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What to Expect from a First-Time Drug Possession Charge

If you are facing a first-time possession charge, you may or may not go to jail. Just like many types of criminal charges, it depends on a number of factors. Even though it is your first-time charged with drugs, Florida takes any type of drug possession very seriously.

Avoiding incarceration is complicated - and the best way that you can do that is to get a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney may be able to get the evidence that the state has against you thrown out or have the drug possession charges dismissed.

First-Time Drug Possession Charge – an Overview of What to Expect

If you are found to be in possession of a controlled substance without a valid medical prescription, you can be charged with drug possession in Florida under Section 893.13(6)(a) of the Florida Statutes. This can result in severe penalties such as incarceration, high fines, and fees, even if it is a first-time charge with drugs.

There are many controlled substances in the state, including:

  • Oxycodone
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Xanax
  • LSD
  • MDMA
  • Ecstasy
  • Peyote
  • Psilocybin
  • Other opiates

These listed above are a sampling of the controlled substances that you can get arrested for in the state. You can find a comprehensive list in the drug abuse prevention control section 893.03 of the Florida Statutes, including their standards and schedules.

Do you know what “possession of a controlled substance” means? You have to have known that the substance was illegal. This is the first qualifier. Then, one of the following types of situations must occur.

1) The controlled substance, for example, cocaine, was found anywhere on your person. This would be considered actual possession.
2) You knew that the controlled substance was in your presence AND you had control over it — even though it was not specifically located on your person at the time of the arrest. This would be considered constructive possession.

Two examples of constructive possession would be (1) if law enforcement found cocaine in the nightstand of your bedroom at your home or (2) hidden between or underneath the seats of your car.

When you are arrested for first-time possession, the prosecutors and law enforcement are looking at the amount of evidence they have and whether or not they have a strong enough case to move forward. Each circumstance is different and will often depend on how the case is handled. When you work with a criminal defense attorney, they will closely examine the details of the case to determine the appropriate defense strategy to get the best outcome possible. They may be able to even get the first-time possession charges dropped before they are even filed.

It is often possible on a first-time drug possession charge to post bail. This depends on several factors. If there is a singular charge for possession and it was only a small amount of drugs, you will often have an option to post bail. But – if there are additional charges, such as dealing, or other factors such as you were found to be resisting arrest, had a gun, or violence was involved, you could very well be denied bail or have it set at a significant amount.

Even if the charges are more severe than a singular charge of drug possession, your attorney may be able to get the charges reduced or even thrown out. It is never hopeless. You should always consult with an attorney.

Penalties for Different Types of Drugs

You can face harsh penalties, even if it is a first-time drug possession charge.

The penalties vary depending on the amount(quantity) and type of drug. As a general rule, for most cases of possession of a controlled substance, an individual would face a third-degree felony. This would include such drugs as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone, fentanyl, etc. Penalties can include:

  • Up to five years in prison
  • Fines of up to $5,000
  • Court-ordered inpatient drug treatment program
  • Court-ordered drug counseling
  • Suspension of driver’s license

The penalties for the possession of marijuana are typically less severe. Drug possession of less than 20 grams would be a misdemeanor. Penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to a $1,000 fine
  • Other court-ordered penalties

Many drug possession cases of marijuana when you have less than 20 grams can be dismissed if you have a good lawyer. Judges and prosecutors will often work with defense attorneys to solve the case without a conviction.

What Happens if You are Convicted?

If you are convicted, the court will move to the sentencing phase to determine the length of time you will be incarcerated and the amount of fines and fees that will need to be paid, as well as any associated drug treatment program and counseling. You would most likely have a felony on your record thereafter that can negatively impact your ability to make a living and have other lasting impacts on your life.

But know — a drug arrest does not mean a conviction.

How Bruce Denson Can Help

Bruce Denson is an experienced defense attorney and will thoroughly investigate your first-time possession charge, including from the time the police began investigating, through the arrest process, to the handling of your case. Your constitutional rights may have been violated – such as not advising you of your Miranda rights or performing an improper search or seizure.

After the investigation, he will explain to you all of the possible defenses to your case. He will present motions to the judge to dismiss the charges or suppress or exclude evidence against you on legal grounds.

If appropriate, he may negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutors to reduce the charges and penalties. If the case cannot be resolved satisfactorily outside of trial, Bruce Denson will present the strongest possible representation at trial. He is an experienced litigator and works diligently to stand up for the rights of his clients.

Early intervention by a defense attorney for drug possession in Florida can make a big difference.

Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.

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