Over the course of the last forty years, the “war on drugs” has ruined a staggering number of lives, and destroyed countless families. Conviction of even a minor drug crime in the state of Florida has the potential to have life altering consequences that can never be outrun. A drug conviction can inhibit job prospects, rental and home ownership opportunities, and the loss of voting and gun possession rights.
If you have been charged with a drug crime in Jacksonville, expert legal representation could be the difference between freedom and a stigma that will follow you for life. Even a minor cannabis possession charge of less than 20 grams could carry a jail sentence of up to a year. Alexander J. Smith-Johnson, Esq has the courtroom experience, and deep understanding of Florida drug laws to be the Jacksonville criminal defense attorney that you need when charged with a drug related offense.
“Drug Crime” is an umbrella term under which a variety of substances are subject to regulation, oversight, and prosecution for unlawful manufacture, possession, sale, delivery or trafficking. The substances that fall under the categorization of a controlled substance are illegal to possess in the state of Florida include but are not limited to:
Possession is defined under Florida law refers to the ability to exercise the right to ownership, management and control over contraband. The wording here is quite important, because it means that possession of a controlled substance does not have to mean drug in hand or within reach, or “actual possession.” “Constructive possession” can be charged against a person for just being in the proximity of a controlled substance; if drugs are hidden or ensconced nearby, for instance.
The overwhelming majority of drug crimes in Florida are felonies, but even simple possession comes with consequences.
Misdemeanor Possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis without a prescription, is the most serious misdemeanor charge legally allowable by law. This charge can result in jail time or probation, and revocation of one’s driver’s license.
Third Degree Felony Possession refers to possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis, or even a smaller amount, around ten grams, of any other controlled substance is a charge that carries a maximum sentence of as much as $5,000 dollars in fines, and five years in jail with five years’ probation.
Second Degree Felony Possession charges can refer to possession of larger amounts of controlled substances, ostensibly for distribution or sale, or the possession of chemicals needed to manufacture drugs like Ecstasy or crystal methamphetamine. A second-degree drug felony charge carries a prison sentence of up to fifteen years behind bars, and as much as $10,000 in fines.
First Degree Felony Possession involves the possession of extremely large amounts of controlled substances, at which time the charge upgrades to Trafficking. In the case of cannabis:
Drug trafficking sentences for cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other Schedule One drugs carry similar sentencing guidelines.
If you’re facing a felony drug charge, you need a lawyer experienced in federal crime to help craft your defense.
As we have seen, even a minor drug charges come with outsized consequences, and it is important to understand that the other side of these drug laws, is the burden of proof that rests on the shoulders of law enforcement officers and state appointed prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officers had reason to stop the defendant, and further reason to search the defendant. This means that at the very least, that officer or officers must have had a reasonable suspicion that the defendant was recently, or is currently involved in the commission of an unlawful act.
If the charge comes as a result of contraband found in a car or a private home without the latitude of a search warrant, authorities would need probable cause to believe there was evidence of commission of a crime. While there are exceptions, such as the smell of cannabis, or the visual confirmation contraband, any evidence obtained from a stop or search that was not conducted to the letter of the law is fertile ground for a successful legal defense of a felony drug crime charge.
Alexander J. Smith-Johnson, Esq. has a lengthy and award-winning history defending cases such as marijuana possession and possession of paraphernalia as a Public Defender with over six hundred cases resolved. Let his passion for justice and the law work in your defense if you need a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer to help you defend against impending drug charges, call Alexander J. Smith-Johnson, Esq. today.