Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg is located, is among the top five counties with the highest rates of arrest for drug possession in Florida. Other drug crimes are often charged there as well. The penalties that you face if you are convicted of a drug charge depend on the controlled substance involved, the quantity of it, and how it was to be used. At Hanlon Law, St. Petersburg drug crime lawyer Will Hanlon takes pride in providing superior criminal defense representation to people charged with drug crimes. He takes the rights of the accused seriously and can examine your case closely to determine a defense strategy with a strong likelihood of success.Drug Charges Carry Serious Consequences
Many different narcotic and pharmacological drugs are considered controlled substances in Florida. The simplest charges are those involving drug possession. Some drugs that are subject to criminal prosecution when illegally possessed include cocaine, fentanyl, GHB, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, MDMA, oxycodone, and Xanax. The nature of the controlled substance will control the charge and potential sentence. For example, cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance that is considered to have a high possibility of being abused. If you possess less than 28 grams of cocaine, it can be charged as a third-degree felony drug crime. This means that you face up to five years’ imprisonment, a $5,000 fine, and five years’ probation. When you are caught with 28 or more grams of cocaine, you can be charged with cocaine trafficking.
Another drug crime involves sale or delivery. Again, the type of controlled substance at issue and the quantity will determine both the charges and the potential sentence. For example, under Florida Statute section 893.13(1)(a)(1), selling methamphetamine occurs if somebody sells, makes, or delivers methamphetamine, or possesses it with the intent to sell, make, or deliver it. It is a second-degree felony, which means that, if convicted, you face the possibility of up to 15 years’ imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, and 15 years of probation.
It is important to retain a drug crime attorney in St. Petersburg as soon as you are accused. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney's early involvement can result in no criminal charges being brought. For example, we may be able to convince the prosecution that there is insufficient evidence to win the case.
If this is your first time being accused of drug possession, there may be alternatives in sentencing. For example, if you are a first-time, nonviolent offender, you may have the option of going to pretrial diversion, which is like probation. You will need to report to an officer on a monthly basis, be subjected to random drug testing, perform community service, and avoid any criminal activity. If you complete the program successfully, the charges are dropped. In other cases, if you do have minor crimes on your record, you may be able to get pretrial intervention, which is a program operated by the court. However, not all judges participate in pretrial intervention.
Another option is drug court, which is for repeat offenders. The idea behind drug court is to identify and evaluate people who are substance abusers so that they can avoid going into the usual criminal justice system. If you successfully complete drug court, the charges are dropped.
In other cases, there may be appropriate defenses that a St. Petersburg drug crime attorney can raise to fight the charges. For example, if evidence of the drugs was obtained as a result of police overreach or an intrusion on your rights, we may be able to file a motion to suppress on the basis of a Fourth Amendment violation. A police officer needs to have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to stop a vehicle. When drugs are seized due to an improper stop that was made without a reasonable suspicion, the evidence may be suppressed. Similarly, a police officer needs to have probable cause to conduct a search of your car. If cocaine was found in your car when a police officer did not have probable cause, it may be appropriate to have the evidence of cocaine suppressed.Discuss Your Case with a Drug Crime Lawyer in St. Petersburg
If you are charged with a drug crime, you should consult our experienced criminal defense firm. Our founder, Will Hanlon, has been providing criminal defense representation to people facing drug trafficking and other charges involving narcotics since 1994. We are committed to defending the rights of the accused. Call Hanlon Law at 727.897.5413 or complete our online form.