Defenses To Drug Charges In Florida
If you have been charged with a drug offense in Florida, it can feel entirely overwhelming, especially if this is your first run-in with the law. However, you are entitled to your day in court, and a chance to explain your side of the story. There are several potentially mitigating circumstances you can introduce at trial that can help to potentially lower any sentence you face, or in some circumstances, possibly eliminate it altogether. Consulting an experienced attorney may be a good idea.
These Are Serious Offenses
Florida takes drug crimes extremely seriously, because the state has a long history of drugs being bought and sold within its borders. It is the public policy of the state of Florida that drug crimes are offenses against society – they can do long-lasting harm not only to those who commit them, but to innocents as well – and thus should be prosecuted harshly. In order to try and cut down on the use, sale, and distribution of drugs, even first offenses will often face jail time as well as fines and court costs.
In addition, if you are stopped with enough of a certain drug, you may trigger a charge of drug trafficking, which will carry what is known as a mandatory minimum sentence in most cases. Mandatory minimum sentences were instituted for drug offenses in the early 1980s, as a reaction to nearly unchecked drug-related crime in the southern United States. They require that a person convicted of certain offenses must serve a mandatory minimum amount of years in prison, regardless of the actual circumstances of their case.
Two Groups Of Defenses
There are two main groups of defenses that a person can assert in response to being charged with a drug offense – whether it is simple possession, sale or distribution, or trafficking. The first group alleges that one or more elements of the offense have not been met. For example, a charge of drug possession must be established by proving three elements: (1) that the person had “actual or constructive possession” of the drugs, (2) that they were aware they possessed the drugs; and (3) they knew the substance was illegal to possess. If your attorney can cast reasonable doubt on one or more of the elements, you cannot be convicted.
The other group of defenses you can use at trial center on an alleged violation of your constitutional rights. For example, if law enforcement searched your home or vehicle and found evidence, you may be able to show that the search was unconstitutional. If so, any evidence found during that search will be inadmissible – leaving the state’s attorney with less evidence to use against you.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney
While each case is different, know that in every case, you have the right to defend yourself against the charges. If you have been charged with a drug crime in Florida, a West Palm Beach drug crime attorney from Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help to ensure your rights are protected and your story is heard. Contact our office today at 561-721-0552 to speak to an attorney.