Tallahassee Drug Possession Attorney
Possession might sound like a minor offense compared to a charge such as trafficking, but make no mistake; the only difference between possession and trafficking in Florida law is often the amount of and type of drug possessed. Drug possession is a serious criminal offense that can even be charged as a felony depending on the type and amount of drugs involved. You should also know that the Tallahassee police will arrest you and the prosecutors will charge you with the most severe offense they can. But the facts might not support a conviction for the crime they have charged, and you might not be guilty of any crime at all. Before you fall victim to the government’s threats and intimidation, give Tallahassee drug possession attorney Luke Newman a call. At Luke Newman, P.A., you’ll get an honest assessment of the charges against you and a clear understanding of your options. You’ll also get strong and aggressive representation from a dedicated attorney who will fight for you and devote all his resources toward getting you the best outcome in your case. If you’ve been arrested for possession of controlled substances in Tallahassee, call Luke Newman, P.A. for immediate assistance.
The Crime of Possession in Florida
Possession charges could arise from the possession of illegal street drugs such as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine, as well as possession of any prescription drug, such as opioids, without a valid prescription. Depending on the drug and the amount involved, possession could be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony. The difference between these two charges means the difference of spending up to a year in the Leon County jail and being fined up to $1,000 or spending up to five years in a Florida state prison and being fined $5,000 if convicted of the charged offense. Some possession offenses can even be charged as a second-degree felony or higher, particularly if the state can prove possession with intent to sell.
To prove the crime of possession, the state would have to prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt. They have to prove:
- Illegal Substance – The alleged substance is in fact defined in Florida statutes as a controlled substance. Proving this requires the prosecutor to produce the drugs in court and present evidence as to their nature. This may seem like an easy thing to do, but sometimes the government does not produce the drugs in court or has not gone to the trouble of establishing what the substance is and how much of it there is. This is an essential element of the crime of possession; if the state can’t prove this element, we’ll fight to get the case dismissed or secure an acquittal.
- Possession – The state has to prove either actual or constructive possession. If drugs were found on your person or a bag you were holding, that’s actual possession. Constructive possession, on the other hand, means drugs were found in an area that you had control over. This could be the car you were driving or your bedroom in a shared apartment, for example. A smart defense attorney can often attack the government’s case on possession, particularly when they are alleging the more subjective form of constructive possession.
- Knowledge – You must have known of the presence of the substance. This means you knew the substance was there and that it was illegal. If the police raid a private home or public gathering and find drugs present, for example, they are likely to arrest everyone present and charge them with possession. It’s not enough just to prove you were there, though. They have to be able to prove you knew illegal drugs were present in an area over which you excercised control.
Most crimes also have an intent element that must be proven. Here, the government might try to prove that you possessed the substance with the intent to sell it, which will increase the offense to a third or second-degree felony, significantly raising the stakes and consequences of a conviction. The state might press possession with intent to sell or even trafficking charges based on the quantity of drugs involved, but that alone might not be enough to prove your intent.
Defenses to Florida Drug Possession Charges
At Luke Newman, P.A., we’ll hold the government to its burden of proving every element of the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, and wherever applicable, we’ll challenge whether the state has met its burden and raise reasonable doubt for the jury to consider. Other defenses which might apply to a drug possession case include:
- Search and Seizure – The police cannot show authority and stop you on the street, pull over your vehicle, or enter your home without a legal reason. Depending on the circumstances, the police need reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a warrant. If you were subject to an unconstitutional search, then any drugs, paraphernalia or other evidence they turn up was illegally seized and cannot be used against you. The same goes for a search that might have been justified at its start but then exceeded its allowable scope under the Constitution. Tallahassee criminal defense lawyer Luke Newman is well-versed in Florida and federal search and seizure laws and knows how to raise these issues appropriately and effectively.
- Entrapment – Law enforcement agencies have a lot of tools and resources to spend in their war on drugs, and a standard practice is to use cooperating snitches to buy or sell drugs. If you were coerced into buying drugs and then charged with possession, or pressured into selling drugs you possessed for personal use and then charged with intent to sell, the police might have crossed the line from legitimate sting operations to illegal entrapment. Law enforcement officers are sometimes overzealous in their investigation and prosecution of drug crimes; Luke Newman, P.A. is a zealous defender of the rights of the accused.
Fight for Your Freedom After a Drug Possession Arrest in Tallahassee
Don’t take chances when your future is at stake. An experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer can vigorously defend you against the charges you are faced with and fight to get you the best result, from negotiating a favorable plea with probation or pre-trial diversion to winning a not guilty verdict in court. If you’ve been charged with drug possession in Tallahassee, call Luke Newman, P.A. for immediate assistance.