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Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of any controlled substance not legally obtained from a medical practitioner is a felony level offense for most drugs in the state of Florida. Without a valid prescription, possession of the narcotic could result in criminal charges.  If convicted of a substance-related crime, you could be facing serious penalties including expensive fines and prison time.

The penalties for a drug conviction don’t stop after you’ve completed your sentence. Many offenders who have a drug crime history have multiple issues applying for loans, housing or admittance into their chosen academic university. For these reasons and more, we highly suggest you protect your future by hiring experienced legal representation immediately.

Drug Defense Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance in Broward County, you should have an experienced Fort Lauderdale drug possession lawyer at Meltzer & Bell represent you. Our lawyers collectively have decades of experience we want to utilize for your case. Whether you choose to combat the charges or pursue drug court as an option, we will be available to you 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Don’t wait another moment to get in touch with Meltzer & Bell to discuss your legal options in detail. We represent clients throughout Broward County from our Fort Lauderdale office, including in Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Coral Spring, Wilton Manors and Pompano Beach. Contact Meltzer & Bell at (754) 755-8554 to schedule a free consultation.

Overview of Drug Possession in FL


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What Is Considered Possession of a Controlled Substance in FL?

Florida has outlawed the use, possession or sale of certain drugs unless it has been dispensed under a lawful prescription. Possessing even trace amounts of a controlled substance can potentially turn into misdemeanor or even felony-level charges. However, to do this, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the offender was in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance.

The term “actual possession” is when an illegal drug is found physically on the offender’s body. For instance, if the offender has the drugs in their hand, pocket or secured in their purse, they would be considered in actual possession. Most drug offenders are prosecuted for being in actual possession of a controlled substance.

“Constructive possession” is when a controlled substance isn’t within “ready reach.” It’s instead considered to be under your “dominion” or control. Essentially, it means you have the ability to retrieve the controlled substance at any time. For example, if you hid drugs under your bed in a locked box where only you have the key, then you would be considered in constructive possession of those drugs.


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Examples of Controlled Substances Under Florida Law

It’s common to hear drugs referred to as “controlled substances” in a court case. That is because Florida doesn’t just outlaw the possession of street drugs. Possessing certain medications without a lawful prescription can also be considered a drug crime. Some examples of controlled substances under Florida law include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Codeine
  • Xanax
  • LSD or Acid
  • MDMA (Molly)
  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamines
  • Valium
  • Adderall
  • Percocet
  • Fentanyl
  • Speed
  • Ecstasy

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What Are Drug Schedules in Florida?

Florida classifies the penalties and risk of a controlled substance based on its schedule. Florida has five different drug schedules that categorizes controlled substances based on their risk of abuse and potential in the use of medicine. Your penalties for your drug possession charges heavily rely on what schedule the controlled substance was classified under.

The different schedules under Florida law include:

  • Schedule V – Many Schedule V drugs are accepted for medical purposes and treatments in the United States for certain illnesses. Schedule V drugs have a possible potential for dependence, but it’s very low. A few examples of Schedule V drugs are Robitussin and certain painkillers.
  • Schedule IV – A Schedule IV drug also has a low potential for chemical dependency and abuse and can be used medicinally. There may be some physical or psychological dependence for these drugs, however it is very rare. An example of a Schedule IV drug is Valium or Xanax.
  • Schedule III – There is no medical use for Schedule III drugs in the United States currently. Schedule III drugs have a lower chance of dependency but do have a slight chance of abuse in some cases. Some Schedule III drugs can be anabolic steroids or testosterone.
  • Schedule II – Any kind of Schedule II drug has a high risk for abuse or addiction even on a first-time use. Some Schedule II drugs can be used for medical use but in very few situations. Schedule II drugs can lead to physical or psychological dependence in many users. A few examples of Schedule II drugs include cocaine, and methamphetamines.
  • Schedule I – All Schedule I drugs have a very high potential for abuse and chemical dependency. Schedule I drugs are not commonly used for medical treatment, and if they are the drug is heavily monitored by professionals in an experimental setting. Charges for drugs classified under Schedule I have serious penalties and are normally felony-level. A few examples of Schedule I drugs are ecstasy, LSD, and heroin.

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What are the Penalties for Possessing a Controlled Substance in Florida?

The penalties for possession of a controlled substance highly depend on the schedule of the drug as well as how much was found on the offender. Generally, unauthorized possession of a controlled substance is considered a third-degree felony in Florida. A third-degree felony can lead to up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. There are exceptions, depending on the substance, that can decrease the severity of the punishment.

Those found to be in unauthorized possession of a Schedule V controlled substance will face a second-degree misdemeanor. The penalties for a second-degree misdemeanor include up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, despite the fact it’s a schedule I drug. The penalties for a first-degree misdemeanor include up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Possessing a high volume of drugs could cause law enforcement to charge you with drug trafficking. If you are convicted of drug trafficking, you should expect your charges to increase significantly. For instance, unauthorized possession of more than 25 pounds of cannabis, 28 grams of cocaine, 4 grams of heroin, 14 grams of hydrocodone, or 14 grams of methamphetamine, becomes a first degree felony trafficking charge.


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Additional Resources

Drug Treatment Court Program | Broward Sheriff’s Office – Visit the official website for the Broward County’s Sheriff’s Department to learn more about their drug treatment court program. Access the site to learn what the program requires, how your drug charges can be dismissed and who runs the organization daily.

Florida Drug Laws – Visit the website for Florida Legislation and read more about the specifics regarding controlled substances and the crime of possession. See which drugs are defined under which Schedule, the penalties for possessing a controlled substance in detail , and what can enhance possession penalties.


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Fort Lauderdale Attorney for Possession of a Controlled Substance in FL

Drug possession cases can lead to felony charges and a conviction can carry serious consequences. If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance in Broward County, contact Meltzer & Bell. Our drug crime lawyers will do whatever possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed completely.

Call us at (754) 755-8554 to set up your first consultation today. A Fort Lauderdale drug offenses lawyer from Meltzer & Bell will be available to discuss your legal options. Meltzer & Bell can be found throughout the greater Broward County area including Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Pembroke Pines.


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