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Possession of a Controlled Substance

Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes — known as the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act — lists hundreds of drugs that are considered "controlled substances." The drugs are ordered into five "schedules" and regulated by the federal and state governments.

In Florida, possession of a controlled substance is a felony unless a doctor prescribed the medication to the person in possession. Many charges for possession of a controlled substance involve prescription medications that are commonly abused, such as Valium, Xanax, OxyContin, and Vicodin.

Even with a valid prescription, using a narcotic or regulated drug while driving under the influence of a controlled substance is illegal. Without a valid prescription, the mere possession of a controlled substance is illegal.

So-called "street" drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD and ecstasy are also controlled substances under § 893. Except for marijuana, possession of any amount of these prescription or street drugs is a felony. The exact charge and penalties depend on the type and amount of the controlled substance that is possessed.

A conviction for possession of a controlled substance can have adverse effects, including: an adjudication on your permanent record, prevent you from getting a job, or a suspension of your driver’s license.  In addition, if you are not a United States citizen, a conviction for an offense related to a controlled substance violation will result in deportation from the U.S., unless certain exceptions apply.

Attorney for Possession of a Controlled Substance in South Miami, Florida

At Hubbs Law, we often defend clients in South Miami and throughout Miami-Dade County who were arrested on a charge of possession of a controlled substance.

E.J. Hubbs is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in the practice of criminal trial law. This means that he has achieved the highest level of evaluation by the Florida Bar for experience and competency within a specific area of law, while reflecting the highest ethics and professionalism in the practice of law.

With a deep knowledge of Florida's drug laws, E.J. Hubbs is prepared to tenaciously defend his clients charged with possession of a controlled substance. In many cases, he may be able to file motions to dismiss evidence or exclude the prosecution's evidence. Alternately, he may be able to transfer a case to Miami-Dade's Drug Court (MDDC). Drug court in Miami is an option for people who seek help for a serious drug addiction.

Hubbs Law represents clients from all over Miami-Dade County, including, Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Hialeah, Miami Gardens, Cutler Bay, Doral, Kendall and other communities within the county. Contact Hubbs Law today at (305) 665-9040 to discuss your case.

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Miami

The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act (Florida Statutes, Title XLVI, Chapter 893) proclaims that "a person may not sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver, a controlled substance." 

Florida law heavily regulates the possession or use of controlled substances listed in the law. It is illegal to possess, cultivate, sell, manufacture, deliver, distribute or traffic in these substances.

Local law enforcement agencies in Miami-Dade County work to locate and dismantle mid-level and upper-level narcotics organizations that operate within the City of Miami through the use of undercover officers, complicated sting operations, and confidential informants.

In the process, the officers often come into contact with and arrest individuals that simply use the drugs without any connection to organized crime. The undercover sting operations are often carried out by law enforcement officers with in the Miami Police Department's Special Investigations Unit for Narcotics.

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Search and Seizure in Drug Possession Cases

An important issue in drug possession cases is often how the controlled substance, narcotics or drugs were discovered. If the police did not explicitly follow the laws related to search and seizure, they may have violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. If so, evidence may be excluded by the court and a reduction or dismissal of charges may result.

A qualified criminal defense attorney will be able to review your case for mistakes made by the police or other law enforcement agencies during the arrest, search, discovery, or testing of any controlled substances.

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Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance

According to the Florida Statutes, a first-degree felony is punishable in Florida by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. 

Upon conviction for a third-degree felony for possession of even a small-but-detectable amount of any controlled substance except marijuana, § 893.13(6) of the statutes prescribes a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Possession of 20 grams or more of marijuana is a third-degree felony; possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Other penalties may include probation, community service, drug counseling and/or treatment, random drug testing and a two-year driver's license suspension, with a one-year "hard" suspension.

In many of these cases, the charges are resolved in drug court or in a regular division for "drug offense probation." Drug offender probation includes a drug evaluation and follow up treatment and frequent urine testing. More serious charges include possession with the intent to sell or drug trafficking.

A felony conviction may also have an adverse impact in certain educational or educational opportunities.

State Charges vs. Federal Charges

Because controlled substances are regulated by both the federal and state governments, possession of a controlled substance may be prosecuted in either federal or state court. Most low-level drug possession charges are adjudicated in state court.

Many state drug possession cases are resolved in the Miami-Dade County Drug Court (MDDC), a diversionary program intended to provide treatment for drug abuse.

Effect of a Conviction on Driving Privileges

In addition to the penalties imposed by a judge or jury in a controlled substance possession case, the court is required to alert the state's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles of the conviction. The DHSMV will then suspend a convicted person's driving privileges for two years, with no chance for a hardship license during a first year of "hard" suspension.

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Additional Resources

Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act  — Read the Florida laws related to possession of a controlled substance at § 893.13 of the Florida Statutes, including prohibited acts and penalties.

Miami-Dade County Drug Court (MDDC) — Visit the website for the Miami-Dade County Drug Court to learn about the nation's first drug court, which began operating in 1989. The site includes helpful information about how the court operates, as well as links for resources, services and useful documents.

Drug Crimes in Miami — Visit the Miami Police Department website to learn more about the Narcotics Unit of the Police Department in Miami, FL.  Find information about how officers with the Narcotics Unit locate and identify mid-level and upper-level narcotics organizations that operate within the City of Miami. See a list of undercover sting operations resulting in charges for armed cocaine trafficking and other serious felony offenses and the seizure of several kilograms of cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy pills, prescription medications, and numerous assault rifles and handguns.

Find an Attorney for Drug, Narcotics or Controlled Substance Charges in Miami, FL

If you were arrested for possession of drugs, narcotics or a controlled substance, or any other drug charges in Miami or anywhere in Miami-Dade County, you should consider contacting Hubbs Law for a confidential discussion about your case.

At Hubbs Law, the initial consultation is always offered to potential clients at no cost. E.J. Hubbs will carefully listen to you and your concerns about your case. Our board certified criminal defense attorney will explain your charges, the penalties you may face if convicted in a trial, possible defense strategies, and the options you have before you make a decision about hiring a lawyer.

In certain circumstances, a first-time drug, narcotics or controlled substance offender may be eligible for a pre-trial intervention program, which could result in a dismissal of charges. In some cases, a defendant may be wiser to proceed to trial.

If the search for a controlled substance was not conducted by the book, an experienced attorney may be able to negotiate for a reduction in charges or a judge may dismiss the case. The goal of Hubbs Law in every case we accept is to avoid a conviction. We will go to trial if necessary.

Call Hubbs Law today at (305) 665-9040 to schedule an appointment to discuss your charge for Possession of a Controlled Substance.

This article was last updated on Friday, January 29, 2016.




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