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Defenses To Drug Possession
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), there were approximately 110,000 drug-related arrests in Florida in 2019. A significant percentage of them, if not a majority of them, were for simple possession, as opposed to drug trafficking or distribution. If you have been arrested for drug possession, you may not think that the charge is very serious, especially if it is a misdemeanor. However, you face serious and even potentially lifelong consequences if you are convicted. You need an attorney who can raise the appropriate defenses to ensure the possibility of conviction is at a minimum.
Both Legal & Social Consequences
The severity of drug possession charges in Florida are based solely on the type of drug you are caught with, and the amount of the drug in question. (If you are stopped and found with a mixture of drugs, the weight of the mixture is the relevant issue.) Drugs that are part of a lower ‘schedule,’ and are thus less able to be abused, tend to result in a lower degree of charge, but since the amount matters, this is not always the case.
Even if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, you still face jail time (up to 1 year), plus fines and costs. In addition, a drug crime on your criminal record will effectively close off some life paths for you. In Florida, potential employers and landlords can check your criminal record and use it as a reason not to rent to you or hire you; in addition, you will almost always lose your driver’s license for at least 6 months, making it difficult to get to a job you may already have.
Undermine The Prosecution’s Case
If you have been arrested and charged with possession of drugs, it is generally a good idea to try and avoid your case getting to trial, if at all possible, simply because Florida judges and juries are inclined to treat drug offenders harshly, and because most drug crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences. There are possible alternatives, especially if this is your first offense; you may be eligible to attend drug court, or a State’s Attorney may agree to a plea bargain, though it is never a good idea to depend on this possibility.
If your case does go to trial, though, there are a variety of affirmative defenses that your attorney may be able to raise, which can cast doubt on the State’s Attorney’s case. The most common include:
- Arguing that the substance found in your possession was not a controlled substance – for example, if you can show that the ‘drugs’ were just spices, as a prank or joke;
- Showing that you did not exercise control over the substance (control being an integral requirement for the prosecution’s case); and
- Trying to establish that law enforcement performed an illegal search or otherwise made errors in procedure that render the evidence inadmissible.
Your arguments must be able to undermine at least one criteria of the prosecution’s case, so that you cannot be found guilty.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Attorney
Simple drug possession may not seem like a very serious crime, but it can throw a serious wrench in your plans moving forward. If you have been charged with possession of drugs, an experienced West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can be of help in protecting your rights in court. Contact us today to speak to an attorney.