Drug Offenses

The state of Florida is the mecca of international drug trafficking and money laundering, due to its prime location and seemly easy drug access point. Among the various drugs that are illegally transported into the state, cocaine and heroin are the primary drug threats, with chronic use and addiction creating not only personal and financial instability, but ultimately severe issues with the law. Without delving into the statistics, drug crimes account for a substantial portion of overall crimes committed in the state of Florida—and as you can imagine, are punished rather harshly. To bolster this point, an individual charged with a simple possession of cocaine faces up to five years in prison; not to mention becoming a convicted felon if ultimately adjudicated guilty. Additionally, there are many drug crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences that the Court must impose, and further, a drug conviction can result in a lengthy driving privilege suspension. Thus, the service of a highly knowledgeable and aggressive law firm is encouraged to protect an individual from the potentially severe consequences of a conviction.

I. Cannabis

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, pot, or weed—among other street names—is a Schedule I controlled substance in the state of Florida. A Schedule I controlled substance means that these drugs have no medical use and carry a high potential for abuse. It may seem intuitive, but in Florida, it is a crime to have or possess any amount of marijuana without a prescription from a doctor. Essentially, the weight of the cannabis in a person’s possession differentiates a misdemeanor from a felony offense.

It might be useful to indicate that cannabis concentrates, e.g. THC oil and cannabis wax, do not fall under the same legal definition as cannabis, and thus, are charged as a separate felony offense.

In the Orlando area, a large number of people are arrested for possession of cannabis—compared to other drug crimes—and as a result, law enforcement is prone to slip up and make mistakes. From stop, search, and possession issues—among various other issues we have successfully attacked in the past—the skilled attorneys at the Joshi Law Firm are always working to identify these issues and aggressively advocate on behalf of the client.

A. Possession of 20 Grams or Less of Cannabis

A person found in actual or constructive possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor. The penalties include up to one year in prison, one year of probation, and a $1,000 fine, among other sanctions. Additionally, the Court may order a person to complete a drug evaluation and any recommended treatment, random urine testing, or to complete a drug educational course—or a combination of the aforementioned. Although these additional sanctions are typically ordered for more serious charges than a simple misdemeanor possession of cannabis—unless you are a repeat offender.

In order to prove the crime of possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis, the prosecution must prove three distinct elements: (1) the Defendant possessed a certain substance; (2) the substance was cannabis; and (3) the Defendant had knowledge of the presence of the substance. Put simply, the State must prove that the person possessed cannabis—20 grams or less—and that said person had knowledge of this fact.

As previously mentioned, possession can be either actual or constructive. Harris v. State—Fla. 5th DCA 2007—interprets actual possession as the drug being in the hand of the accused, or in a container in the hand of the accused, or the drug being in such close proximity as to be within ready reach and that is under the control of the accused. Essentially, if it’s on the person then that person is said to be in actual possession of the drug. The Defendant having exclusive control of the illegal substance is critical. The fact that the substance is in mere proximity of the Defendant is insufficient to establish control over the drug when the substance is not in an area where the person has exclusive control over it. Thus, there must be additional evidence linking the Defendant to the drug other than his or her proximity to it.

Another way the prosecution can prove possession is by constructive possession. In order to prove constructive possession, the State must satisfy or prove two independent elements: (1) the Defendant’s dominion or control over the controlled substance; and (2) the Defendant’s knowledge that the controlled substance was within the Defendant’s presence. Therefore, this alternative way to prove possession does not require the drug to be on the physical person.

When an individual has exclusive possession of cannabis or another illegal substance, knowledge of its presence can be inferred. Note: knowledge and control must be established by independent proof where more than one individual is near the contraband or has access to it. Mere proximity to the drug is insufficient to establish constructive possession. Therefore, even if the drugs are in plain view, the evidence would be insufficient to prove constructive possession—without more to illustrate the accused exercised dominion and control over the illegal substance.

An important fact to recognize is that the prosecution does not need to prove the accused knew of the illegal nature of the substance in their possession. Merely knowing that the substance was present is enough to support a conviction.

It’s noteworthy to highlight the fact that if an individual is convicted of a misdemeanor cannabis offense their driving privilege can be suspended for a period of six months. This is due to the fact that the Court is obligated—under Florida Statute 322.055—to notify the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to suspend the convicted person’s driver’s license upon conviction. If you have been convicted of a drug offense before and your license was not suspended, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. The caveat of the six-month suspension lies in the reading of Florida Statute 322.055. The language explicitly states, “the suspension shall be 6 months or until the person is evaluated for and, if deemed necessary by the evaluating agency, completes a drug treatment and rehabilitation program approved or regulated by the Department of Children and Families.”

