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Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of a controlled substance is an offense that can be pressed when a person has power over a controlled substance or gains access and retains controlled substances lacking the suitable right. Controlled substances are non-prescribed prescription medication, illegal drugs, physical and mental restricting or controlling substances.

These charges often can be tricky. For instance, possessing a controlled substance while driving, regardless of the rightful owner, can result in the charge if you are knowledgeable of the substance being in the vehicle. These charges can be misdemeanor or felony offenses, depending on the type of drug allegedly possessed and the amount involved in the offense.

St. Petersburg Possession of a Controlled Substance Lawyer

Possession charges can have a serious impact on a person’s life, and a conviction could be devastating. If you are facing charges for possession of a controlled substance, contact a St. Petersburg drug possession defense attorney at Morris Law Firm, P.A..

Melinda Morris, managing partner of Morris Law Firm, P.A., is an experienced drug defense lawyer who was a state attorney responsible for prosecuting a range of very serious drug offenses from investigation through trial. She understands what it takes to get a conviction, and this first-hand experience can be beneficial when building a strong defense for your case.

Morris Law Firm, P.A. represents clients throughout the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg, Bartow, New Port Richey, Dade City, Plant City, Clearwater and other surrounding areas. Call (727) 388-4736 to schedule a free consultation and begin preparing your defense today.

Information About Drug Possession Charges

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Definitions of Possession

It is illegal for someone to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance without legal permission, according to Florida Statutes Annotated § 893.13. There are certain situations in which possessing the substance could be considered legal, such as having a valid prescription.

In these cases, being in actual possession of the substance means the person physically possessed it. This could mean having the substance in a pocket or having it in his or her hand, for example. Constructive possession, however, is a little trickier.

Being in constructive possession of an illegal narcotic means a person had the illegal substance in such close proximity that it is considered to be under that person’s dominion or control. This often is applied when a substance is located under the seat of a car or in a person’s belongings where he or she has control.

Some controlled substances that could lead to possession charges include:

  • Marijuana or cannabis
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • LSD
  • MDMA
  • Methamphetamines 
  • Codeine
  • Xanax
  • Morphine

If the prosecution is unable to prove an alleged offender had either actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance, he or she will be unable to charge the alleged offender with a possession offense. For instance, if the drugs were found as a result of an illegal search, the evidence could be inadmissible.

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Drug Schedules in Florida

Florida is one of several states that classifies narcotics based on schedules. According to Florida Statutes § 893.03, controlled substances are outlined in different classes, ranging from Schedule I to Schedule V, from the least addictive with commonly used medical purposes to the most addictive with no known medical use.

  • Schedule I — High potential for abuse and no acknowledged medical use
  • Schedule II — High potential for abuse and a very limited accepted medical use
  • Schedule III — Potential for abuse, but lower than Schedule I or II drugs and an accepted medical use
  • Schedule IV — Lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs and accepted medical uses
  • Schedule V — Lowest potential for abuse and accepted medical uses

The penalties for drug possession charges vary largely based on the schedule of the drug or drugs involved in the offense. For instance, drugs with a lower schedule often do not carry the same harsh punishments as other more serious controlled substances.

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Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of a controlled substance generally is a third-degree felony, which can carry up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both. However, if the offense involves a narcotic classified as a Schedule V substance or 20 grams or less of marijuana, the charge would be considered a first-degree misdemeanor. This could be punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

The substance volume and the establishing of the intent to sell will influence the potential penalties. This means if a person is arrested with a large amount of narcotics and drug paraphernalia that could suggest the intent to sell, officers could change the charge to possession with the intent to sell. This could be a more serious offense.

If convicted of any narcotics possession, a Florida resident also could have his or her driver’s license suspended for two years. Additionally, a conviction could mean probation, community service, routine drug testing, rehabilitation and expensive court fees.

Drug rehabilitation programs often are available for first-time offenders, depending on the situation. As long as the offender complies will the stated requirements, they will be safe of felony sentencing. Failure to comply with the program or recording positive drug test results could mean the original sentence, which would include jail time and a felony charge on permanent record.

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Finding A Pinellas County Drug Possession Defense Attorney

Drug offenses such as possession of a controlled substance are very severe and may seriously affect all aspects of your life. You do not have to face the legal system alone. Contact a St. Petersburg drug possession defense lawyer at Morris Law Firm, P.A.. We can help you build a strong defense against the charges and work to get a favorable outcome in your case.