Florida Drug Crimes Attorney Serving West Palm Beach And The Surrounding Areas
Florida is notoriously known for being a hotbed for criminal drug activity. It’s long coastline and proximity to Latin and South American countries serves as an ideal gateway for the importation and exportation of drugs into the state. As a consequence, Florida imposes some of the harshest penalties for drug-related crimes. You can expect local law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney in your case to aggressively seek maximum punishment under the law. The severity of your punishment depends on a number of factors, such as the type and amount of drugs involved, your prior criminal history, and whether you intended the drugs for personal use or sale.
A conviction can lead to a mandatory two-year suspension of your driver’s license, substantial prison time, heavy fines, probation, enrollment in a drug treatment program and more. Not too mention, you’ll have to deal with the stigma and shame of being labeled a drug user or drug dealer.
The Stakes Are High In Your Criminal Drug Offense Case
The stakes are high, which is why you need to hire an expert criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. For two decades Michael T. Rabideau has successfully defended against a variety of drug charges including simple possession, sale and distribution, manufacturing, trafficking, cultivation, conspiracy and importation. He can take quick action to protect your rights and provide you with the dedicated and aggressive defense you need. Through skillful negotiation with the prosecuting attorney or tough litigation in the courtroom, he will work hard to have the charges dropped or reduced. His goal is to keep you of jail and to minimize any long-term consequences a conviction may bring.
Mr. Rabideau may be able to suggest an alternative sentence through a diversion or drug court program. With diversion, you can maintain a clean criminal record as long as you enter into and successfully complete the program.
To schedule a free consultation with Michael, call his office today: (561) 820-4848
Misdemeanor or Felony Charge?
Depending on the type and quantity of the drug involved, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor carries a sentence of up to one year in jail whereas a felony includes more substantial time behind bars and the loss of certain civil rights such as the right to own a firearm
Most drug crimes in Florida are filed as felonies with the exception of being in possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana. Regardless of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you may face a mandatory 2-year driver’s license suspension.
For Marijuana Offenses click here.
Aggravating Factors That Can Enhance a Sentence
- use of any weapons
- incident resulted in injuries or fatalities
- sale occurred in the vicinity of a school, playground or park
- minors involved
- size and scope of operation
- interstate/international moving of controlled substances
- prior criminal history
Florida’s Classification System of Controlled Substances
In Florida, illegal drugs are referred to as controlled dangerous substances (CDS) and are divided into five schedules based on their acceptable medical use and potential for abuse/addiction.
- Schedule I Drugs: Heroin, Cocaine, Ecstasy, Cannabis (Marijuana), LSD (acid), PCP, Ibogaine, Mescaline, Peyote
- Schedule II Drugs: Crack, Cocaine, Opium, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Oxycodone, Methadone, Methamphetamine, Amphetamine
- Schedule III Drugs: Androsterone, Testosterone, Clonazepam, Diazepam, Phenobarbital
- Schedule IV Drugs: Xanax, Valium, Soma, Ativan, Halcion
- Schedule V Drugs: Centussin, Enditussin, M-phen, Poly-Tussin, Triafed and Codeine, Tylenol with Codeine, Lomotil, Lyrica
Drug Charges in Palm Beach County
Florida criminalizes the possession of controlled substances including narcotics such as heroin and cocaine and pharmaceutical drugs (without an authorized prescription) like OxyContin and Vicodin. The penalty for drug possession depends on the type and quantity of drug found in your possession.
Schedule I Drug Possession
- Possession of more than 10 grams of a Schedule 1 drug is considered a first degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
- If the drugs weigh less than 10 grams, the charge is a third degree felony which carries up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Schedule II Drug Possession
- Possession of at least 4 grams of a Schedule II drug is a second degree felony which is punishable by up to 5 years in state prison and a fine up to $5,000.
Schedule III Drug Possession
- Possession of a Schedule III controlled substance can be charged either as a second degree felony with up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine or a third degree felony, which is up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Possession of Paraphernalia
It is illegal to possess any paraphernalia or equipment that can be used to consume, manufacture or distribute unlawful drugs such as needles, scales, syringes, pipes, bongs, or chemicals.