Furthermore, the criminal episode that lead to the conviction does not need to involve a motor vehicle—under Florida law. A person’s license will still be suspended, regardless of the person driving a motor vehicle or not.

B. Possession of more than 20 grams of Cannabis

The crime of possession of cannabis over 20 grams is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. Other sanctions the Court may order is a drug evaluation and any follow up treatment, random urine analysis, community service hours, and drug educational courses. Additionally, a conviction may result in a two-year driver’s license suspension—without the opportunity to gain a hardship or business purposes only license for the first year. Not to mention the financial hardship of increased automobile insurance rates. Further, since this crime is a felony offense, a conviction will classify that person as a convicted felon, which could have devastating consequences on current and future employment, college admissions, right to possess a firearm, ability vote, ineligibility for public housing, interference with State licensing, permitting, and certifications, and ultimately your reputation in the community.

The State must prove the same elements as misdemeanor cannabis above—the only difference is that the weight must be greater than 20 grams of cannabis. As you can see, the weight of the cannabis essentially separates a misdemeanor from a felony offense.

C. Trafficking in Cannabis

The crime of trafficking in cannabis is the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, transport or actual or constructive possession of a specific amount of cannabis. This criminal offense is considered a first degree felony under Florida Statute 893.135—the statute governing trafficking offenses. In the state of Florida, the minimum amount needed to warrant trafficking charges for cannabis is either 26 pounds or 300 plants. It’s noteworthy to point out that these amounts are only the minimum needed to justify trafficking charges. Therefore, as the amount increases, so do the mandatory minimum prison sentences. Please see below:

  • 26 to 1,999 pounds or 300 to 2,000 cannabis plants:
    • three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $25,000 fine
  • 2,000 to 9,999 pounds or 2,000 to 10,000 cannabis plants:
    • seven-year mandatory minimum sentence;
    • $50,000 fine
  • 10,000 pounds or more or 10,000 or more cannabis plants:
    • 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $200,000 fine

Under Florida Statute 893.135, “a plant, including, but not limited to, a seedling or cutting, is a ‘cannabis plant’ if it has some readily observable evidence of root formation, such as root hairs. To determine if a piece or part of a cannabis plant severed from the cannabis plant is itself a cannabis plant, the severed piece or part must have some readily observable evidence of root formation, such as root hairs. Callous tissue is not readily observable evidence of root formation. The viability and sex of a plant and the fact that the plant may or may not be a dead harvested plant are not relevant in determining if the plant is a ‘cannabis plant.’” Upon conviction, the Court must impose the longest term of imprisonment provided under said statute.

If you believe you may be under investigation or were arrested for trafficking in cannabis, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent and consult an attorney immediately, as these are very serious charges. We are sometimes able to mitigate the circumstances by conducting our own pre-investigation—please call our office for information on the pre-investigation services we offer.

II. Cocaine

Cocaine, also known as coke, blow, snow, and dust, among other names, is a highly addictive stimulant that can lead to long term health, social, and psychological issues. Cocaine generally appears as a fine, white, crystalline powder, and is typically mixed with non-psychoactive substances such as flour, baking soda, and cornstarch—to increase dealer profits. This powerful drug is known to rapidly change an individual’s brain chemistry, as well as trigger instant euphoria—producing an intense high. It is considered a Schedule II controlled substance in the State of Florida. Schedule II substances are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. Drugs that fall in this category are considered dangerous and their use is severely restricted in medical treatment. Cocaine, both powdered and crack cocaine, is a drug that is readily available in the state of Florida and is more often connected with violent crimes than any other illegal drug in the state. 

A. Possession of Cocaine

A person found in actual or constructive possession of less than 28 grams of cocaine can be charged with a third degree felony. The potential consequences of this charge is up to five years in prison, five years of supervised probation, and a $5,000 fine. Of course, the Court may impose or order additional sanctions that can include a drug evaluation and any recommended treatment, community services hours, and even random drug testing. The severity of this crime is largely based on weight. Consequently, the offense can be enhanced to a first degree felony if the individual is found with 28 grams or more of cocaine—putting it into trafficking status.

In order to prove the crime of possession of cocaine, the prosecution must prove three distinct elements: (1) the Defendant possessed a certain substance; (2) the substance was cocaine; and (3) the Defendant had knowledge of the presence of the substance. Simply put, the State must prove that the person possessed cocaine—less than 28 grams—and that said person had knowledge of this fact.

