Posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2022 at 2:37 pm
Cocaine possession is a serious charge in Florida. Under federal law, cocaine is listed as a Schedule 2 drug. The Controlled Substances Act includes any derivative or extract from coca leaves and includes the leaves themselves from which cocaine is derived.
Historically, cocaine was used medicinally as an anesthetic and to treat a variety of diseases. Medicinal use today is restricted to surgical procedures, often in the ear, nose, and throat.
Under Section 893.13(6)(a) of the Florida Statutes, a conviction of cocaine possession carries a significant punishment. The length of the prison term and amount of the fine will depend on the charge. The charge for cocaine possession is determined using several factors.
What Is Possession?
The common definition of possession means that you have, own, or control something. However, under the law, this term has a different meaning. A person may be in simple possession or constructive possession of cocaine. The type of possession will help determine the charge against you.
Simple possession means that a person knowingly has cocaine either on their person or in close physical control. For example, cocaine may be in a woman’s purse or in a bag close by. The definition means the cocaine must be close enough to be within reach and therefore under the individual’s control.
Constructive possession has a broader definition and covers more ground than actual physical control of the drug. If you are charged with constructive possession, the cocaine was not found within your immediate reach. This means the prosecution must prove you had knowledge that the cocaine was present and the ability to maintain control over it.
However, there have been times when being closely associated with a person who possessed cocaine was enough to establish that someone else was in constructive possession. For example, the driver of a car could be charged with constructive possession if cocaine is found in the purse of a passenger in their car. Likewise, if cocaine is found in possession of a guest in another person’s home, the homeowner can be charged with constructive possession.
How the Charge Is Determined
If you’re found in possession in Florida, the state can charge you with simple possession, sale, purchase, or delivery, and with drug trafficking. The charge used depends on the circumstances in which the drug was discovered, and the amount or weight of the substance found.
For example, if you have a small amount, you are usually charged with simple possession. However, if there is a large amount of cocaine or if you have several packages, you may be charged with sale or trafficking.
Another factor law enforcement may consider is the amount of money and the denomination of the bills found on you during your arrest. For example, if you have any amount of cocaine and a roll of $20 bills, law enforcement may assume that you are dealing.
The weight used to determine your charge includes the weight of the drug and any agent mixed with the drug. In other words, it is not only the weight of the drug itself. This means if you were in possession of 28 grams of cocaine, you cannot argue that the cocaine was cut with 14 grams of another agent, thus making the actual weight of the drug 14 grams.
What Are the Possible Penalties?
The penalty for cocaine possession will depend on the charge. However, according to Florida Statute § 322.055, the minimum penalty is a loss of your driver’s license for at least one year. The possession charge penalty will depend on the weight of the drug found at the time of the arrest.
When an individual is in possession of less than 28 grams, it’s a third-degree felony. Your sentence for possession of less than 28 grams can be up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.
However, if the prosecutor can prove that you had the intent to sell or deliver less than 28 grams this becomes a second-degree felony. You can then receive up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. When the weight of the drug is 28 grams or more, the penalty is up to 30 years in prison and a possible mandatory fine.
Call The Morris Firm If You Were Charged With Possession of Cocaine in Pensacola
If you were charged with possession of cocaine, you want an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney in Pensacola, Florida to represent you. The legal team at The Morris Firm is made up of skilled negotiators and tenacious litigators who will fight to protect your rights.
Our goal is to aggressively defend you. For more than a decade, we have focused our practice on criminal defense cases. We understand that your arrest likely doesn’t happen between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Our experienced lawyers are available 24/7 so we are there when you need us most.
Over the years, we have built strong working relationships with the legal system in Pensacola, including law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. We know the system, and pride ourselves in providing you with personalized service tailored to your needs.
Call our office at (850) 503-2626 today to schedule your case evaluation. Help is just a phone call away.
Posted on Monday, January 20th, 2020 at 1:04 pm
If you’re like most adults over the age of 18, you’ve heard about “marijuana decriminalization.” Essentially, decriminalization means that if someone is caught possessing marijuana for personal consumption for the first time, they will not be arrested, they won’t be sent to jail or prison, and they won’t acquire a criminal record.
