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Factors In Sentencing For Drug Offenses
Drug possession in Florida is a more complex crime than the average person may think it is. While possession can be established in only one of two ways, there are several different factors that may either partially mitigate the offense, or make it more serious, leading to a harsher sentence if convicted. While obviously, the best way to avoid a conviction for drug possession is to never possess any drugs, it may still be possible to avoid jail time and other serious consequences if you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side.
Name and Weight
Drug possession can be either actual (literal physical control) or constructive (having knowledge of and control over the place where drugs are located). It can be difficult to establish constructive possession without corroborating evidence, but it is possible for a state’s attorney to build a case if the evidence exists. However, the sentence one may face if convicted will differ depending on several factors. The two that are generally present in every case are (1) the specific drug involved; and (2) the weight of the drug or mixture at the time you were stopped.
Florida, like the U.S. federal government, classifies drugs into five different schedules, and the penalty for possession will differ depending on the schedule of the drug in question. For example, possession of alprazolam (Xanax), a Schedule IV drug, will carry less jail time than possession of fentanyl and its derivatives, which are all Schedule I drugs – but possession of, say, 5 grams of fentanyl will lead to a harsher sentence than being stopped with 1 gram.
Potential Options To Avoid Jail Time
In addition to the type and weight of the substance involved in your case, certain factors about you may also affect the direction your case can go. For example, most counties in Florida – including Palm Beach County – have what is known as drug court. Drug court has existed in Florida since 1989, and it is designed to help certain offenders avoid long-term consequences for what may be an isolated mistake. Each county’s court may have different criteria – for example, in Palm Beach County, one must (1) have pending charges other than trafficking or sales; and (2) have no convictions for crimes of violence or trafficking in illegal drugs. Unlike in many counties, Palm Beach County’s program is open to repeat offenders.
In some other states, it may also be possible to plea-bargain into a sentence of probation, but this is much less likely in Florida. The state has a very long history with illegal drugs; from the “cocaine cowboys” of the 1980s to the “pill mills” of the 1990s and 2000s, state’s attorneys are unfortunately used to the fallout from illegal drug possession and trafficking. This is why nearly every drug offense in Florida is at least a third-degree felony – so much harm was done to the state that the legislature determined to get tough, even on the most minor drug offenders.
Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Possession Attorney
If you have been charged with possession of drugs, it is crucial that you take it seriously, including being aware of the potential consequences. Enlisting an experienced West Palm Beach drug crimes attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can ensure that your rights are protected in court. We are ready and willing to try and assist you. Call our offices today to speak to an attorney.