The elements of possession of cocaine are tantamount or similar to possession of cannabis (please see above). The only difference is essentially the substance. Both require either actual or constructive possession, knowledge, and an illegal substance. Again, the elements are explained in detail above in the cannabis section.

The concept of joint constructive possession is important because our firm has used it as a defense numerous times to get serious drug charges dropped. Under this concept, if a drug is discovered in an area that is in joint control—i.e. where two or more persons could exercise decisive influence or control over the substance—rather than in exclusive possession, the Defendant’s knowledge of the drug’s presence and the ability to control it cannot be inferred from the Defendant’s proximity to the illegal substance. Instead, knowledge must be proven by independent evidence. This is usually the scenario when friends are in a car, they get pulled over by law enforcement, and drugs are found in the vehicle. Unless the accused admits to it or provides a statement illustrating guilt, the State will likely be forced to file a no information or nolle prosequi (drop) the case, due to the joint constructive possession issue.

It is important to bring to one’s attention the concept of weight as it pertains to cocaine and other controlled substances in the state of Florida. The weight is not determined by how much pure drug is in the mixture, but instead, how much the total weight of the mixture containing the drug ultimately weighs. For example, a person could have a mixture with 10 grams of pure cocaine, but since the overall weight of the mixture in the person’s possession is 30 grams, the individual could be charged with the more serious crime of trafficking in cocaine.

B. Trafficking in Cocaine

Any individual that knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into the state of Florida or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine, but less than 150 kilograms of cocaine, commits the crime of trafficking in cocaine—a first degree felony under Florida Statute 893.135. However, if the total weight is 150 kilograms or more of cocaine, the offense is enhanced to a first degree felony, punishable by life imprisonment. If the Court determines that, in addition to committing this offense: (1) the person intentionally killed an individual or counseled, commanded, induced, procured, or caused the intentional killing of an individual and such killing was the result; or (2) the person’s conduct in committing that act led to a natural, though not inevitable, lethal result, then that person commits a capital felony—punishable by life or death.

Circling back to the weight of the cocaine—under Florida law—the above mentioned weight includes any mixture containing cocaine. Therefore, if the mixture contains a small amount of pure cocaine, but the overall weight is 28 grams but less than 150 kilograms of cocaine, the person can sufficiently be charged with trafficking in cocaine. The following is a guide to the mandatory minimum sentences under Florida law:

  • 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams:
    • three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $50,000 fine;
    • Note: The Court can impose up to 30 years in prison, but is required to imposed a mandatory minimum three-year prison sentence and a $50,000 fine.
  • 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams:
    • seven-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $100,000 fine;
    • Note: The Court can impose up to 30 years in prison, but is required to imposed a mandatory minimum sentence of seven-years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
  • 400 grams or more, but less than 150 kilograms:
    • 15 calendar year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $250,000 fine
    • Note: The Court can impose up to 30 years in prison, but is required to imposed a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

As with most other drug offenses and pursuant to Florida Statute 322.055, an individual convicted of trafficking in cocaine will have their driving privilege suspended for a period of six months by the DHSMV. Additionally, pursuant to Florida Statute 893.11, an individual convicted of this offense will be subject to an emergency suspension of any professional licenses issued by the state of Florida, which authorizes the practicing of a profession or trade.

Some strategies the authorities attempt to utilize to take down wrongdoers of trafficking is by phone tapping, controlled phone calls, and controlled buys. Generally, these tactics are used to establish probable cause so law enforcement can obtain an arrest warrant, from a Judge, to take the accused down and inevitably into custody.

Persons accused of trafficking typically have high bonds set or even no bond set at all. Hiring a highly skilled attorney to get the bond amount reduced or a reasonable bond set is critical, especially if the person doesn’t have the means to get out of custody. The attorney initiates this process by filing what is known as a “Motion to Set Reasonable Bond” or a “Motion to Reduce Bond” with the Clerk of Court. Subsequently, the defense sets a hearing on the Motion, at which point will determine if the bond will be reduced or set in the case. The attorneys at the Joshi Law Firm have a lot of experience with Motions like these and have received many positive results getting bonds reduced or set for our clients. Not only do we like our clients out of custody for purposes of freedom and less restriction, but additionally, it makes preparation of the case more efficient. We also don’t like our clients in custody because they might say something over the phone—which are oftentimes recorded—that could be detrimental to their case and ultimately used against them in court. As a general rule of thumb, your case should never be discussed with others, unless that person is your attorney.

