Written by attorney Timothy Graf Hessinger

Drug Possession Charges and Penalties

Illegal possession of a controlled substance can result in serious criminal penalties for the accused. However, skilled legal counsel may help reduce or eliminate the penalties that an individual faces.

Controlled substances are those substances which are heavily regulated by the law. Illegal possession, cultivation, distribution, or trafficking of controlled substances can result in serious criminal consequences for the accused if they are ultimately convicted.

If you were arrested because the police found drugs on your person, in your vehicle, in your home, on or in your personal property, then you may be charged with drug possession. Drug offenses can be prosecuted in either the state or federal courts; the punishment that you face for drug possession will vary depending upon what type of drug that was found, and how much of it there was.

For instance, the penalties for possessing less than 20 grams of cannabis (marijuana) will be far less serious than possessing more than 10 grams of a controlled substance such as cocaine or heroin. The difference between the two above examples is up to one year in a county jail for the marijuana charge versus up to thirty years in prison for the heroin or cocaine charge.

Some of the more common controlled substances for which people are arrested for possession in the Tampa Bay area include: marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, and heroin. It is also illegal to possess LSD, methamphetamines, LSD, barbiturates and hashish.

In addition to the above controlled substances, a person can be charged with possession if they have prescription painkillers or stimulants without a valid prescription. Some of the drugs in this category include: oxycodone, vicodin and xanax to name a few. This is one offense that a lot of average people commit without being aware of the criminal consequences. A person cannot “take" their friends prescription medication, or a spouse’s, or a family member’s because it was not prescribed to them by a licensed medical doctor.

If a person is convicted of a drug possession crime, he or she may be required to attend a drug diversionary program, they may get probation, and in a severe case they may have to serve time in a state or federal prison. Furthermore, a conviction for possession will also result in administrative penalties as well, meaning that the individual will have his or her driver’s license suspended by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles for up to two full years.

The most advantageous thing that somebody can do after being arrested for a drug possession crime is obtain their own private attorney right away. Working with a lawyer will give you the greatest opportunity to avoid a lengthy prison term.

One of the most common defenses to a drug possession charge comes down to the conduct of the police officers during the search and seizure process. The entire case against a suspect is built upon the evidence that was obtained by the police. If the law enforcement officers did not comply with the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and if your rights were violated, then the evidence will be suppressed. What does this mean? This means that illegally collected evidence can’t be used against you in court. A seasoned criminal defense attorney can challenge any evidence obtained in an illegal search and seizure by filing a motion to suppress with the courts.

Drug possession offenses are prosecuted very harshly in this state largely because Florida has such an extensive problem with drug trafficking. If you are convicted of felony drug possession, you could be subjected to random urine testing, and you could be prohibited from carrying certain occupational licenses. Not to mention, the stigma attached to being a convicted felon, which would affect all aspects of your life. As a convicted felon, you will be denied certain job opportunities, turned away from educational loans and you could be turned down for an apartment or a residential lease.

Just because you were arrested for a drug possession offense, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to go to a state or federal prison. The sooner you enlist the services of a seasoned criminal defense lawyer, the better chances you have of getting the charges against you reduced or dropped entirely. Your defense attorney will be able to provide the prosecution with vital information about what really happened, and they can provide them with detailed information about any witnesses to the crime in question. A drug possession conviction can destroy your reputation and your career; it would be wise of you to enlist the services of a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer without delay!

Additional resources provided by the author

Hessinger & Kilfin Law is a powerful criminal defense firm that is dedicated to serving the residents of Tampa, Florida. A Tampa criminal defense lawyer from their firm has successfully helped clients obtained reduced penalties, lighter sentencing and they have helped get their client’s charges dropped entirely. Their firm handles all types of cases, both small and large. Whether you have been arrested for a drug possession crime, or murder, with prior experience as former prosecutors, you can be rest assured that their firm will have the knowledge and experience you need to achieve a successful outcome in your case. If you want to start being proactive about your situation now; contact a Tampa criminal defense lawyer from the firm to schedule your initial consultation at (888) 863-6427.

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