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Tampa Criminal Lawyer > Blog > Drug Crimes > Criminal Penalties for Narcotics Possession

Criminal Penalties for Narcotics Possession


In Florida, narcotics possession or possession with intent to distribute is treated very seriously. Penalties range from probation to mandatory minimum prison sentences. If you or a loved one were recently arrested for possession of a controlled substance or narcotic, contact an attorney for immediate help.

Classifying Illegal & Prescription Narcotics

The United States Drug Enforcement Agency uses a classification system for drugs. Drugs are classified between Schedule 1 and Schedule 5, depending on effects, dependency and therapeutic use. LSD and heroin are classified as Schedule 1 because they have no therapeutic use and are highly addictive. An example of a schedule 2 drug is morphine, which is prescribed therapeutically but is also highly addictive. Fentanyl, oxycodone, adderall and dilaudid are also highly effective for treating pain, and extremely addictive narcotics classified as Schedule 2 drugs.

Penalties for possession of a Schedule 1 drug, like heroin, is a felony, carrying a prison term of  up to thirty years and thousands of dollars in fines. Fla. Stat. § 893.13 (2020) Possession of less than 10 grams of  a schedule 2 drug is a third degree felony meaning a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years and fines. In addition to prison time, a convicted felon who is paroled is required to complete mandatory supervised probation and in some instances community service. Failure to maintain contact with your parole officer may result in mandatory reprimand. Multiple felony convictions for drug possession or possession with intent to distribute incur additional sentences or fines.

In addition to criminal penalties, drug conviction is highly stigmatized. Felony convictions can make it almost impossible to pass a background check or obtain gainful employment. It’s also difficult to obtain a loan, attend classes or obtain federal student loans. Issues may arise when searching for an apartment or home as well. You may be unable to obtain a professional license or your driving privileges could be negatively impacted.

Potential defenses

An officer must have probable cause to arrest a suspect for criminal possession. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, your detention may have been unlawful and any evidence gathered against you would be thrown out. If you were charged with possession as a result of a routine traffic stop or if you contend that drugs were planted on you, you may have additional options. It is critical that you do not delay in obtaining counsel. Remember that you have the right to remain silent and request a lawyer at arrest and prior to arraignment. Failure to obtain counsel may result in remand without the possibility of bail review or loss of potential defenses.

Schedule a consultation today 

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for drug possession or possession with intent to distribute narcotics or any other illegal substance, Tampa drug crime attorney Bryant Scriven can assist you. It’s also crucial to remember that possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription, you may also be charged with fraud. As discussed, the penalties for these crimes are dire. Please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal rights and options.

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