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Florida’s Laws on Drug Possession, Sale and Manufacturing

Florida’s Laws on Drug Possession, Sale and Manufacturing

Florida has some of the strictest drug laws in the country. Possession, sale, delivery, and manufacturing of illegal drugs all carry stiff penalties under Florida statute 893.13. The severity of the charge and penalty depends on the type and amount of drug involved.

Possession of Illegal Drugs

Simple possession of an illegal drug is typically charged as a third-degree felony under Florida law. However, possession of smaller amounts of marijuana and other drugs may be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for drug possession include:

  • Up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fines for a third-degree felony
  • Up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 in fines for a first-degree misdemeanor

Possession of more than 10 grams of certain drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine is charged as a first-degree felony with more severe penalties of up to 30 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to 1 year in jail and $1,000 in fines. Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a third-degree felony.

Some key things to know about Florida’s drug possession laws:

  • You can be charged with possession even if drugs are not found on your person. You can face charges if drugs are found in your car, home, locker, etc. 
  • Sharing drugs with friends (“social sharing”) can still be charged as possession with intent to distribute or sale. 
  • Being under the influence of an illegal drug is not itself illegal in Florida. You cannot be charged with possession simply for having drugs in your system. 
  • However, a DUI charge may apply if you are caught driving under the influence of drugs.

Sale and Delivery of Illegal Drugs

Selling, distributing, transporting, and importing illegal drugs are all prosecuted aggressively under Florida law. Penalties typically depend on the type and quantity of drug involved. For example:

  • Sale of 10-28 grams of cocaine is a first-degree felony with up to 30 years imprisonment. Sale of over 28 grams is charged as drug trafficking with even stiffer penalties. 
  • Delivery of less than 20 grams of marijuana is a third-degree felony while distributing over 25 pounds may carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison. 

Those caught selling prescription drugs without a license also face third-degree felony charges in Florida.

Drug Manufacturing and Trafficking

Manufacturing illegal drugs and drug trafficking are prosecuted most harshly under Florida law. Common charges include:

Manufacturing Methamphetamine

Making meth is charged as a second-degree felony with up to 15 years imprisonment, even for small “personal use” amounts. Operating a meth lab exposes you to first-degree felony charges carrying over 30 years imprisonment.

Marijuana Grow Operations

Cultivating marijuana plants subjects you to a third-degree felony charge in Florida no matter how many plants are grown. Harsher charges may apply for large grow operations with over 25 plants.

Prescription Drug Trafficking

Bringing prescription drugs like oxycodone into Florida with intent to sell or distribute is prosecuted as prescription drug trafficking. Even a relatively small number of pills (4 grams to 30 kilograms) can trigger a first-degree felony with minimum mandatory prison sentences.

Drug Trafficking

The most serious drug charges in Florida are for trafficking a variety of illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, phencyclidine, MDMA, and flunitrazepam. The penalties for drug trafficking depend on the quantity and type of substance but carry minimum mandatory prison sentences from 3 years up to life in prison.

Defenses for Florida Drug Crimes

The severity of penalties for drug crimes in Florida make it critical to obtain legal defense representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Possible defenses to reduce or beat Florida drug charges include:

  • Illegal searches – Evidence from searches conducted without probable cause or a warrant can be excluded. This may apply to vehicle searches, home searches, searches incident to arrest, and more.
  • Entrapment – Undercover officers cannot induce you to commit a crime you otherwise wouldn’t. This applies mostly to drug sting operations.
  • Chain of custody issues – Drugs and other evidence must be properly handled, stored and tested. Mistakes may create doubt about the accuracy of testing.
  • Misidentification – Another person was responsible for the drugs or a lab test mix-up points to the wrong suspect.
  • Medical marijuana – A valid prescription for medical marijuana is a defense against possession charges in Florida.

Because Florida drug laws are complex with many “hidden” penalties, those arrested should exercise their right to remain silent and contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney can properly investigate the charges and identify any procedural mistakes, testing errors, or illegal conduct by police that may lead to reduced penalties or dismissed charges.

I hope this overview on Florida’s drug laws has been helpful. Drug crimes should always be taken very seriously in this state and carrying potentially life-changing penalties. My best advice is to avoid illegal drugs altogether, but if you find yourself facing charges, consult with a lawyer right away to protect your rights. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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