Drug / Narcotics Crimes
Any accusation of a crime involving a controlled substance in Florida can lead to severe penalties and punishments, including a mandatory driver’s license suspension for certain offenses. A conviction can also result in lengthy incarceration, fines, a criminal record, ineligibility to possess or own a handgun, and an inability to pursue certain professional occupations.
Additionally, many drug offenses can be prosecuted as federal crimes instead of, or in addition to, state charges. Federal offenses are usually prosecuted by agencies with far more resources and may result in lengthier prison sentences and steeper fines.
If you have been charged with any kind of drug offense in Florida, it is important to hire an experienced lawyer who will help you avoid a conviction and will ensure your charges are reduced from a federal offense to a state offense.Jacksonville Drug Crimes Lawyer
If you have been charged with any crime involving a controlled substance in the greater Jacksonville area, you should immediately seek legal representation. Roelke Law, P.A. fights for clients all over Duval County and surrounding areas, including Jacksonville Beach, St. Augustine, Orange Park, Fernandina Beach, and many other communities.
Bill Roelke is experienced in representing individuals who have been charged with drug offenses throughout Florida and will make every effort to achieve the best possible outcome in your situation. Call Roelke Law, P.A. today for a free consultation at (904) 354-0333 about your alleged drug offense.
Duval County Drug Crimes Overview
- How are different drugs classified in Florida?
- Are synthetic drugs illegal?
- What are the different drug crimes a person can be charged with?
- How might an alleged offender be punished if he or she is convicted?
- Does Duval County have a drug court program?
- Where can I learn more about this subject?
- Have there been any recent changes to state laws or procedures?
- What are some questions that are most commonly asked?
According to Florida law, all drugs, chemicals, narcotics, controlled substances, medicines and prescription pills are classified into five different schedules in the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. The standards and schedules established under Florida Statute § 893.03 are largely similar to the schedules established under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Schedule I drugs in Florida are defined as those having the highest potential for abuse and little or no known medical application. Schedule II drugs have less likelihood for abuse than Schedule I drugs and have some medical purpose in the United States. Schedule III substances have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I or II drugs, but are commonly used for medical purposes. Schedule IV substances have less potential for abuse than Schedule III substances and are also commonly used for medical treatment. Schedule V substances have the least likelihood for abuse and are commonly used for medical treatment in the United States.
The following list includes examples of substances in each Schedule:
- Some examples of Schedule I substances are heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), magic mushrooms, mescaline, marijuana, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), ecstasy, bath salts, cathinone, cannabis, gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), and methadone.
- Common Schedule II examples are cocaine, methamphetamines, opium, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine and Vicodin.
- An example of a Schedule III substance is anabolic steroids.
- Schedule IV substances can include Diazepam, Valium, Alprazolam or Xanax.
- Most Schedule V substances are compound medications with small amounts of codeine or hydrocodone and stimulants that are not found in any other schedule.
The penalties for drug offenses in Florida usually depend on what schedule the substance is categorized in. If an individual is charged with a criminal offense in Jacksonville involving a Schedule I substance, they will typically be convicted of a higher degree felony and receive harsher penalties and punishments. Schedule V substance offenses are usually less penalized and may simply result in a misdemeanor conviction.
In recent years, synthetic marijuana, potpourri, and incense have become increasingly popular as synthetic drugs are viewed as legal alternatives to controlled substances. However, the state of Florida has routinely added various chemical compounds to the standards and schedules listed under Florida Statute § 893.03.
Some of the most common types of synthetic drugs in the Sunshine State include, but are not limited to:
Synthetic Cannabis — Cannabinoids marketed under brand names like K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Bombay Blue, Genie, Bliss, and Blaze, these are herbs with designer drugs usually sprayed over them. Also referred to as herbal incense, synthetic marijuana is intended to be a legal product having similar psychoactive effects to marijuana.
Bath Salts — Synthetic chemicals related to cathinone marketed under brand names such as Bloom, Cloud Nine, Ivory Wave, Lunar Wave, Scarface, Vanilla Sky, and White Lightning, these are usually white, off-white, or brown powders, although some bath salts come in liquid form. Depending on the psychoactive ingredient—mephedrone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) are two of the most common—the euphoric effects may be similar to amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), or crystal meth.
Flakka — Like bath salts, flakka is a synthetic cathinone usually involving alpha-pyrrolidinovalerophenone (PVP). It is generally a white crystalline powder that can be snorted, eaten, smoked, or vaped through an electronic cigarette, and the effects are similar to crack cocaine or crystal meth.
Florida laws are updated as frequently as officials can manage as more new drugs hit the market. It is important to understand that possession of any amount of these synthetic drugs in Jacksonville can result in criminal charges and penalties that are just as severe as the more well-known controlled substances.
