Drug Offenses

What are Drug Offenses?

Drug offenses vary in seriousness depending on the drug in question and the amount. Probably the most common drug charge is “simple possession” of marijuana (defined as an amount less than 20 grams). This is a first degree misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of one year in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. Most other common drug possession charges (such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin, or possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana) are third degree felonies carrying a maximum of five years in state prison and a $5,000 fine. Possession with intent to sell, or selling, illegal drugs increases the severity of the maximum punishment. Possessing large quantities of an illegal drug is known as “trafficking” and this very often carries minimum mandatory prison sentences and extremely large fines.


Charged with a Drug Offense?

One little known fact about Florida’s drug laws is that conviction of any drug offense carries a driver’s license suspension of one year. There are potentially ways to avoid this, and it’s something that should be discussed with an attorney as soon as possible. Drug charges usually begin with a driver being pulled over by the police. It is therefore very important to contact an attorney, because problems with the stop or search of a vehicle can justify a motion to suppress evidence – which, in most cases, results in the case being thrown out.

Even in situations in which a person is guilty of a drug offense, this behavior may (and often does) stem from an underlying addiction. An attorney can help explain such mitigating circumstances to the judge or prosecutor, and may be able to obtain a lighter sentence encompassing drug treatment. Resolutions like this benefit the offender (who gets the help he needs) as well as society (which is less likely to see the person in trouble again).

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