Controlled Substance Abuse

Controlled Substance AbuseIn the eyes of the law, a controlled substance is considered any medication or chemical that can cause physical or mental dependence and has restrictions on its manufacturing, possession, or use. The State of Florida criminalizes and routinely prosecutes individuals found to be abusing, possessing, or selling certain narcotic drugs and prescription medications without a prescription. These substances, collectively known as “controlled substances,” are categorized into five “schedules” under Florida Law.

From the penalties associated with the most common kinds of controlled substance convictions to the types of defense strategies you can employ based on the nature of your case, we’ve broken down everything you need to know.

Drug Schedules in Florida

Florida is one of several states that classify narcotics based on schedules. These groupings range from Schedule V to Schedule I, from the least addictive with commonly used medical purposes to the most addictive with no known medical use.

  • Schedule I: High potential for abuse; no acknowledged medical use
  • Schedule II: High potential for abuse; a very limited accepted medical use
  • Schedule III: Potential for abuse, but lower than Schedule I or II drugs; an accepted medical use
  • Schedule IV: Lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs; accepted medical uses
  • Schedule V: Lowest potential for abuse; accepted medical uses

The penalties for drug charges vary largely based on the schedule of the drugs involved in the offense. Drugs with a lower schedule often don’t carry the same harsh punishments as other more serious controlled substances.

Florida Laws and Penalties Associated with the Possession of a Controlled Substance

Florida Statute 893.13(6)(a) outlines the laws against possessing a controlled substance according to the following terms:

“A person may not be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance unless such substance was lawfully obtained from a practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription / order of a practitioner while acting in the course of their professional practice or to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance except as otherwise authorized by this chapter.”

Any person who violates this provision commits a felony of the third degree, which may include up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and five years of probation. However, if the offense involves a narcotic classified as a Schedule V substance or 20 grams or less of marijuana, the charge would be considered a first-degree misdemeanor, which is a lesser offense. In this case, a person may face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Likewise, the collateral consequences of such a conviction can be severe. For instance, if you’re convicted of possession of a controlled substance in Florida, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may suspend your driver’s license for a period of one year, regardless of whether an automobile was involved in the offense.

Additionally, a felony conviction may result in the loss of your civil rights, including your right to vote, right to bear arms, and right to serve on a jury. Current and future employment opportunities may also be jeopardized.

Florida Laws and Penalties Associated with the Sale of a Controlled Substance

Florida laws that relate to the sale of controlled substances can be very complex, and the penalties are based on a number of factors. Paramount amongst them is whether the charge is being pursued as a felony or a misdemeanor. Penalties will be determined not only by the quantity that’s allegedly sold but also by the particular classification of the drug.

Felony sale of controlled substances is divided into three categories, each with varying jail or prison time if convicted:

  • First-degree felony: Up to 25 years in prison
  • Second-degree felony: Up to 15 years in prison
  • Third-degree felony: Up to 5 years in prison

When charged with sale of controlled substances as a misdemeanor, you could face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Penalties can be enhanced at sentencing if the offense is committed within 1,000 feet of specific properties, if the offense includes a minor, or if you’re considered a habitual offender with multiple past convictions.

Controlled Substance Defense Strategies

A knowledgeable Orlando criminal defense lawyer will best be able to provide you with an adequate defense strategy based on the nature of the alleged crime, the type of drugs in question, and the amount being used or sold. With that being said, there are a few commonly utilized defense strategies that may apply. These include:

  • Illegal search and seizure: This defense can be used if law enforcement officers use their power incorrectly and illegally require individuals to submit to a vehicle, home, or body search.
  • Lack of knowledge: In order for an individual to be charged with possessing a controlled substance, the state must prove that the accused had knowledge of the possession.
  • Prescription: If you have a valid prescription and have been charged with possession of a controlled substance because you were unable to provide proof at the time of arrest, you can provide your attorney with a prescription that was issued prior to your arrest and the charges may be dismissed.

If you’ve been arrested for any crime associated with controlled substance abuse, it’s important that you contact the experts at The Umansky Law Firm as soon as possible so we can begin strategizing the most effective ways to protect your rights and reduce or completely eliminate the charges against you.

Contact the Trusted Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm

If you or a loved one has been arrested for abusing a controlled substance in Florida and need help protecting your rights, the expert legal team at The Umansky Law Firm can help. As former prosecutors and public defenders on a state and local level, our Orlando criminal defense attorneys can provide you with a sound strategy and a concrete defense based on years of experience working in the Florida criminal justice system. We understand the ins and outs of Florida controlled substance law and serve to protect our clients from further punishment and damage to their reputation.

With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our team has the time and expertise to launch an investigation into your case and the circumstances leading up to your arrest. We’ll work tirelessly to fight for your rights. Give us a call at (407) 228-3838 or complete our online contact form to receive a free consultation.