What Is Felony Drug Possession in FL?

Drugs have become significantly less taboo over the years, having been decriminalized in an increasing number of states.


Drugs have become significantly less taboo over the years, having been decriminalized in an increasing number of states. Despite this, it cannot be denied that in many states still, possession of drugs is still considered a rather serious crime. Even if the possession is of a relatively minor drug such as marijuana or even if it is a small amount, that could see you get in trouble. Being that each state handles drug possession differently, it is understandable that you may be a little confused as to how your state does it. In this article, we will analyze how specifically a felony drug possession charge is handled in FL.

Understanding a felony drug possession charge in FL

A felony is not a good thing to have on your record at the best of times, and some felony charges are going to be worse than others. One of the first things to understand how Florida distinguishes between a felony drug possession charge and a misdemeanor drug possession charge, as the difference can save you a major headache — as well as time and money from reduced charges between the two.

Drug possession laws were actually a lot stricter in FL some years back; the reason why these laws were made a little less harsh is because of a popular opinion that the laws were so extreme that it made the crimes seem so extreme that they were comparable in severity to the actual distribution of drugs. Indeed, the laws were set up in such a way that someone who had no criminal record, a relatively small amount of drugs, and/or no history of violence to be treated far more harshly than was necessary or valuable for society. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and the laws were made a little more nuanced.

Some may argue that this system still has a ways to go with them, but it is certainly better than it once was. It is at least a little easier to reduce or dismiss your charges if you do face a felony or misdemeanor drug possession charge in FL than it once was. Basically, for people who do commit a felony or misdemeanor drug charge in the state, instead of going straight to prison (assuming there were no violent encounters or extreme criminality involved in the possession of the drugs), they will go to a ‘drug court’, meant to serve as ways to help people deal with addiction rather than use punitive measures on them.

The goal of such institutions is to hopefully avoid putting them in the system and having them possibly come out worse for it when the crime simply does not call for such a thing to happen.

As far as drug possession goes, an important thing to remember is what doesn’t constitute possession. Basically, if you possess drugs — either a large quantity of a drug that would otherwise be considered a misdemeanor or a heavier drug like cocaine or heroin — without intent to distribute, manufacturer, or sell, you will face that kind of charge.

The largest amount of marijuana you can possess at a time is 20 grams. Any more than that, a misdemeanor charge will no longer apply. If you share your drugs even, that may escalate the charge to distribution, even if the amount you share with someone is only a small amount, or if you only share it once. This kind of strictness has received criticism as being unreasonable, as much like how the previous laws were perceived as too strict compared to laws meant to deal with drug dealers.

When determining that a drug possession charge applies, felony or misdemeanor, a prosecutor has a burden of proof to fulfill. Namely, they must show that the defendant was aware of the nature of the drug’s presence or its nature as a drug, whether the substance is actually a controlled substance under Florida law specifically, and whether the substance was under the control of the defendant. In cases involving the sale of drugs, all of the above must be present, as well as evidence that the defendant either sold the drug or intended to sell it.

Proving possession is not the easiest thing in the world to do. One of the reasons why this is the case is because drug discoveries made by the police are very often done so in a home or a car and proving that they were aware of the drug’s presence is not simple. If you cannot show that they knew the drugs were there — such as if they were shown to have been under the influence of the drug found — then they will go free, the only thing they lose out on is the drugs found. One of the reasons why it is good to have that limitation is because planting drugs is something that has been all too common. Sometimes it can be done by people with a grudge, or people even just accidentally leaving their drugs on your property. One such problematic instance is the planting of drugs by police, which in some states, merely possessing a controlled substance is a crime.

A person faced with a felony drug charge is best advised to seek quality legal representation with a lawyer who has experience with these kinds of cases. If you do need such representation, reach out to someone immediately.

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