Operating a Drug House

Operating a Drug HouseIn the State of Florida, it’s against the law to maintain a dwelling for the purposes of using, selling, or storing drugs. If a house or apartment—or even a car, ship, or aircraft—is found to be a vessel for such purposes, it can be declared by legal authorities as a drug dwelling or drug house. The crime is considered a third-degree felony in Florida. If you’ve been charged with operating a drug house, whether you knew about the illegal drug use on your property or not, you’re in jeopardy of serving time in jail, paying hefty fines, and taking a hit to your reputation.

Fortunately, if you’ve been charged with any kind of drug offense from possession to owning or renting a drug house, the expert criminal defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm can help. As former state and city prosecutors, we understand the techniques and strategies used to prosecute drug crimes, including operating a drug house. We represent clients confronting drug crime charges across Central Florida at both the state and federal level and have experience reducing or completely eliminating these types of charges.

What Is Considered a Drug House According to Florida Law?

Florida Statute 823.10 outlines the laws surrounding a “place where controlled substances are illegally kept, sold, or used” by the following terms:

“Any store, shop, warehouse, dwelling house, building, structure, vehicle, ship, boat, vessel, or aircraft, or any place whatever, which is visited by persons for the purpose of unlawfully using any substance controlled under chapter 893 or any drugs as described in chapter 499, or which is used for the illegal keeping, selling, or delivering of the same, shall be deemed a public nuisance.”

Likewise, Florida Statute 893.1351 further describes the illegality of owning, leasing, or renting a place for the purpose of trafficking a controlled substance:

“A person may not own, lease, or rent any place, structure, or part thereof, trailer, or other conveyance with the knowledge that the place, structure, trailer, or conveyance will be used for the purpose of trafficking in a controlled substance.”

The penalties associated with keeping or maintaining a drug house—a crime classified as a third-degree felony in Florida—include up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. These same consequences apply to anyone aiding or abetting someone else in keeping or maintaining a drug house. Additionally, if a person is in “actual” or “constructive” possession of such a dwelling, the penalty is upgraded to a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Is a House Party Involving Drugs Considered a Drug House?

Your attorney may argue that the personal use of drugs by a homeowner doesn’t equate to maintaining a drug house, even if that individual invites others over to the home. Though using an illegal substance is an inherent violation of the law, courts don’t always regard the occasional consumption of drugs in a home by guests as proof that the home is a “drug house.” In these cases, the defense usually focuses on the ambiguity of the government’s proof that drug use is the main purpose for which the defendant maintains the home. As long as the primary reason for such a gathering isn’t to use, sell, or traffic an illegal substance, your lawyer can argue for a reduced sentence.

To that end, when a house, dwelling, car, or similar place is being used for more than one purpose—like sleeping and selling drugs—the defendant’s purpose in maintaining the premises isn’t always clear. Though most courts have concluded that a drug-related purpose doesn’t need to be the only reason for which a defendant maintains the premises for it to be considered a drug house, the courts have also stated that merely using an illegal substance in your home isn’t enough of a reason to consider the home a drug dwelling.

Contact the Trusted Attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm

If you or a loved one have been arrested for operating a drug house 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 drug house law and serve to protect our clients from further punishment and damage to their reputation.

With more than 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.