Florida law classifies the possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, dispense, manufacture or deliver as a second or third-degree felony, depending on the type of drug. Possession of illicit drugs may lead to a prison sentence and hefty court fines.
Knowing your legal rights in the state and familiarizing yourself with the following defense strategies for drug possession crimes may help you minimize the penalties or avoid the charges altogether.
Illegal police search and seizure
One way to fight a drug possession charge is by asserting the police searched for the drugs illegally. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects you from unreasonable search and seizure by the police. You may have grounds to challenge the legality of how the police obtained the drugs or paraphernalia. Generally, a police officer may conduct a search when:
- The officer places you under arrest.
- You give your consent.
- The police can provide a reasonable suspicion that requires a search.
- The police officer reasonably believes an immediate danger exists (i.e., you concealing a weapon).
Additionally, the plain view doctrine allows officers to seize evidence of a crime if it is clearly visible without having a search warrant.
Your defense strategy could also show that you, as the accused, were a victim of entrapment. Entrapment occurs if police officers or other government agents persuade you to commit a crime that you had no previous intent to commit. An entrapment defense does not cover someone ready, willing and able to commit the drug crime.
Overall, if you face accusations of drug possession with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver in Florida, you may have defenses to contest the charge.