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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Will I Be Charged With A Felony Or A Misdemeanor?

Will I Be Charged With A Felony Or A Misdemeanor?


If you have been arrested for a drug offense, one of the most important questions on your mind will almost certainly be the severity of any potential charges you will face. Florida has extremely strict drug laws, due to the state’s history as a trafficking hot spot, and while it is true that most drug offenses are felonies, the fact remains that some sentences will be less severe than others. Understanding Florida’s drug laws can help you be aware of what may come next for you.

Aggravating Factors Matter

Florida’s drug laws are structured to be punitive, partly due to the state’s history, but partly because drug offenses are seen as crimes against society rather than as individual offenses. There are several questions one must ask before determining what level of charges may be assessed against you, but the two major factors determining severity are (1) the schedule of the drug involved; and (2) the amount of the drug (or drug mixture) at issue. The higher the schedule, the higher the amount involved, the more severe the offense will generally be.

In addition to these two factors, Florida law will also take into account what it calls aggravating factors – for example, if your offense involved a minor child, or if a deadly weapon was present, this will generally raise the level of your offense – for example, it might raise a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, or a second-degree felony to a first-degree offense. Florida still has mandatory minimum sentences for many drug crimes, but no real maximums exist.

Schedule & Weight

If you have no aggravating factors present in your case, the schedule and weight of the drugs involved will be the first questions considered by a judge or jury. Florida law, like U.S. federal law, divides drugs into schedules according to their accepted medical usage and addictive potential – for example, MDMA (‘molly’) is a Schedule I drug, because its addictive potential is very high and its medical use is, at least as of this writing, quite limited. Conversely, alprazolam (sold as Xanax) is a Schedule IV drug, despite its potential for addiction, because it has several accepted medical uses.

While the nature of the drug can be a cut-and-dried fact, the weight of the drugs involved can be a more complex issue. Florida law has provisions which automatically raise a charge from possession to trafficking if a person is stopped with enough of a certain drug. However, if the drug in question is mixed with something else, the weight that matters is the weight of the entire mixture – for example, if someone is stopped with a mixture of 5 grams of fentanyl and 3 grams of heroin, they would face fentanyl trafficking charges because the entire mixture weighs 8 grams – far over the limit for fentanyl possession to turn into fentanyl trafficking.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Crimes Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug-related offense, it can be understandable to have lots of questions. A knowledgeable West Palm Beach drug offenses attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. should be your first call – we are ready and willing to work hard to get you your day in court. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.



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