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Prescription Drug Possession, Sale and Trafficking Charges in Florida: Laws and Defense

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Prescription Drug Possession, Sale and Trafficking Charges in Florida: Laws and Defense

Prescription drug charges in Florida – including possession, sale, and trafficking – are serious criminal offenses that carry steep penalties. With the opioid crisis, law enforcement has cracked down on the illegal use and distribution of prescription medications. Understanding Florida’s laws around prescription drugs and working with an experienced criminal defense attorney are critical to building your case and protecting your rights if you face charges.

Prescription Drug Possession Laws in Florida

Simply having prescription drugs in your possession without a valid prescription can lead to criminal charges in Florida. Possession laws vary based on the type and amount of medication, as well as your intent.

  • Possession of a controlled substance is a third-degree felony in Florida punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines. Controlled substances include prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.
  • Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in jail. Having more than that amount becomes a felony.
  • Possessing prescription drugs without a prescription is a first-degree misdemeanor with up to 1 year in jail.
  • If you possess a prescription medication that belongs to someone else, it is also a misdemeanor offense. Sharing or borrowing prescriptions is illegal.
  • Possessing drug paraphernalia – items used to store or consume drugs – is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Prosecutors can also charge you with felony possession with intent to sell if you have a trafficking amount of a controlled substance. The amount that qualifies depends on the drug. For example, having 4 grams of hydromorphone (Dilaudid), 14 grams of hydrocodone (Vicodin), or 28 grams of oxycodone is enough to trigger a trafficking charge.

Defenses Against Prescription Drug Possession

If you face prescription drug possession charges, a criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights and build a strong defense. Here are some common defenses:

  • Lack of knowledge – If prosecutors can’t prove you knowingly possessed the drugs, then you may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced. For example, if someone left drugs in your car without your knowledge.
  • No intent to possess – If you had no intention of taking ownership or control over the prescription drugs, you may be able to fight the charges. For example, someone hands you a pill bottle to look at.
  • Valid prescription – Having a valid prescription for the medication you possessed is a complete defense against possession charges. But the prescription must be current and issued to you.
  • Misfilled prescription – If a pharmacy gave you the wrong medication or dosage in error, it may provide a defense against possession. But you must not have known about the mistake.
  • Entrapment – If law enforcement coerced or improperly encouraged you into committing the crime, an entrapment defense may apply.
  • Illegal search – If police violated your Fourth Amendment rights by searching you or your property without probable cause, any evidence found may be inadmissible.

Prescription Drug Trafficking Charges in Florida

Selling or distributing prescription drugs illegally – known as drug trafficking – brings much stiffer penalties in Florida. Even possessing a certain amount of drugs can qualify as “trafficking” under Florida law. Trafficking prescription medications is always a felony.For example, having 7 grams of hydrocodone, 4 grams of oxycodone, or just 1 gram of hydromorphone is enough for a trafficking charge. Trafficking penalties include:

  • At least 3 years in prison and $50,000 in fines
  • Up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines

The penalties increase dramatically based on the type and quantity of the drug. Bringing prescription drugs in from another state or country also leads to federal trafficking charges.

Defenses Against Prescription Drug Trafficking

The penalties for prescription drug trafficking charges are severe, so building an aggressive legal defense is critical. An experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer can help protect your rights and freedom. Some possible defenses include:

  • Lack of intent to sell – Just having a large quantity of a drug isn’t enough to prove intent to traffic. The state must show definitive proof you planned to sell the drugs.
  • Entrapment – If law enforcement pressured you into committing a trafficking offense you otherwise wouldn’t have, an entrapment defense may succeed. An undercover officer begging you to get drugs for them, for example.
  • Illegal search – If police found the drugs through an unconstitutional search, the evidence could be suppressed. Any statements you made after an improper arrest would also be inadmissible.
  • Misidentification – Eyewitness misidentification is a common contributor to false convictions. If a witness fingers the wrong person, it undermines the prosecution’s case.
  • Duress – Doing something illegal under threat of harm may provide a duress defense. If a drug trafficker threatened your family unless you sold for them, for example.

Penalties for Prescription Drug Convictions in Florida

The penalties for illegal prescription drug possession, sales, and trafficking depend on the specific charges and your criminal history. Possible sentences include:

  • Possession of a controlled substance – Up to 5 years in prison, $5,000 fine
  • Possession with intent to sell – Up to 15 years in prison, $10,000 fine
  • Drug trafficking – Minimum 3 years up to life in prison, up to $500,000 fine
  • Sales to a minor – Up to life in prison
  • Drug sales near a school – Up to life in prison

Other consequences can include probation or parole, mandatory drug counseling or rehab, community service, loss of voting rights and gun ownership rights, driver’s license suspension, and more. Penalties increase for repeat drug offenders.

Finding the Right Prescription Drug Defense Attorney

Prescription drug charges should not be taken lightly in Florida. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can thoroughly evaluate your case and build the strongest defense to protect your freedom. Be sure to choose an attorney who:

  • Focuses specifically on drug crime defense with deep knowledge of Florida’s laws
  • Has a proven track record of success defending prescription drug cases
  • Will aggressively defend your rights at every stage, from arrest through trial
  • Has experience negotiating with prosecutors to get charges reduced or dismissed
  • Will keep you fully informed and involved in creating your defense strategy
  • Offers honest assessments of your options while fighting tirelessly on your behalf

Don’t leave your future to chance. The right prescription drug defense lawyer can make all the difference in achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

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