III. Heroin

Heroin, also known as dope, smack, horse, and brown, among other names, is an opioid that is commonly used by injection, snorting, or is smoked to get high. In the state of Florida, heroin is considered a Schedule I controlled substance—i.e. these drugs have no medical use and carry a high potential for abuse. It is usually sold or purchased as a white or brownish powder that is mixed with sugars, flour, powdered milk, or starch. However, pure heroin is a fine white powder with a bitter taste. Users and addicts are at high risk of overdosing due to the typical unknown strength of the drug—because it’s usually mixed with various substances such as other drugs, caffeine, strychnine, and other poisons.

Heroin is another drug that is readily available in the state of Florida—mainly in major metropolitan areas—and is frequently abused and distributed throughout the state. It is occasionally associated with violent crimes; however, not as much as cocaine. Heroin is largely associated with crimes that help support the users drug habits, such as prostitution, theft, and burglary—to name a few. Users and abusers of this drug have been known to steal from family members or others close to them to gain the necessary funds to buy the drug, as the need is overwhelming for addicts.

A. Possession of Heroin

If a person is found in possession of less than four grams of heroin, said person can be charged with a third degree felony, punishably by up to five years in prison, five years of supervised probation, a $5,000 fine, among other sanctions.

In order to prove the crime of possession of heroin, the prosecution must prove three distinct elements: (1) the Defendant possessed a certain substance; (2) the substance was heroin; and (3) the Defendant had knowledge of the presence of the substance. Simply put, the State must prove that the person possessed heroin—less than four grams—and that said person had knowledge of this fact.

The elements of possession of heroin are similar to possession of cannabis and cocaine (please see above). The only difference is essentially the substance. Possession of heroin less than four grams requires either actual or constructive possession, knowledge, and an illegal substance. The elements of possession and knowledge are explained in detail above in the cannabis section.

B. Trafficking in Heroin

A person who knowingly sells, purchases, manufactures, delivers, or brings into the state of Florida, or who is knowingly in actual or constructive possession of four grams or more of any morphine, opium, including heroin, or four grams or more of any mixture containing any such substance, but less than 30 kilograms of such substance or mixture, commits a first degree felony, identified as “trafficking in illegal drugs,” with the following mandatory minimum guidelines, if convicted:

  • 4 grams or more, but less than 14 grams:
    • three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $50,000 fine;
    • up to 30 years in prison.
  • 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams:
    • 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $100,000 fine;
    • up to 30 years in prison.
  • 28 grams or more, but less than 30 kilograms:
    • 25-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $500,000 fine;
    • up to 30 years in prison.
  • 30 kilograms or more
    • Life in prison;
    • $500,000 fine.

A person convicted of trafficking in heroin will have their driving privilege suspended for a period of six months or more by FLDHSMV. Additionally, a person convicted of this crime will be subject to an emergency suspension of any professional license issued by the state of Florida. The crime of trafficking in heroin is a serious offense. An attorney that has experience with drug crimes should be sought, as a person conceivably faces anywhere from 30 years to life behind bars.

IV. Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine—also known as meth, crystal meth, crank, speed, and ice—is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant. It is usually bought or sold as a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder, and is classified as a Schedule II drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Users of methamphetamine typically take it orally, by snorting it, smoking it, or injecting it with a needle. Methamphetamine comes from the amphetamine drug, but is considered a more potent drug. General side effects of meth include increased activity, talkativeness, decreased appetite, and a sense of euphoria, among other side effects. Because greater amounts of the drug get into the human brain—compared to amphetamine—the effects on a user’s central nervous system are more harmful, potent, and longer lasting. This drug is associated with severe health conditions, including heart and brain damage, aggression, and psychotic behavior. Not only can methamphetamine have serious implications to a person’s health, but it can also cause a slew of legal issues.

A. Possession of Methamphetamine

The crime of possession of less than 14 grams of methamphetamine—i.e. meth—is considered a third degree felony under Florida law. This offense is carries severe penalties, including up to five years in prison, five years of probation, a $5,000 fine—or a combination of the aforementioned. Other sanctions the court can impose is community service hours, random drug testing, drug evaluation and treatment, among others.

Similar to the other drug possession crimes explained above, the State must prove actual or constructive possession; that the substance possessed was less than 14 grams of methamphetamine; and the Defendant had knowledge. These three elements are further explained in detail above.