Some of the states that have fully or partially decriminalized marijuana include California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Vermont, Mississippi, Connecticut, Maine, and Maryland. Florida however, is NOT on the list and one of the main reasons for this is that Florida, like Texas, has a significant drug trafficking problem.
Florida is a Gateway for Illegal Drugs
“Florida’s proximity to drug-producing and transshipment countries and its well-developed transportation infrastructure make it an ideal gateway for the movement of both licit and illicit goods into and through the United States. Drug transporters frequently use maritime vessels, commercial and private aircraft, and package delivery services to smuggle illicit drugs into Florida.
“They also use commercial trucks and private vehicles and, to a lesser extent, buses and railcars to transport drugs into the state. Many of these conveyances also are used to transport illicit drugs from Florida to other states and cities–particularly New York and Atlanta–that serve as major transportation hubs and distribution centers for various illicit drugs,” according to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Florida Drug Threat Assessment.
In light of the above, marijuana possession is still illegal in Florida, unless they are a Florida resident who holds a Florida medical marijuana card and possess only what they’ve been prescribed (like any other prescription). For those who do not have a marijuana card, the penalties for marijuana possession in Florida are as follows:
- Possession of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000.
- Possession of more than 20 grams to 25 pounds is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
- Possession of more than 25 pounds but less than 2000 pounds is a felony, punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $25,000.
Are you facing marijuana charges? If so, we urge you to contact the Morris Firm at once to schedule a consultation. With extensive experience defending marijuana cases, we stand ready to fight zealously on your behalf.
Posted on Monday, January 6th, 2020 at 1:03 pm
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is the one crime that is commonly committed by non-criminals. Meaning, people who don’t have a previous criminal history or who don’t typically engage in criminal behavior. As such, we often see normal people get arrested for DUI, including mothers and fathers, teachers, doctors, retail associates, salespeople, and other average folks. We also see Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) arrested for DUI.
For the purposes of this article, we discuss what happens when a permanent resident is convicted of DUI in Florida, and whether a DUI conviction can lead to removal proceedings, which used to be called “deportation.”
Criminal Convictions & Removal Proceedings
When immigrants come to the United States to live for an extended period of time or to eventually become U.S. citizens, they are expected to be responsible members of our communities. When a Green Card holder violates U.S. state or federal laws, it can jeopardize their lawful permanent resident status. Since most Green Card holders are well-aware of this fact, it’s natural for them to wonder if a DUI will lead to deportation.
Does a DUI conviction automatically lead to removal proceedings? No, not necessarily but it depends on the facts of the case. Generally, a first-time DUI offense under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes will not trigger removal proceedings. However, that is not guaranteed. It can happen.
Under the following circumstances, a Florida DUI can be viewed negatively by an immigration judge and initiate removal proceedings:
- It was a felony DUI offense;
- It was a drug-related DUI, for example, the Green Card holder was driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamines, or another controlled substance;
- The Green Cardholder was previously convicted for a drug-related offense;
- The Green Cardholder has previous DUI convictions on their record; OR
- The Green Cardholder has a criminal history and this DUI is the final straw.
To learn more about deportable offenses under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), click here.
As a general rule, if the Green Card holder has no criminal history, it was a first DUI offense (not drug-related), and there were no aggravated circumstances (no children in the vehicle and no one was hurt), the DUI should not trigger removal proceedings.
On the other hand, if the Green Card holder is charged with felony DUI, or if it’s a drug-related DUI, or if the defendant has a criminal history, the DUI could lead to deportation. It’s fact-specific and handled on a case-by-case basis.
We hope this article cleared up any questions that you have. If you’re looking for DUI defense representation, don’t hesitate to contact the Morris Firm for a case evaluation by calling (850) 503-2626.
Posted on Monday, December 23rd, 2019 at 12:48 pm
A large number of Americans are taking at least one, if not several medications at any given time. The number of citizens taking prescription drugs has grown so much that it has caused a serious concern over drugged driving. What a lot of people don’t realize is that drugged driving, even if it’s associated with lawfully prescribed medications, can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
“Drugged driving is driving a vehicle while impaired due to the intoxicating effects of recent drug use. It can make driving a car unsafe—just like driving after drinking alcohol. Drugged driving puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road at serious risk,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Why Drugged Driving Is Dangerous
Certain drugs directly affect driving skills because of how they act in the brain. Some drugs, such as marijuana, impair a person’s judgment and slow reaction time. They can also decrease the driver’s coordination. Then there are other medications that cause dizziness, fatigue, nausea, aggression, and reckless driving.