Possession with Intent to Sell
A simple possession charge can be elevated to possession with intent to deliver if there is evidence to suggest the drugs were meant to be sold. This may include large amounts of cash in or around the premises or vehicle where drugs were found; presence of baggies and other packaging consistent with drugs and drug sales; presence of drug paraphernalia, etc. A possession with intent to sell charge can be classified as a second or third degree felony, depending on the type of substance involved and carries a penalty of 5 to 15 years in prison.
Distribution: Drug distribution refers to the selling or dealing of drugs. The penalty associated with this charge is contingent on type and amount of drug involved and where the drug sale allegedly took place.
- the sale or delivery of up to 25 pounds of marijuana is a felony that carries up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- the sale or delivery of up to 28 grams of cocaine is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years probation, and up to $10,000 fine
- the sale or delivery of 14 to 28 grams of methamphetamine carries a mandatory 3 year prison term; selling 28 to 200 grams of meth carries a mandatory 7-year prison term; and selling 200 grams or more of meth will land you in prison for 15 years.
- the sale or delivery of 4 to 14 grams of heroin results in a mandatory 3-year prison sentence; selling 14 to 28 grams of heroin is a 15-year prison sentence; and selling 28 grams to 30 kilograms of heroin is a 25-year prison sentence.
Manufacturing or Cultivating Drugs
This charge can stem from growing marijuana plants to being involved in a lab that creates methamphetamines, crack cocaine, or other man-made substances.
When many people think of “drug traffickers” they think of South American cartel members smuggling drugs into the USA. However, the truth is college students selling drugs to their friends can be charged with felony drug trafficking. Even passing a prescription medicine unlawfully to another can be considered drug trafficking.
Drug trafficking is defined as the intentional sale, purchase, manufacture, delivery, possession, or transportation of a controlled substance above a certain amount. All Florida drug trafficking crimes are first degree felonies and carry mandatory minimum sentences regardless of whether you were selling the drugs or not. The lowest mandatory minimum sentence is 3 years in prison.
The threshold amounts which trigger a trafficking charge includes:
- Hydrocodone – 14 grams to 28 grams (minimum of 23 pills)
- Oxycodone – 7 grams to 14 grams
- MDMA/Ecstasy – 10 grams
- Methamphetamine — 14 grams to 28 grams
- Cocaine — 28 grams
- Cannabis — 25 pounds or 300 plants
- LSD — 1 gram but less than 5 grams
Defending a Drug Charge in South Florida
The Law Office of Michael T. Rabideau will thoroughly investigate all aspects of your case in order to develop a defense that delivers the best possible outcome. Mr. Rabideau will attack the State’s evidence against you and scrutinize the actions of law enforcement before, during, and after your arrest to see if they followed proper protocol procedures.
Questions he may ask include:
- Was your arrest lawful? Law enforcement must have probable cause to believe a crime was committed before pulling you over and/or arresting you. If probable cause does not exist, then detaining you would be considered unlawful.
- Did the police have a warrant or legal justification to search your person, home, or vehicle? The Fourth Amendment ensures your right to privacy and to be free of illegal search and seizures. If an officer asks to search you, your home or your vehicle you have the right to withhold consent. The only legal basis an officer has to conduct a search is if they have a search warrant or the drugs were in plain sight. If your constitutional rights were violated, any evidence that was gathered during the course of the investigation would be considered inadmissible in court.
- Were you in actual possession of the drug? The prosecution must prove beyond a doubt that the drugs actually belonged to you and not someone else. This may not be so easy to prove. For example, if drugs were found in your car but there were other passengers in the vehicle, one cannot conclusively say you were in possession of the drug.
- Are you a victim of entrapment? In some cases, law enforcement conducts sting operations and uses undercover informants to harass or coerce someone into committing a drug crime.
Call or contact our office to get started on the best possible legal strategy for your Drug Crimes defense.