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.