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Even First-Offense Drug Possession Charges Carry Serious Consequences in Florida

For many defendants in Florida, the sentencing provisions of drug possession laws may come as an unpleasant surprise. Penalties for drug possession can be severe - even for a first offense. The so-called "War on Drugs" is known to have failed, yet laws remain stringent - and some cases, thanks to overzealous legislators and prosecutors, becoming even tougher. First-offense possession

Defendants convicted of drug offenses in Florida are subject to jail time, fines and court fees, substance abuse counseling, community service, driver’s license suspension and a host of other sanctions. An experienced criminal defense lawyer in Jacksonville can help you explore your legal options and viable defenses. Do not assume an arrest means prosecutors have an open-and-shut case. More often than not, these are highly defensible charges, but you need an attorney with a proven track record of success. 

Florida Sentencing for Drug Possession

Florida Statutes give mandatory minimums for the sentencing of drug possession offenses. These guidelines are based upon: (1) the type of drug which is possessed, and (2) the amount of the drug.

  • Possession of less than twenty grams of cannabis can be punished by a minimum fine of court costs, and a maximum sentence of 365 days in jail. Possession of over twenty grams is punishable by a minimum fine of court costs and maximum sentence of five years in prison. Possession of five to two thousand pounds of cannabis is subject to a minimum sentence of three years in prison and/or a fine of $25,000. Any marijuana possession conviction results in a one-year suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.
  • Possession of 28 to 199.99 grams of cocaine requires a minimum sentence of three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000. Possession of 200 to 399.99 grams of cocaine requires a minimum sentence of seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000. Possession of 400 grams to 149.99 kilograms of cocaine requires a minimum sentence of fifteen years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. Possession of over 150 kilograms of cocaine requires a sentence of life in prison without parole. Any cocaine possession conviction results in a one-year suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.
  • Possession of 10 to 199.99 grams of MDMA or ecstasy requires a minimum sentence of three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.  Possession of 200 to 399.99 grams of MDMA or ecstasy requires a minimum sentence of seven years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.  Possession of 400 grams to 29.99 kilograms of MDMA or ecstasy requires a minimum sentence of fifteen years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. Any MDMA or ecstasy possession conviction results in a one-year suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.

The Consequences of a Drug Conviction

Many criminal defendants are painfully unaware of the collateral consequences of a conviction for drug possession - even if it is a first offense. The criminal process is lengthy, and often results in a significant amount of missed work. Job prospects are often severely limited after a drug conviction - even if it is a misdemeanor. Nor are the consequences of a criminal records limited only to job opportunities. Housing, professional licensure, education, welfare benefits, military records, immigration status, the right to serve in public office and social opportunities can all be limited by the nature of a drug conviction. Civil rights are also revoked automatically after a felony conviction. These include: the right to vote, the right to serve on a jury, and the right to possess a firearm.

If you or a loved one is facing drug charges, contact a Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You have constitutional rights which must be protected.

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