Fort Lauderdale Drug Offense Attorney

Image of a suspected drug crime evidence

Are you facing drug offense charges in Fort Lauderdale or Broward County? Do you feel overwhelmed about what might come next? A Fort Lauderdale drug crime attorney from Phillips | Tadros, P.A., is here to help.

Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined legal experience and a strong reputation for meticulous trial preparation and commitment to our clients. We provide straightforward legal guidance to help you face these challenges head-on. When you meet with us at a free, no-obligation consultation, we will listen to you and understand your situation before making recommendations about how to proceed with your case.

Contact Phillips | Tadros, P.A., today for your free, confidential case review. We’ll discuss your Fort Lauderdale drug offense case and how we may be able to mount your defense.

Why You Need a Fort Lauderdale Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

Having a defense lawyer by your side is essential if you’re facing state or federal drug charges in Florida. A good attorney can guide you through the criminal justice system, protect your rights, and fight for a favorable outcome for your case by:

  • Representing you at bail hearings to argue for lower bail or that you be released on your own recognizance
  • Investigating the details of your arrest and the evidence against you, then developing a strategy that aligns with your specific circumstances and goals
  • Arguing for the dismissal of charges due to insufficient evidence, negotiating with prosecutors to reduce your charges, or seeking alternatives to incarceration, such as diversion programs or probation
  • Analyzing the prosecution’s case for weaknesses or procedural errors, preparing your defense for trial if your case goes to court, and working to keep the jury selection process fair and unbiased
  • Filing motions to suppress evidence that the authorities obtained illegally to weaken the prosecution’s case against you
  • Presenting evidence and arguments to support your defense at trial and questioning the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses
  • Appealing your case if there are grounds to challenge the verdict or sentence

How to Protect Your Rights During and After a Drug Arrest

If you’re facing drug charges in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, or elsewhere in Florida, it’s essential to act swiftly and wisely to protect your rights. Here are some recommendations to help you through this process:

  • Ask to see the warrant if officers attempt to search your property but do not resist arrest under any circumstances.
  • Remain silent and politely decline to answer questions without legal counsel, then contact a knowledgeable drug defense attorney as soon as possible. Communicate openly and honestly with your attorney about the details of your case.
  • Refrain from discussing your case on social media or with anyone other than your lawyer.
  • Follow all court orders and bail conditions meticulously and attend all scheduled court appearances without fail. Dress appropriately and behave respectfully in court.
  • Write down everything you remember about your arrest and any interactions you had with law enforcement. Collect any evidence that could support your defense, including witness information, and keep all documentation related to your case organized and accessible.

Understanding Florida Drug Possession Laws

Regulations for legal drugs in Florida are strict, and possession of controlled substances without a prescription can lead to serious charges. Among the finer details of Florida drug possession laws:

  • In Florida, possession of controlled substances is illegal unless you get them from a medical professional or through a valid prescription. Most violations of this law are third-degree felonies.
  • Possession of Schedule I or II drugs in quantities greater than 10 grams is a first-degree felony.
  • Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis, which doesn’t include certain cannabis extracts or derivatives, is a first-degree misdemeanor.
  • Possession of schedule III, IV, or V drugs is a second-degree misdemeanor.
  • Florida police officers have the authority to arrest someone without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe that person is violating the state’s drug possession laws.

The law specifies that unlawful possession can include “actual” or “constructive” possession:

  • Actual possession means having direct physical control over a drug. For example, if a person has illegal drugs in their pocket or hand, they have actual possession of those drugs.
  • Constructive possession involves having the power to access and control a drug, even if it’s not physically on one’s person. For instance, if a person has illegal drugs in their car trunk or in a closet at their home, and they are aware of that fact, they have constructive possession of those drugs.

What Are the Sentences for Drug Felonies and Misdemeanors in Florida?

Florida drug laws impose harsh penalties on crimes such as drug trafficking, manufacturing, and possession. Here’s an overview of the sentencing guidelines for different types of drug felonies and misdemeanors in Florida:

  • First-degree misdemeanor drug offenses are punishable by up to one year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. A common example of this type of offense is possession of small quantities of cannabis.
  • Second-degree misdemeanor drug offenses are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. Possession of drug paraphernalia is a common example of this type of offense.
  • First-degree felony drug offenses are punishable by up to 30 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. Trafficking in large quantities of drugs is a common example of a first-degree felony drug crime.
  • Second-degree felony drug offenses are punishable by up to 15 years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. Examples include drug manufacturing and cultivation, such as growing marijuana plants.
  • Third-degree felony drug offenses are punishable by up to five years in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. Examples include unlawful possession of controlled substances or prescription drugs.

What Are the Different Drug Schedules?

Florida law classifies drugs into different schedules based on their potential for abuse and whether they have a recognized medical use. In theory, each schedule groups drugs that share similar characteristics regarding their safety, potential for addiction, and therapeutic value. Here’s a breakdown of these schedules and some examples of the drugs that fall into each category.

Schedule I Drugs

Schedule I drugs are those with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use in the United States, making them the most restricted substances. Examples include heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and marijuana (cannabis).

Schedule II Drugs

Drugs in Schedule II also have a high potential for abuse but are recognized as having some medical uses, albeit with severe restrictions. Common examples of Schedule II drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, and oxycodone.

Schedule III Drugs

Schedule III drugs have a lower potential for abuse compared to schedules I and II and are accepted for medical use. This category includes anabolic steroids, codeine, and ketamine.

Schedule IV Drugs

Drugs in Schedule IV are characterized by a lower potential for abuse relative to Schedule III drugs and are commonly used in medical treatment. Examples include Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), and Ambien (zolpidem).

Schedule V Drugs

Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse and are frequently used for medical purposes, often containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Examples include prescription cough medicines with small quantities of codeine, such as Robitussin AC and Phenergan with Codeine.

What Are Common Defenses in Fort Lauderdale Drug Possession Cases?

If you face drug possession charges in Florida, your defense lawyer might use various strategies to challenge the charges against you or reduce the potential penalties. Here are some examples of defense strategies your attorney might use in a drug possession case:

  • Lack of Knowledge – Your attorney could demonstrate that you didn’t know about the presence of the drugs. For instance, if you borrowed a friend’s jacket without knowing it contained drugs, your lawyer could argue that you were unaware that the drugs were in the jacket. This strategy requires convincing the court that you had no knowledge of the controlled substance’s presence.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure – This strategy involves challenging the way law enforcement obtained the evidence against you. If the police didn’t have a valid warrant or a legitimate reason to search your property, the defense could argue that the search violated your Constitutional rights. If successful, the court could rule the evidence from the unlawful search as inadmissible.
  • Lack of Constructive Possession – This defense involves arguing that while the drugs were found near you, you did not have control over those drugs. For example, if drugs were found in a shared apartment, your lawyer might argue that there’s no evidence showing you knew about or were in control of the drugs, especially if multiple people could access them.
  • Medical Necessity – In cases where you were in possession of marijuana or other controlled substances for medical purposes, a drug possession lawyer might use the medical necessity defense. This requires proving that a doctor recommended the drug for a valid medical condition and that you didn’t use it in any way other than prescribed.