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Drug Laws and the State of Florida

A recent case surfaced in Miami Beach where a popular barber was arrested after a comprehensive undercover sting. The barber was charged with several drug charges including 10 counts of marijuana possession and selling; seven counts of cocaine possession and selling; five counts of ecstasy possession and selling; and two counts of using communications devices in an unlawful act. He is currently being held on a $120,000 bond.

Drug charges can vary from a misdemeanor to first-degree felony charges depending on the type of controlled substance and the amount involved in the crime. Different types of drug charges can come from simple possession for personal use, or if the intent of the controlled substance is for sale. Here is some information on the drug laws in the state of Florida.

Drug Possession Charges

Someone could be charged with drug possession if they did not manufacture, distribute, or sell the illegal substance. In these cases, the drugs were most likely for personal use; however, there is still the possibility that the defendant may be charged with a serious felony.

If you are in possession of marijuana, the state of Florida does allow a first-degree misdemeanor charge for simple possession less than 20 grams unless it is for medical use. However, most other amounts over that will be charged as a felony. With a misdemeanor charge, you may still face up to a year in jail.

In a drug possession case, a prosecutor must prove three things:

1. The material is a controlled substance according to the state of Florida.

2. The defendant knew that the controlled substance was illegal.

3. The defendant had control over the location and presence of the controlled substance.

A person can be charged with a third-degree felony if he or she is in possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, up to 28 grams of cocaine, up to 10 grams of MDMA/ecstasy, up to one gram of LSD, or up to four grams of heroin. A third-degree felony conviction may get you up to five years in prison.

To be charged with a first-degree felony, a person must have more than 25lbs of marijuana, more than 28 grams of cocaine, more than 10 grams of MDMA/ecstasy, more than one gram of LSD, or more than four grams of heroin. With a first-degree felony drug possession conviction, you may be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

Defenses to Drug Possession Charges

A lack of knowledge that the material was a controlled substance or entrapment by police is a couple of defenses to possession charges. Additionally, if you have a valid prescription for medical marijuana use, or if your fourth amendment right against illegal search and seizures was violated, you may also have a defense to these types of charges.

Drug Possession with the Intent to Sell

If a charge states that there was intent to sell the drugs in possession, the prosecution will need to show evidence that proves that the defendant was aware and intent on selling the drugs in the case.

These types of crimes can be punished as a first-degree felony with up to 30 years in prison. The specific charge and punishment will depend on the type of substance and the amount involved in the crime.

Defenses to Drug Trafficking

Defenses to drug trafficking, or selling, can be similar to possession. Possible defenses include: If there was not an intention to sell or distribute the drugs; entrapment by police; or an unlawful search and seizure in violation of the fourth amendment.

In any situation where someone is arrested and charged with drug possession and/or trafficking, it's important that they contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A defense attorney can help the accused better understand the charges against him or her, and formulate a defense in the case.

References:

Florida Drug Possession Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/florida-drug-possession-laws.html

Rabin, C. (n.d.). Barber got good Yelp reviews. That's not why Miami Beach cops kept going to his shop. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article209699969.html

Florida Drug Distribution Laws. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://statelaws.findlaw.com/florida-law/florida-drug-distribution-laws.html

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