DRUG POSSESSION – DRUG TRAFFICKING IN FLORIDA
Overview of Florida Drug Possession Laws
Since the 1960s and especially during the Vietnam War period, the United States has been fighting a war on drugs. Drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and cannabis (marijuana) became popular amongst soldiers returning home from war, teenagers, young adults and even some older people. In particular the cocaine trafficking issue became of major concern when local street dealers began to mix it with other products. They began to sell crack as it was called in the 1980s and free basing in the late 1960s and 1970s. Technically free basing and crack are different but they had the same horrible result on individuals from the ghettos to the wealthiest communities.
The lawyers at the Fort Lauderdale Law Firm of Berman and Tsombanakis, LLC, have handled thousands of cases involving drug possession, drug trafficking, as well as other major felonies and misdemeanors that are related to drug crimes. We have represented clients in Palm Beach, Miami Dade and Broward County as well as clients in other areas across the State of Florida. Drug possession charges range from first degree misdemeanor charges of possession of cannabis also known as marijuana to major life felony charges of drug trafficking/felony murder.
In Florida, “simple possession” is an offense for possession by a defendant who did not manufacture, distribute, or sell the controlled substance. More than likely the drugs were for the defendant’s own use. States such as New York and California have made such offenses civil infractions, with the defendants simply paying a fine for said possession. After this past election in November, Colorado and Washington legalize marijuana for recreational use.
This has sparked a debate all across the country from both politicians to everyday people, as to whether marijuana and some other drugs should be legalized. Some argue that this will cut down on crime and it will provide individuals with marijuana that is free of other harmful drugs and synthetic products. One such case was the one that drew international attention last year when a naked man attacked a homeless man on South Beach during Memorial Day Weekend. This case became known as the face eating (zombie case). The homeless man is still recovering from his very critical injuries and his attacker was shot to death by the police when they alleged that he was about to attack them, as they approached him.
Simple possession of most controlled substances may be charged as a third degree felony as well. This depends on the quantity of marijuana. If it is greater than 20 grams, the State may charge the Defendant with felony possession of cannabis (marijuana). Often times if the amount is fairly close to 20 grams, but still greater than 20, the State may agree to reduce the charge to a first degree misdemeanor charge for simple possession of cannabis (marijuana) in an amount less than twenty grams.
To establish the elements of drug possession, the State of Florida must prove as follows:
- The illegal nature of the controlled substance: The prosecutor must present evidence that the seized material is a controlled substance as defined by Florida law. This element generally requires scientific analysis by a crime lab.
- The defendant’s knowledge of the drug: The prosecutor must show that the defendant actually knew or should have known about the illicit nature of the controlled substance and its presence.
- The defendant’s control of the drug: The prosecutor must prove that the defendant had control over the location and presence of the controlled substance.
Case such as these are easier to prove if the defendant actually possesses the drugs on their body at the time of the arrest or if it is located in their home at the time the warrant is executed and there is a clear link as to the defendant’s knowledge of said drugs in their home. If it is a dwelling occupied by many individuals, this can get complicated. Especially in rooming houses, shelters, dormitories and even in single family homes where a child or even a spouse may have drugs in the home for personal use and/or trafficking and the other individuals in the home are not aware of this.
In addition to the street drugs as they are often termed, over the last 10-20 years, we have seen an increase in the abuse of prescription drugs. The prosecution of prescription drug abuse and pill mill cases has sky rocketed. Especially the last five years. Since, Governor Rick Scott was elected, there have been widespread shutdowns of illegal pill mill operations all over South Florida. These cases have involved Medicaid fraud involving doctors, nurses, social workers and counselors to the street drug trafficker who can sell some pills for as much as $20.00-30.00 per pill.
If you or a family member has been arrested for possession of cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, crack, drug trafficking, or any crime related to drug offenses, anywhere in Broward County, Miami-Dade County, or Palm Beach County, please email or call one of the lawyers at the Criminal Defense Law Firm of Berman & Tsombanakis LLC. at (954) 764-6099 or (954) 524-6911. We will be happy to discuss your case with you at length and chart the best course of action and put forth the best and most aggressive legal defense.