Drug Possession

Drug Possession Lawyer in Orlando, Florida

drugs-on-a-table

Fierce Protection of 4th Amendment Rights — Drug Possession Lawyer in Orlando

In order to prove that you exercised control over drugs or controlled substances, the prosecutor must be able to show that you had actual possession of the drugs or that you constructively possessed them. Actual possession means that you know or are aware that the drugs are present, and the drugs are either on your person, such as in your pocket, in a container in your hand or somewhere on your person, or that the drugs are so close to you and within your reach that they are considered under your control.

Constructive possession is different from actual possession in that while you are still aware that the drugs are present, the drugs are not on your person but in a place that you control, and that you have the actual ability to control the drugs. The simple fact that drugs are found close to you is not necessarily enough to prove that you had constructive possession of the drugs, especially if you are in a place that you do not control, such as a friend’s car. However, it is important to note that even if you are riding in a friend’s car, and the car is stopped by a police officer who proceeds to find drugs in the glove box of your friend’s car, under Florida law, both you and your friend may be charged with possession of controlled substances, even though the drugs were not in your pocket or hand. Fortunately, constructive possession cases are not easy to prove, compared to actual possession cases, particularly because the prosecutor must be able to show that you had knowledge that the drugs were in the glove box and had the ability to access the drugs. But if the prosecutor can prove that you had constructive possession of the drugs, then you can be found guilty of possessing controlled substances even though you never actually possessed the drugs.

When a person is arrested for a drug offense in Orlando, the natural reaction often will be one of fear and apprehension about the future. Conviction of a drug crime in Florida can result in a sentence that includes thirty years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Because Orlando drug possession defense attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary was a former Florida State’s Attorney, she knows that our state has some of the toughest drug laws in the U.S. and that law enforcement agencies are aggressive in enforcing drug possession and drug distribution offenses. Prosecutors often seeking the maximum penalty under Florida law. Possession of heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine constitutes a third-degree felony in Florida, which carries a punishment of up to five years in prison and substantial fines.

When facing drug possession charges in Florida, the experience and proven success of your criminal defense attorney will play a significant role in determining your future. Because Beryl Thompson-McClary has participated in over 350 trials and prosecuted many cases, she has the expertise individuals facing drug charges need.

What Constitutes Possession of Narcotics?

Actual Possession

Possession in Florida can be either actual or constructive. Actual possession refers to “possession” in the sense of the term as it is used in ordinary parlance. When the drug is found on your person, such as in the pocket of a coat, this would fall under the rubric of actual possession. Possession is not the same as ownership, which is not necessary for the prosecutor to obtain a conviction.

A common defense strategy often used in cases involving actual possession is to challenge the legal basis for the initial stop or the search that resulted in seizure of the drugs. Law enforcement officers need “reasonable suspicion” that you are committing a crime or that you have recently committed an offense to stop your vehicle. The officer’s suspicion must be based on articulable facts rather than a mere hunch. Even if the officer has reasonable suspicion of a criminal offense, he must satisfy the higher standard of probable cause before conducting a search of your car, home, or office subject to certain exceptions.

Constructive Possession

Even if drugs are discovered in a remote location or a common area, you can be charged with narcotics possession based on the theory of constructive possession. The prosecutor must establish that you knew where the drugs were located and that you had access or the ability to control the narcotics. If you are a passenger in a car when drugs are uncovered in the glove compartment, however, the prosecutor cannot simply rely on your proximity to where the drugs were found even when the drugs are in plain view.

Penalties for Drug Possession in Florida

The penalty for a first offense of possession of drugs will depend on the quantity and type of controlled substance. Florida classifies drugs, referred to as “controlled dangerous substances” (CDS) into categories Schedule I-V. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous and addictive. These drugs have no accepted medical use but pose a high risk of addiction. Heroin and LSD are examples of Schedule I drugs. Examples of penalties include:

Possession of more than 10 grams of a schedule I drug:

  • 1st-degree felony
  • Maximum of 30 years in prison
  • Fine up to $10,000
  • Or both

Possession of any CDS

  • 3rd-degree felony
  • Maximum of 5 years in prison
  • Fine up to $5,000

Possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana:

  • 1st-degree misdemeanor
  • Maximum of a year in prison
  • Fine up to $1,000
  • Or both

Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana

  • 3rd-degree felony
  • Maximum of 5 years in prison
  • Fine up to $5,000
  • Or Both

If you are accused of the intentional manufacture, possession, sale, delivery, purchase or transportation of a CDS in amounts exceeding certain thresholds, you can face trafficking charges. These charges will subject you to harsher sentences. Drug trafficking offenses also could result in federal charges. When you must face drug charges in federal court, you will be subject to particularly harsh penalties under the federal sentencing guidelines, which include mandatory minimum prison terms.

Aggressive Defense to Drug Possession Charges in Florida

When you face the prospect of a lengthy term in state prison, significant fines, and other negative consequences of a drug charge in Florida, you can take comfort in having an experienced trial attorney and former prosecutor protecting your rights. Orlando drug possession defense attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary investigates the prosecutor’s case and constructs her defense based on the specific circumstances. She might contest the legality of the initial stop or subsequent search. If the charge is based on constructive possession, she might argue that you lacked the necessary ability to exercise control over the drugs or knowledge of their presence.

Contact Us Today to Protect Your Future

When you are under the specter of drug charges, you liberty, reputation, and future are placed in peril. At the Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary, P.A., our attorneys are committed to tenaciously taking on the government while protecting the rights of our clients. We have law offices in Orlando and practice in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard, and Volusia counties.  To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, you can call our office at 888-640-2999.