Under Florida law, controlled substances can include any prescription medication, medication without a prescription, pills, street drugs, chemicals, natural substances or man-made substances. The Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act defines and describes all drug offenses and penalties for a drug conviction in the state of Florida. According to the Act, the following acts are prohibited in Florida and can result in a criminal conviction:
Possession with Intent to Sell — Florida Statute § 893.13(1)
Someone charged with this offense is accused of possessing a narcotic or controlled substance with the intent to sell, manufacture or deliver the drug or substance. This offense can result in a felony or misdemeanor conviction, depending on the type of substance, if the substance was intended to be sold to or the act was committed in front of someone who was under the age of 16, and the location where the drug was sold.
Drug Manufacturing —Florida Statute § 893.13(1)
A person who is accused of manufacturing a drug or narcotic faces this charge. This offense can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction, depending on the type of substance, if the substance was intended to be sold to or the act was committed in front of someone who was under the age of 16, and the location where the drug was sold. This offense can also result in a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
Drug Trafficking —Florida Statute § 893.13(1) or (5)
A person can be charged with this offense if accused of selling or delivering large quantities of any drug, narcotic or controlled substances. Most individuals are charged with this offense if they bring illegal drugs into Florida or out of the state of Florida. This offense can result in a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the schedule the drug falls into and the quantity of the substance.
Possession of a Controlled Substance —Florida Statute § 893.13(6)
An person charged with this offense is alleged to have possessed any controlled substance, drug or narcotic without a valid medical prescription. This offense can result in either a misdemeanor or felony conviction, depending on the schedule the drug falls into and the quantity of the substance.
According to Florida Statutes §§ 775.082, 775.083 and 775.084, the penalties and punishments for drug crimes can vary depending on a variety of factors. The most common reasons punishments for drug convictions vary are from the schedule the substance is classified in and the amount of the substance the individual possessed during the offense. Additionally, penalties can increase if an individual possesses a weapon during the commission of the offense, if they cause death or serious bodily injury to another person during the offense, if they are considered a habitual offender and/or if they have any prior convictions.
In addition to the preceding reasons, the penalties for a drug offense can increase depending on where in the Jacksonville area the crime was committed. If the offense was initially punishable as a felony of the third degree, if it was committed in any of the following places, the offense could increase to a felony of the second degree:
- Assisted living facilities
- Child care facilities
- Community centers
- Physical places of worship or where religious services are held
- Public housing facilities
- Public or private college, university or postsecondary educational institutions
- Public or private elementary, middle or secondary schools
- Publicly owned recreational facilities
- State, county or municipal parks
The minimum statutory penalties and punishments for drug crimes in Florida are generally as follows:
- Drug offenses that are classified as misdemeanors of the second degree can result in not more than 60 days in jail and/or a fine not more than $500.
- Drug offenses that are punishable as misdemeanors of the first degree can lead to a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $1,000.
- A drug conviction classified as a felony of the third degree can result in a prison sentence up to five years and/or a fine up to $5,000.
- A drug offense that is punishable as a felony of the second degree can lead to a prison sentence up to 15 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
- Drug offenses that are punishable as a felony of the first degree can result in a prison sentence not more than 30 years and/or a fine not more than $10,000.
- A drug offense classified as a life felony can lead to a prison sentence up to 30 years or life and/or a fine not more than $15,000.
As an alternative to traditional types of punishment, some drug offenders may be eligible for drug court in the Jacksonville area. Florida provides for drug court as a different type of sentence for drug offenders who have problems with substance abuse and who have committed criminal offenses as a result of the substance abuse.
Offenders who are eligible for the drug court program are those who are non-violent drug offenders. The program is entirely mandatory and participants in the program are required to follow rigorous requirements and seek treatment for the substance abuse problems. However, after an individual has successfully completed the program requirements, their charges will be dismissed.
Specifically, participants are required to be involved in the program for not less than one year, and are required to attend frequent progress meetings with a judge, receive alcohol and drug treatment and rehabilitations, possible counseling and undergo random alcohol and drug testing.
Duval County Drug Court – This link provides more information on the Adult Drug Court, Juvenile Drug Court, Dependency Drug Court, and Mental Health Court programs for the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over Duval County, Nassau County and Clay County. On this website, you can learn more about the history of these programs, the 10 key components for participants, and specific aspects for each program. There is also contact information for judges, case managers, and other staff.
Fourth Judicial Circuit Drug Courts
330 East Bay Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32202
Criminal Justice Substance Abuse Program — Also known as CJSAP, the Criminal Justice Substance Abuse Program provides licensed substance abuse prevention and intervention services to chemically dependent adults within the Duval County correctional system. Contracted services provided by Gateway Community Services, Inc. and River Region Human Services, Inc. are funded by the Social Services Division. CJSAP includes a four-month, 135-bed intensive substance abuse treatment unit for chemically dependent inmates within the Community Transition Center of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
1809 Art Museum Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32207
Drug Free Duval — Formerly known as Safe & Healthy Duval Coalition, Drug Free Duval is a community coalition working to prevent and reduce substance abuse and underage drinking in Duval County. The coalition is partners with such organizations as Northeast Florida Counts, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), and the Institute for Public Health Informatics and Research. On this website, you can learn about the coalition’s mission, vision, and upcoming events. There is also a blog and calendar with ways to get involved.
