Drug legislation is in a state of flux in many regions throughout the nation. Florida is certainly no exception. Recent changes have Northwest Florida residents wondering what, exactly, constitutes a misdemeanor or felony crime — and what penalties they might face if they’re accused of drug possession. If anything remains the same, however, it’s that Florida retains some of the nation’s harshest drug laws. Merely possessing drugs could lead to misdemeanor or even felony charges, as we clarify below. Learn all about drug possession in Florida and follow these guidelines.
What Constitutes Drug Possession?
In Florida, drug possession occurs when somebody has knowledge of and is in control of a substance that is either controlled or outright illegal. The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act establishes a strict schedule of illegal and controlled substances. Examples of drugs mentioned on this schedule include:
- Fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives
What About Drug Paraphernalia?
In Florida, as in many states, drug paraphernalia is deemed contraband and therefore subject to civil forfeiture. The state defines paraphernalia as equipment or materials designed for cultivating, manufacturing, packaging, ingesting or inhaling drugs. Examples of drug paraphernalia include:
- Kits used to process or prepare controlled substances
- Testing equipment designed to assess the strength or efficacy of controlled substances
- Separation gins for refining cannabis
- Packages for holding small quantities of drugs
- Hypodermic syringes or needles for injecting illicit substances
- Cannabis cigarettes
- Cocaine spoons
As with possession of controlled or illegal substances, possession of related paraphernalia is a crime in the state of Florida and could lead to first-degree misdemeanor penalties.
What Are the Penalties For Possession?
Consequences of drug possession vary considerably based on the type of drug, the age of the individual, and whether he or she is believed to have intended to sell or distribute the substance. A criminal record can also play a huge role in penalty severity; those with a clear history of drug possession or other related behavior are far more likely to emerge with felony charges and accompanying prison time.
Felony drug possession crimes continue to carry incredibly harsh consequences, although a recent referendum struck a voting ban from this long list. But while those with accused of felony drug possession can eventually expect to have their voting rights reinstated, they may still face significant fines, probation, community service, and months — even years — behind bars.
What About Possession with the Intent to Sell?
Unfortunately, drug charges often don’t end with possession. Many Destin residents have also been accused of possessing drugs with the intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver. These charges often occur at the second or third-degree felony level. Maximum penalties could include several years in prison. Proving such charges beyond a reasonable doubt can be difficult, however.
Don’t be fooled by evolving drug laws in other states; possession remains a serious charge in Florida — and could have huge implications for your future. If you have been accused of possessing a controlled substance or committing any other drug crime, it is critical that you seek support from a criminal attorney as soon as possible.
Attorney John Greene has a strong track record in criminal law. He has worked closely with many Destin clients accused of drug possession. Call today or contact us online to learn more about your options for dealing with drug charges in Northwest Florida.