Florida has some of the harshest laws in the nation in regards to controlled substances. Those arrested in Broward County face the possibility of probation or prison time for the mere possession of any illegal drug. The penalties are far worse for possession with intent to sell, sale or delivery of a controlled substances, or drug trafficking.
Drug charges can also be prosecuted in federal court, especially for higher level drug trafficking offenes. If charged by the U.S. government with trafficking certain quantities of narcotics, a person may face mandatory minimum sentences and steep fines.
Drug Defense Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL
A skilled drug defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale from Meltzer & Bell will fight for you if you face any charge related to narcotics in Broward County. With Meltzer & Bell, you will have one of our experienced partners available to you 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
We have represented clients in both the 17th Judicial Circuit courts in Broward County, as well as the Southern District of Florida’s federal courts. Drug charges involve significant penalties, but there may be strong defenses available to you. Call us today at (561) 557-8686 to schedule a free consultation.
Many of these cases involve investigative techniques such as search warrants, buy/busts, controlled deliveries, controlled narcotic buys, electronic surveillance and visual surveillance. We are familiar with the tactics used by law enforcement officers in drug cases.
We fight for the rights of clients throughout Broward County from our Fort Lauderdale office, including in Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Coral Springs, Miramar, Davie, Pompano Beach, Plantation, Deerfield Beach, Weston, Sunrise and Wilton Manors.
Overview of Controlled Substances Law in Florida
- Types of Narcotics Charges in Florida Law
- Federal Drug Laws in the Southern District of Florida
- Types of Illegal Substances
- Penalties for Drug Charges
- Drugs and Criminal Law Resources
There are a wide range of alleged acts involving unlawful drugs that may result in criminal charges under Chapter 893 of Florida Statutes. Accusations could include charges for:
- Possession: The mere possession of any substance that has been prohibited by Florida law without sufficient legal justification, such as a valid prescription, can result in criminal charges. Knowingly having actual or constructive possession of any controlled substance not legally obtained from a medical practitioner is, for most illegal substances, a third degree felony.
- Sale: It is illegal to sell drugs, or have possession of any illegal drug with the intent to sell it. Prosecutors may bring forth a variety of evidence to show intent to sell, including how the narcotics were packaged, the amount and any paraphernalia found relating to sale, including baggies, scales or large amounts of money.
- Manufacturing: It is illegal to create or manufacture any illegal drugs. Prosecutors may pursue charges for unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances with evidence such as chemicals used to create narcotics. Manufacturing charges often involve meth labs.
- Trafficking: The term “trafficking” generally refers to large scale operations relating to the manufacturing, transportation and sale of narcotics. Trafficking charges are typically brought when a person is accused of possessing a large amount of illegal drugs.
- Paraphernalia: Florida Statutes 893.145 defines drug paraphernalia as any equipment or material designed for the cultivation, ingestion, inhalation, storage, sale, production, compounding, planting, propagation, concealment or transportation of an illegal substance. It is illegal to possess or sell drug paraphernalia.
The federal government, under the Controlled Substances Act, has also prohibited the sale, manufacturing, cultivation, trafficking and even mere possession of many, many drugs. While most drug charges are at the state level, the feds are very active in pursuing prosecution of narcotics-related offenses.
Federal drug laws are often enforced by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), who frequently investigate trafficking operations. However, suspects may be pursued and arrested by any federal law enforcement agency, including the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Agency or others.
Broward County is in the Southern District of Florida. If accused of violating federal drug laws, the U.S. Attorney will prosecute, and the charges will be heard in a federal court, such as the one in Fort Lauderdale.
Your drug lawyer must be licensed to practices in the Southern District, and should be familiar with Federal Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Our defense attorneys at Meltzer & Bell are licensed and experienced in the federal courts in the region.
Federal law and Florida law largely overlap in the substances outlawed. The drugs are grouped into “schedules.” Illegal substances include:
Prescription drugs are also controlled substances. It is illegal to possess these drugs without a valid prescription. It is also illegal to attempt to use a forged or falsified prescription to fraudulently obtain any of these substances.
In the past few years, narcotics officers with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office have put more resouces into investigating opioid-related crimes involving high-potency narcotics. With these high-potency narcotics, any accidental contact with or inhalation of such substances can be deadly.
The court in Broward County has even created special rules when high-potency narcotics are introduced into evidence. Those high potency narcotics that are highly toxic and may be fatal include:
- Fentanyl (Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Subsys, Abstral, Lazanda, Ionsys, Onsolis);
- Duragesic (Duragesic-100, Duragensic-50, Duragensic, Duragensic-75, Sublimace, Duragensic-25, and Duragensic-12);
- Alfentanil; and
Most state drug charges are felonies. If convicted of even a third degree felony, you will face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for two years.
If convicted of a federal offense, you may face federal prison time. Certain charges, including those involving trafficking, death and weapons, may result in mandatory minimum sentences and fines in the millions.
Broward County was a pioneer with its drug court program. Under the program, a person with a substance abuse-related charge who has no prior felony convictions may seek to have their charges dismissed by going through treatment. Drug court may or may not be the best option for you. Your attorney can help you make that decision.
Metro Broward Drug Task Force
The attorneys at Meltzer & Bell are familiar with the tactics used by the Metro Broward Drug Task Force (MBDTF). Officers on the task force come from law enforcement agencies in Broward County at the federal, state, county and city level. Federal officers involved in MBDTF investigations include the DEA, FBI, the United States Postal Inspectors Office (USPIS) and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI/ICE).
Many of these task force investigations are initiated by officers with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Officers in city police departments from the following agencies can also be involved in the task force including:
- the Fort Lauderdale Police Department;
- the Lauderhill Police Department.
- the Hollywood Police Department;
- the Wilton Police Department;
- the Coral Springs Police Department;
- the Miramar Police Department;
- the Sunrise Police Department; and
- the Manors Police Department.
At the state level, the task force includes officers from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
Broward County Drug Court – Created in 1991, Broward County had one of the first treatment programs serving as an alternative to those accused of crimes involving controlled substances.
University of Florida Drug Policy Institute – Part of the Department of Psychiatry, the DPI conducts research on policy relating to drugs and substance abuse.
United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse – The UWBCCSA forms coalitions to address the health issue of substance abuse in Broward County.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Programs – The HIDTA program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. The program provides assistance to Federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.
Finding an Attorney in Broward County for Narcotics Charges
Act today if you face accusations of a narcotics-related offense in Broward County. Call an experienced Fort Lauderdale drug defense lawyer at Meltzer & Bell.
We will immediately begin working on your defense to seek the best possible result, whether you face state charges in the 17th Judicial Circuit or federal charges in the Fort Lauderdale U.S. Courthouse.
Call (561) 557-8686 today to set up a free consultation.
This article was last updated on Friday, November 3, 2017.