2010 Forbes Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32204
Narcotics Anonymous First Coast Area – Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a nonprofit organization for individuals who have substance abuse addictions to meet with other individuals who also suffer from substance abuse problems in order to counsel and support each other in overcoming their addictions. This link provides more information about the program and where meetings are held in Jacksonville and surrounding areas of Florida. There are also periodicals, event listings, bulletins, and discussion boards.
Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act – This link is to Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes, cited and known as the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. It contains definitions of words and phrases used throughout the chapter, schedules for controlled substances, and exceptions. There are also statutes relating to penalties for prohibited acts and mandatory sentences for trafficking.
Drug Enforcement Administration – The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is the national governmental agency that investigates and enforces the federal drug laws. This link is to the federal trafficking penalties for specific drugs, but there is also information on this website relating to drug scheduling and the Controlled Substances Act. You can also find drug fact sheets and more information about the DEA’s other operations.
Florida Department of Health Substance Abuse Program — The Florida Department of Health partners with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to work on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMH) Program, the program that the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) had designated the single state authority on substance abuse and mental health. Specific Department of Health resources on this page include information about preconception health and effects of drug use during pregnancy. There is also an online treatment facility locator and contact information for the National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Service.
U.S. Supreme Court Restricts Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs During Traffic Stops — The United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on April 21 that “a police stop exceeding the time needed to handle the matter for which the stop was made violates the Constitution’s shield against unreasonable seizures” in the Fourth Amendment. Dennys Rodriguez v. United States stemmed from a 2012 traffic stop in which Rodriguez was pulled over for veering onto a highway shoulder in Nebraska while trying to avoid a pothole. K-9 officer Morgan Struble took more than 20 minutes to complete records checks before issuing Rodriguez a warning and asking if he could run his drug-sniffing dog around the vehicle. Rodriguez declined and was ordered out of the vehicle before backup arrived and the dog alerted police to a large bag of methamphetamine. Rodriguez was indicted on one count of possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, but he sought to suppress the evidence seized from his vehicle on the grounds that the dog sniff was conducted without reasonable suspicion.
Florida Adds Five Chemical Compounds to Schedule I Controlled Substances — Florida’s Senate and House of Representatives unanimously passed Committee Substitute/House Bill (CS/HB) 897, adding five chemical compounds found in synthetic drugs to the state’s list of Schedule I controlled substances. The bill sponsored by Representative Clay Ingram passed in the House 116-0 on April 22 before passing 40-0 in the Senate on April 23. The identical companion Senate Bill CS/SB 1098 was sponsored by Senator Rob Bradley. Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a news release that state lawmakers and law enforcement agencies have outlawed 131 chemical compounds found in synthetic drugs since 2011.
Florida Governor, State Workers’ Union Resolve Drug-Testing Battle — Florida Governor Rick Scott agreed on April 20 to significantly scale back the scope of his proposed random drug testing program for state employees. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida filed lawsuits after Scott issued an executive order in 2011 requiring all state workers to undergo random drug tests. Under the proposed settlement, workers in 1,133 out of 1,400 types of state government jobs would not be tested, but random screens would still apply for roughly 7,000 workers in 157 safety-sensitive positions. The state will pay the ACLU $375,000 in attorney fees and courts costs under the agreement.
What is the difference between actual possession and constructive possession?
Actual possession involves drugs being found on your person, meaning in your hands, pockets, or a purse or backpack, and nobody else had equal access to the drugs. Constructive possession involves drugs being found in a place where multiple people may have had access and knowledge of the drugs. Examples might include the glove compartment of a car or a drawer or cabinet in a shared apartment.
Can my case be handled in drug court instead of criminal court?
Duval County Drug Court eligibility is limited to first-time offenders who do not have other pending felony charges. While there are multiple types of drug courts in Duval County, participation is not automatic. Having an attorney will significantly improve your chances of being accepted.
Does Florida impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses?
The Sunshine State does have mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for certain amounts of certain drugs. These are most often trafficking charges.
How can I be charged with trafficking when I had no intention of selling drugs?
A trafficking charge is determined entirely be the weight or amount of drug the alleged offender is found with. It does not matter if he or she was actively dealing the drug or had intent to sell it.
If I was caught with my own drugs and I plan on pleading guilty, why do I need a lawyer?
In several cases, drugs are illegally obtained by police. When this evidence is obtained without a valid warrant or as the result of an illegal search and seizure, an attorney can move to have the evidence suppressed or thrown out and make it nearly impossible for a prosecutor to obtain a conviction. It will cost you nothing to have legal counsel review your case and determine whether there are any defenses that may result in much more favorable outcome than accepting a guilty plea.
Were you arrested for any type of criminal offense involving a controlled substance in Florida? Roelke Law, P.A. can help you understand your rights and what legal defenses may be available to you, and our firm represents clients throughout Duval County and surrounding areas, including St. John’s County, Nassau County and Clay County.
Bill Roelke is an experienced Jacksonville drug crime attorney who will make every effort to fight the allegations against you and help you avoid the most serious penalties and punishments. Contact Roelke Law, P.A. at (904) 354-0333 for a free consultation about your alleged drug offense.