Sale of a Controlled Substance
Controlled drugs, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other "street" drugs is policed heavily in Miami-Dade County. These charges are serious, and punishments can be severe, elevated from mere possession charges.
Because of the nature of distribution charges, distribution charges are often filed because the defendant was in control of an abnormally large quantity of drugs. Those charged with distribution charges may have no actual intent to sell or distribute the drugs, but they nonetheless face distribution charges. To make matters worse for non-U.S. citizens, this charge carries consequences of deportation.
All individuals facing distribution charges should contact an experienced Miami-criminal trial attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can file important pre-trial motions to mitigate the charges you are facing.What Drugs Are Controlled Substances?
Under Florida Statute 893.03, a wide range of substances are considered "controlled." Importantly, drugs that may be legal in other states may be prohibited in Florida. Also, even if you have a prescription for a controlled substance, you can still be charged with distribution.
The severity of the offense is dependent largely upon the type of drugs possessed. For example, marijuana and heroin are considered "Schedule 1" drugs, meaning that, according to Florida lawmakers, they have no medicinal value and are therefore the most dangerous of drugs. On the other end of the spectrum, drugs with some accepted medicinal purposes are considered "Schedule 5," meaning the charges are less severe.
Hundreds of drugs are controlled under Florida law, but drug charges usually related to one of the following:
- Cannabis (Marijuana),
- Xanax (Alprazolam),
- Other Prescription Drugs.
In order to secure a drug distribution conviction, the prosecutor must prove two elements, beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant delivered or sold the substance, and
- The substance was controlled.
According to the Florida Supreme Court, "sell" means to deliver to another person in exchange for money or something else of value. "Deliver" means to transfer to another person.Penalties for Drug Distribution
Discussed previously, the penalties for drug distribution vary based on the nature of the charges. Possession of controlled substances can be a first, second, or third degree felony. The maximum penalties are as follows:
- First-Degree Felony: Up to 30 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Second-Degree Felony: Up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Third-Degree Felony: Up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Further, there are enhanced penalties for the sale of drugs within 1,000 feet of a church, park, school, retirement housing, or if the sale is to a minor.Call a Miami Criminal Trial Attorney
A criminal trial attorney with experience in drug cases may be able to raise vital defenses on your behalf, protecting your rights. Defenses include:
- Lack of Knowledge - The defendant was unaware that they were in possession or control of the substance.
- Personal Use - The defendant did not intend to distribute the substance, instead intending to use it personally.
- Invalid Search - The police violated the defendant's fourth amendment rights by conducting an illegal search, and therefore the controlled substances found are inadmissible evidence.
Contact a Miami criminal defense attorney with experience in drug cases immediately to consider any defenses that may apply in your case.