Additionally, like the other drug possession crimes explained above, a conviction will likely result in a driver license suspension.

B. Trafficking in Methamphetamine

The criminal offense of trafficking in methamphetamine—like other trafficking drug crimes—is considered a very serious crime in the state of Florida. The Florida courts impose mandatory minimum sentences on individuals convicted of trafficking in meth. This is largely determined by the overall weight of the mixture, and not by the amount of pure methamphetamine.

A person commits the crime of trafficking in methamphetamine if they knowingly possess, sell, purchase, manufacture, deliver, or transport 14 grams or more of any mixture containing methamphetamine. The drug amphetamine, or a mixture of, is also included under the same statute—Fla. Sta. 893.135(1)(f)(1). The crime of trafficking in meth is considered a first degree felony and is identified under said statute as “trafficking in amphetamine.” The following is a guide to the mandatory minimum sentences under Florida law:

  • 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams:
    • three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $50,000 fine
  • 28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams:
    • seven-year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $100,000 fine
  • 200 grams or more
    • 15 calendar year mandatory minimum prison sentence;
    • $250,000 fine

It’s noteworthy to point out that the Court may impose up to a 30-year prison sentence, but is required to impose the aforementioned mandatory minimum sentences associated with the respective weights outlined above.

Further, any person who knowingly manufactures or brings into the state of Florida 400 grams or more of amphetamine or methamphetamine, or any mixture containing said drugs, and who knows that the probable result of such manufacture or importation would result in the death of any person, commits capital manufacture or importation of amphetamine, which is a capital felony. A person convicted of a capital felony shall be punished by death, or alternatively, life in prison.

V. Possession of Prescription Drugs

Under Florida Statute 893.13(6)(a), it is illegal to be in possession of any amount of a prescription drug, unless such controlled substance was lawfully obtained from a doctor or if the individual has a valid prescription. The caveat under Fla. Sta. 893.13(9)(c) is medical professionals who are in possession of the controlled substance or drug representatives who are required to transport prescription drugs. It follows from the aforementioned that it would not be applicable to medical practitioners, pharmacists, common carries, and law enforcement when handling the controlled substance in the course of their duties. The main types of prescription drugs that are often abused by offenders are opioids, central nervous system depressants, and stimulant medications—used to treat conditions like ADHD.

Prescription drugs include, but are not limited to, Ativan, Clonazepam, Hydrocodone, Adderall, Xanax, Vyvanse, Valium, Trazodone, Prozac, Ritalin, Percocet, OxyContin, Fentanyl, Among others.

If you are found in unlawful possession of prescription drugs, at the very least you are facing a third degree felony, punishably by up to five years in prison, five years of probation, and a $5,000 fine, among other sanctions the Court may impose. However, the Schedule the drug falls under and the amount that the individual is found in possession of largely determines the severity of the crime, as well as the penalties.

Highlighted under Florida Statute 893.03, controlled substances are classified into five independent categories known as Schedules. The Schedules essentially depend on the drug’s acceptable medical use and abuse, or dependency potential. The five Schedules range from Schedule I (most serious drugs with the most severe penalties) to Schedule V (least severe). Let’s take a closer look:

  • Schedule I: drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no acknowledged medical use in the United States.
    • Morphine, LSD, Heroin, Cannabis, Ecstasy, MDMA, Quaalude, Bath Salts, etc.
  • Schedule II: drugs that have a high potential for abuse and a very limited accepted medical use in the United States.
    • Hydrocodone, Ritalin, Percocet, Vicodin, Methadone, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, etc.
  • Schedule III: drugs that have a potential for abuse, but lower than Schedule I or II drugs and an accepted medical use in the United States.
    • Anabolic steroids, Ketamine, etc.
  • Schedule IV: drugs that have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs and accepted medical uses in the United States.
    • Clonazepam (Klonopin), Xanax (Alprazolam), Ambien, Valium (Diazepam), Ativan (Lorazepam), etc.
  • Schedule V: drugs that have a low potential for abuse relative to substances listed in Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing small quantities of certain narcotics.
    • Cough preparations containing not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams—Robitussin AC, Phenergan with Codeine—and ezogabine.

Generally, if a person is in illegal possession of a prescription drug, they face a third degree felony—as previously mentioned. However, if a person is found in possession of a Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substance and there’s evidence showing that said person intended to sell, it could be enhanced to a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, among other sanctions. To make matters worse, if a person is found in possession of larger quantities of prescription drugs, they are elevated even further to trafficking. To put things in perspective, an individual found in possession of 14 grams or more of a Schedule II drug faces a first degree felony. This increases the severity of the offense considerably, as a person faces up to 30 years in prison, among other penalties the court will likely impose.

