which could lead to a dropped drug possession charge upon completion. Talk to your lawyer about the possibility of completing drug court to maintain a clean record and hide your criminal charge from the public.
Simple drug possession is a third-degree felony in Florida, meaning that, if you are convicted, you could face significant penalties:
- Fines of up to $5,000
- Incarceration of up to 5 years in a state prison
- Possibility of up to 5 years of probation
- License suspension for 2 years
- Additional court fees
You might also be required to attend a substance abuse program.
You may face a first-degree felony possession charge if you are suspected of possessing:
- More than 25 pounds of marijuana
- More than 28 grams of cocaine
- More than 10 grams of MDMA
- More than 1 gram of LSD
- More than 4 grams of heroin
The penalties for a first-degree felony charge are the most severe. You could face a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and you might face a mandatory minimum prison sentence depending on the drug type and volume.
Defend Yourself Against Drug Charges
Don’t assume all hope is lost if police allegedly find drugs on your person or property. If you’re in or near West Palm Beach, you can turn to the trusted team of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel to protect your rights throughout the entire judicial process. Attorney Brian Gabriel has extensive experience fighting drug charges throughout Palm Beach and neighboring counties, and can develop a practical and tough defense for your case. With over 25 years of dedication to fighting criminal charges, he can analyze all aspects of your case and pinpoint the best approach for the best possible outcome. Call the Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel at 561-622-5575 or complete our contact form for a free consultation.