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Is Drug Possession a Misdemeanor or Felony Offense?

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

February 21, 2020

Florida Drug Possession Laws

In Florida, it’s a crime to be in possession of a controlled substance. The level of charge you could face for an offense depends on several factors, including the type and the amount of drugs. In many cases, drug possession is a felony. However, in some instances, it is charged as a misdemeanor. If the offense is a felony, there are varying degrees it can be charged, which affect the penalties you could face.

Florida’s Drug Schedules

Drug possession charges are based on Florida’s schedule of drugs. There are 5 categories of controlled substances, and they are placed in a certain schedule based on their potential for abuse, medical use, and potential for dependency.

Florida’s drug schedules are as follows:

  • Schedule I: These are substances that have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. They include drugs such as heroin, cannabis, LSD, and peyote.
  • Schedule II: This category of drugs includes substances with a high potential for abuse and accepted medical use. They may also cause severe psychological or physical dependence. Examples of Schedule II controlled substances include opium, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone.
  • Schedule III: Substances in this category include those with a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs. They have an accepted medical use and a low risk of physical dependence but a high potential for psychological dependence. Drugs listed in this schedule include lysergic acid, anabolic steroids, ketamine, and testosterone.
  • Schedule IV: Relative to drugs in Schedule III, substances in Schedule IV have a low potential for abuse. They have an accepted medical use and may result in limited physical or psychological dependence. Substances in this schedule include orbital, clonazepam, diazepam, and tramadol.
  • Schedule V: These substances have the lowest potential for abuse and risk of physical or psychological dependence relative to the drug in the preceding 4 schedules. They also have an accepted medical use. Schedule V drugs include cough suppressants, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin.

Florida Drug Possession Penalties

The level of charge you could face for drug possession depends on where in the controlled substances schedules it’s listed.

Under Florida law, drug possession charges are as follows:

  • First-degree felony drug possession: Possessing more than 10 grams of specific Schedule I drugs can result in a first-degree felony charge. Potential conviction penalties include up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Second-degree felony drug possession: This degree is levied against a person who has certain Schedule I and II controlled substances. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third-degree felony drug possession: If a person is in control of specific Schedule I or Schedule II drugs or any Schedule III or Schedule IV drugs, they could be charged at this level. If they’re convicted, they could be penalized by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  • First-degree misdemeanor drug possession: A person could face this level of charge if they possess a Schedule V drug or 20 grams or less of marijuana. Conviction penalties include up to 1 year in prison and/or up to $1,000 in fines.

When a prosecutor pursues a drug possession case, they must prove that the defendant knew that the substance they had was a controlled substance, that the substance was a prohibited drug, and the defendant was in actual control of it.

Depending on the circumstances, various defenses may be raised on your behalf, and you can effectively fight your charges.

To learn more about your legal options in Daytona Beach, call Hager & Schwartz, P.A. at (386) 693-1637 or contact us online today.