How will the Joshi Law Firm protect an individual accused of a drug offense?

We do not encourage fighting a drug charge on your own—the skills of an experienced law firm to advocate on your behalf is the best course of action. We are humbled to say that we have received many positive results for our clients, and we attribute our successes to our hard working and passionate team, including our aggressive attorneys who dissect each case from all angles. Our attorneys fight the legality of law enforcement’s actions, including the legality of the stop, detention, and search that ultimately led to the arrest. Further, sometimes police will make an arrest without any probable cause at all. Frequently, since police make a lot of drug arrests, which are usually late at night and under time sensitive circumstances, they are prone to make mistakes—and when they do we expose these constitutional violations. This is accomplished by filing what is known as a “Motion to Suppress Evidence.” If said Motion is granted, critical evidence to prove the State’s case may no longer be admissible in Court to prove the charges against a person—and oftentimes leads to a dismissal of charges.

The defenses to fight drug charges may be legal or factual in nature—or sometimes both. Below are just some of the defenses the Joshi Law Firm has used in the past to contest drug allegations:

  • Joint constructive possession issues;
    • Explained in detail above.
  • Illegal stop, detention, search, and/or arrest;
    • Unconstitutional 4th amendment violations.
  • Improperly executed search or arrest warrants;
  • Lack of warrant;
  • No consent to search;
  • Illegal canine searches;
  • Insufficient canine certification for a search;
  • Failure to read Miranda;
  • Evidence handled improperly;
  • Lack of evidence to prove actual or constructive drug possession;
  • Lack of evidence to prove knowledge of the presence of the drug.

Drug offenses are highly defendable crimes, given the numerous legal and factual defenses that exist. However, we do not encourage that you handle or pursue these matters alone. Due to the technical, complex nature of these cases, a person charged—or believe they will soon be charged—should seek proper legal representation.

What is Drug Court and am I eligible?

The Florida courts realize that crimes related to drugs are frequently rooted in the disease of addiction, and as a result, will sometimes let eligible individuals participate in a Drug Court program. Commonly, successful completion of said program can help people avoid jail time, and even sometimes keep a felony conviction off a person’s record. Eligibility for post-adjudicatory drug courts is laid out in Fla. Sta. 948.08—and varies widely. This is due to drug courts operating at the county and circuit level throughout the state of Florida.

Generally, the Office of the State Attorney initiates or decides which cases are referred to the Drug Court program. For eligibility purposes, the Defendant must illustrate proof of having an addiction to drugs or alcohol. It’s noteworthy to highlight that drug possession crimes, including felony possession, are more prone to be eligible for Drug Court, as opposed to drug distribution cases. Sometimes the original charge does not even have to be drug related at all, but the Defendant violated their probation by using drugs. Under this circumstance, a person may be eligible for Drug Court. Further, offenders with a past criminal history may be referred by the State, or even individuals that are looking at substantial jail or prison time. As you can probably appreciate by now, there’s no real boilerplate set of qualifications for Drug Court eligibility.

For those eligible for Drug Court, they often will enter a plea at the beginning stages that details the amount of time they will spend in jail or prison if they do not successfully complete the program. This amount is usually substantially more than if they avoided Drug Court altogether and dealt with the offense separate.

The Drug Court program itself is not a program to take lightly. It generally requires early morning visits to Court and frequent drug testing—which is random. Further, participants are required to do many hours of group counseling—similar to classroom work. They must also attend 12 Step recovery program meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous. When the offender shows up to court, there is usually a counselor that presents to the court a report, showing how the person is doing in the program. Generally, Drug Court lasts for a period of one year, but can be extended longer—depending on if further treatment is needed. Drug Court recognizes the power of this disease/addiction; therefore, if a person relapses and uses, they are not automatically thrown out of the program. Instead, they may receive a punishment that can include a small amount of jail time, and then they are usually returned to the program. However, continued drug use will inevitably result in the offender being ejected from Drug Court and that person will have to face their original sentence that was agreed upon at the beginning stages when the offender pled.

The team at the Joshi Law Firm is ready to fight for you and your rights. Please contact our office for further inquiry or if you would like to set up a consultation. We can be contacted at 407-661-1109. Alternatively, if you prefer to communicate via e-mail, we can be reached at info@joshi-law.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

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