Strategies For Getting Drug Charges Reduced In Florida

In Florida, getting arrested for drug charges can be a harrowing experience, especially considering the state's strict narcotics laws. While the penalties for a drug conviction may be severe in Florida, there are many strategies that defense attorneys use to get these charges reduced or even dropped.

Whether you were recently arrested for drug charges for the first time or you’ve been through the system before, keep reading to learn about some of the strategies a defense attorney might use in your case.

Drug smuggler under arrest

Florida’s Drug Laws

The penalties for drug possession and trafficking in Florida can vary depending on the type and amount of drugs involved and the person's criminal record. With the right defense strategy and the assistance of an experienced attorney, individuals can explore various options to reduce or dismiss their charges.

Classification And Schedules Of Controlled Substances

In Florida, illegal drugs are classified into five different categories based on their abuse potential, medical benefits, and safety. The schedules are as follows:

  • Schedule I: High potential for abuse; no recognized medical use. Examples are heroin, LSD, and MDMA.
  • Schedule II: High potential for abuse; some recognized medical uses. Examples include cocaine, methamphetamine, and oxycodone.
  • Schedule III: Moderate abuse potential; accepted medical use. Examples include anabolic steroids and ketamine.
  • Schedule IV: Low potential for abuse; accepted medical use. Examples are Xanax and Valium.
  • Schedule V: Low potential for abuse; accepted medical use. Examples include limited amounts of codeine and other over-the-counter medications.

Drug Possession vs. Trafficking

Drug possession and drug trafficking are two distinct offenses in Florida, with different penalties depending on the type and amount of substance controlled and other factors.

Drug Possession Charges

There are two types of drug possession charges: actual possession (when you have the drugs on your person) and constructive possession (when you have the drugs in a place, such as a vehicle, that you have control over). The different penalties for possession might include:

  • Marijuana (20 grams or less): First-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Cocaine, meth, heroin, and other Schedule I and II substances: Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Drug Trafficking Charges

Intent to sell, deliver, or manufacture controlled substances can result in harsher penalties in Florida. Penalties depend on the type and quantity of drug involved. For example:

  • Cocaine: Trafficking 28 to 200 grams is a first-degree felony punishable by a minimum of 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
  • Marijuana: Trafficking 25 pounds to 2,000 pounds is a first-degree felony punishable by a minimum of 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.
  • Heroin: Trafficking of 4 to 14 grams is a first-degree felony punishable by at least three years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Strategies For Getting Drug Charges Reduced

Once you’ve retained an attorney for your defense, they will begin discussing legal strategy and possible options for your defense. The strategy will depend on your case's circumstances, your prior criminal history, and other factors. Here are some of the ways in which an experienced criminal defense attorney might attempt to get the charges reduced.

Plea Deals And Diversion Programs

Plea bargaining involves negotiating with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser charge, often resulting in a reduced sentence or probation. Diversion programs, on the other hand, allow first-time offenders to participate in a drug court or treatment program instead of being tried and convicted.

The charges may be dropped upon successful program completion, or the individual may receive a suspended sentence.

Proving Lack Of Intent Or Knowledge

Another strategy to reduce drug charges is to prove that the person lacked the intent or knowledge that they were in possession of drugs. This could include proving that the defendant didn't know they were carrying drugs or that they didn't intend to distribute or use the drugs.

Establishing this lack of intent or knowledge can lead to a dismissal or reduction of charges, depending on the case's particular circumstances.

Entrapment And Rights Violations

Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials induce someone to commit an offense they would not otherwise have committed. If it can be proven that the person was entrapped, the charges can be dropped.

Similarly, if a person's rights were violated during their arrest, such as through an unlawful search and seizure, the evidence obtained may be deemed inadmissible in court. This could result in the charge not being prosecuted, ultimately leading to a dismissal or reduction of the charge.

Consequences Of A Drug Conviction In Florida

For most drug offenses, fines can be imposed, the amount of which depends on the severity of the offense. A misdemeanor drug possession charge can result in a fine of up to $1,000, while felony drug trafficking convictions can result in much higher fines, as much as tens of thousands of dollars.

Penalties And Sentencing Framework

Individuals charged with drug possession may be subject to probation, community service, mandatory drug education or treatment programs, jail time, or a combination of these penalties. Jail time for drug possession generally ranges from a few days to several years, depending on the type and amount of substance controlled, prior convictions, and other circumstances.

More serious drug offenses such as drug trafficking, manufacturing, and intent to sell or deliver drugs are generally classified as felonies. A conviction for a drug offense can result in a harsh sentence, including a minimum term of imprisonment. For example, trafficking in illegal drugs such as fentanyl and cocaine can result in a life sentence.

Impact On Criminal Record And Employment

A drug conviction can remain on a person's criminal record indefinitely, affecting their ability to obtain housing, a loan, or an education. It can also result in the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote or bear arms.

In some cases, a drug conviction can lead to the revocation of a driver's license. This revocation can last up to two years, making it difficult for those convicted to keep a job or attend necessary appointments.

A criminal record related to drugs impacts the ability to find and keep a job. Employers often conduct background checks and will not hire individuals with drug-related convictions, regardless of how minor they are or how unrelated they are to the job. Additionally, certain professions, such as education or healthcare, have strict requirements prohibiting people with criminal records from working in those fields.

Speak To A Defense Attorney Today About Your Charges

If you’re facing misdemeanor or felony drug charges in Florida, you should contact the Weinstein Legal Team right away to discuss your case.  Our defense attorneys are former Florida prosecutors who understand how the system works and how to advocate on your behalf.

Call us now to speak with a lawyer at 888-626-1108, or click here to schedule your case review.

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