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Defending Against Florida Drug Possession

Posted by Fred Koberlein, Jr. | Jan 24, 2016 | 0 Comments

Drug possession refers to someone arrested for having an amount of illegal drugs on their person (body), premises (surrounding area) or vehicle, or under their control, which does not amount to an intent to manufacture, sell or otherwise distribute the drugs. Most drug possession charges in Florida arise to the level of a third-degree felony, so it's serious business.  Possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis (pot) is a misdemeanor (see below).

Regardless of whether the charge of drug possession is filed as a misdemeanor or felony, there are certain elements that must be established for a case of  drug possession to be proven in Florida.  An experienced and skilled attorney can help prevent the prosecution from proving one or more of the required elements from being proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Florida Drug Possession

A controlled substance is defined as any drug or chemical that is regulated by the government in its manufacture, use or possession. This means not just substances like heroin or cocaine, but many prescription drugs as well.  As previously stated, possession of most controlled substances in Florida are third degree felonies.

There are certain exceptions to these laws. Florida state law, for example, allows possession of marijuana in an amount under 20 grams to be charged as a first degree misdemeanor rather than as a felony.

Proving Drug Possession

In order to prove charges of drug possession, there are three elements which must be proven by a prosecuting attorney and must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The three elements include:

  • The substance in question was illegal or controlled. This usually requires the results of a laboratory analysis.
  • The defendant had to know that they had possession of the drug and that the material was of an illicit nature.  Just being around an illegal drug is not enough!
  • The defendant must have had control over the presence and location of the substance. Not only does the defendant have to know the drug is there, they had to have control over how and why it got there.

Defending Against Drug Possession

Every case includes its own individual facts and circumstances.  Stated broadly, there are four basic means by which a person charged with drug possession can offer a valid defense, and your attorney can best determine the course of action you should take when presenting your case. These four defenses include:

  • Lack of knowledge that the substance in question was a controlled substance. You cannot be convicted of a crime if you didn't realize you were carrying an illicit chemical or drug.
  • You held a valid prescription for the substance from your doctor or a qualified medical professional.
  • You can demonstrate a circumstance of entrapment—that is, the police deliberately set you up to be in possession of the substance
  • Unlawful search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment protects your civil rights and sets forth specific rules under which police can search for evidence.

Florida Defense Attorneys

If you are arrested and charged with drug possession in Florida, you should immediately seek the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney. The laws are complex and tricky, and you should never try to go it alone.  Only a qualified lawyer can review the specifics of your case and map out a valid strategy to defend you against these charges, which can carry serious criminal and civil penalties.

If you are facing drug charges in Florida, don't wait, contact us for a no pressure evaluation of your case today.

About the Author

Fred Koberlein, Jr.

Fred Koberlein is a trial attorney who opened Koberlein Law Offices after acquiring extensive legal experience in three legal practice areas, which are: personal injury law; criminal defense; and local government matters which require you to appear or present your matter before your local government Boards, government Councils, and government Agencies. Mr. Koberlein began trial preparation through an externship as a legal clerk with the Judges of the Third Judicial Circuit for Florida prior to his graduation from the University of Florida, College of Law.  After law school Mr. Koberlein was dedicated to becoming a trial attorney and worked with the Public Defender's Office from 2004 to 2007, where he was promoted to handling felony cases within eight months of hire.  Mr.  Koberlein has handled over 1500 criminal cases ranging from possession of cannabis, DUI, serious felonies, white-collar crimes, violations of probation hearings, and countless motion hearings. Mr.  Koberlein began practicing in the areas of personal injury and insurance defense during 2006.  Mr. Koberlein's experience in prosecuting personal injury claims against those insurance companies he was not representing and defending other insurance companies and their customers provided a unique experience where he was able to learn what each side anticipates from the opposing party.Next, Mr. Koberlein was hired by a City to defend the City's interests and three additional Cities quickly followed and retained Mr. Koberlein to protect their interests.  Currently, Mr. Koberlein represents a total of four (4) municipalities in the North Florida area.  As Mr. Koberlein focused on civil litigation he remained passionate about representing individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes as well as civil litigation issues. Mr.  Koberlein has the experience and reputation to negotiate a favorable resolution in your matter, and if that is not possible, to provide the best, most zealous trial representation available.  Utilizing competent and trusted investigators and experts, your case will be prepared so that the best result will be achieved.  If you or a loved one is hurt, damaged, or is facing criminal charges, you want a qualified, hard-working attorney who will explain your options to you in a straightforward, commonsense, and honest manner. Education and Practice Experience: University of Florida; Gainesville, Florida; Bachelor of Science, 1997 University of South Florida; Tampa, Florida; 1998 University of Florida, College of Law; Gainesville, Florida; 2003 Bar and Court Admissions: Florida Bar, 2004 – Present All 67 Counties in Florida All 20 Circuits in Florida U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida Professional and Civic Activities: Florida Bar Trial Lawyers, 2007 – Present Florida Bar Business Law Section, 2007 – Present Florida Bar Criminal Law Section, 2004 – Present Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2004 – Present Third Judicial Bar Association, 2004 – Present Mr.  Koberlein is committed to his clients and devotes himself to protecting their interests from the beginning to the end of their case.  Mr. Koberlein has spent his career helping clients defend themselves against criminal charges, fight insurance companies, and proceed through the bureaucratic process of local governments.  Mr. Koberlein welcomes the opportunity to meet with you and evaluate your legal needs and provide you with an experienced and competent analysis.

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