According to the NIDA, prescription drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines impair thinking and judgment and can cause drowsiness and dizziness. With some medications, even the smallest amount can have a measurable effect, which is why a person can face driving under the influence (DUI) charges if there is “any amount” of a drug in a driver’s blood or urine.
While not all drugs affect driving ability, some definitely do. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the types of medications that make it dangerous to drive include the following:
- Anxiety medications
- Some antidepressants
- Medicines that contain codeine
- Some cold and allergy medications
- Sleeping pills
- Pain relievers
- Medications with stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine
To learn more about drugged driving from the FDA, click here.
In Florida, it’s illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol, prescription medications, and illicit drugs. You can face the same DUI penalties for driving under the influence of a prescription drug as you would for drunk driving. The penalties for a first prescription drug DUI in Florida include up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
Facing prescription DUI charges? Contact The Morris Firm 24/7 for a case evaluation.
Posted on Monday, December 9th, 2019 at 12:46 pm
Even though marijuana legalization and decriminalization is taking effect in various states across the country, it is still very much illegal in Florida. While some states, such as California, Nevada, and Colorado have loosened up their marijuana possession laws significantly, in all 50 states it’s against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana and Florida is no exception.
If you drive under the influence of marijuana, what are the penalties? Are they different than they are for an alcohol-related DUI? Like other states, the penalties for a marijuana DUI in Florida are the same as they are for driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, the penalties for DUI are the same, regardless if the driver is impaired by alcohol, marijuana, another illegal drug, prescription drugs, or over-the-counter medications.
Does Marijuana Affect Driving?
Studies have found that marijuana affects driving, which is why it’s illegal to drive while you’re under the influence of the drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.”
The NIDA continues, “Marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in vehicle crashes, including fatal ones.”
Florida’s DUI Law
Florida’s DUI law is covered under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes. In Florida, you break the state’s DUI law if you are under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, or controlled substance under Chapter 893 and your normal faculties are impaired.
There doesn’t have to be a “specific amount” of marijuana in your bloodstream to face marijuana DUI charges, all that matters is that the drug has impaired your normal faculties. The penalties for DUI, whether it’s due to alcohol, marijuana, or another drug or controlled substance are as follows for a first offense:
- A fine ranging between $500 and $1,000
- Up to 6 months in jail
- If the blood alcohol level (BAL) was .15% or higher, up to 9 months in jail
Posted on Wednesday, November 6th, 2019 at 12:58 pm
Now that the holidays are upon us, it’s timely to discuss DUI arrests and crashes, which increase like clockwork during the holiday season. Why the uptick in DUIs? It’s because of all of the Thanksgiving dinners, the Christmas parties, and the New Year’s Eve parties – all of these celebrations tend to have alcohol flowing freely.
The problem is, too many people forget to plan ahead for a sober ride. They drive to the party or family dinner and don’t think about how they really should have taken a cab, an Uber, or a Lyft. Instead of asking for a sober ride home or using a rideshare service, they grab their keys and get behind the wheel with alcohol in their system. But don’t just take our word for it, listen to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign
“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over drives home why it is so critical to always drive sober. Over the past 5 years, an average of 300 people died in drunk-driving crashes during Christmas through New Year’s holiday period. In December 2016 alone, 781 people lost their lives in drunk-driving crashes,” reports the NHTSA.
One aspect of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is the “No Big Deal” advertisement released by the NHTSA, which gives a vivid view of the type of destruction caused by a drunk driver. The ad includes a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) experience of an alcohol-related crash. The viewer gets to see first responders and how one bad choice can have grave consequences. To watch “No Big Deal,” click here.
As you celebrate the holidays, please be safe. Never drink and drive and think ahead. Before you celebrate, think to yourself, “How am I getting home?” Have a plan before you have any alcohol. Be honest with yourself. If you say you won’t drink but you know you’ll break down, just make sure you are responsible and don’t drink and drive.