Drug charges can lead to repercussions that affect many areas of your life, ranging from your employability and financial security to the loss of voting rights and the ability to own firearms. Achieving a fair outcome in these cases, however, is possible with the assistance of an experienced criminal attorney. Pensacola drug crime lawyer Ryan M. Cardoso understands that protecting your constitutional rights during the legal proceedings is just as important as defending against the charges. He will devote the time necessary to address your concerns, keep you updated as your case progresses, and develop a strategy that leaves no stone unturned. Ryan M. Cardoso also represents people facing charges of domestic violence and other crimes under Florida and federal laws.Overview of Florida Drug Laws and Penalties
Drug crimes consist of Florida and federal criminal offenses related to controlled substances, which are categorized by schedule. They include illicit drugs such as heroin, ecstasy, LSD, and other drugs that serve no medical purpose. In addition, some drugs with accepted medical uses are also classified as controlled substances. For example, opium, morphine, Vicodin, Xanax, Ambien, Adderall, Percocet, anabolic steroids, and many other pharmaceutical drugs are controlled substances under Florida and federal laws. Recently, however, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. While the law in this area is still developing, it is understood that, just as with many other pharmaceutical drugs, a valid prescription is required to possess or consume medical marijuana.
In Florida, drug laws prohibit possessing, selling, delivering, importing, trafficking, manufacturing, and cultivating controlled substances. There are also laws covering related aspects, such as possession of drug paraphernalia, drugged driving, and selling or possessing prescription drugs. A majority of Florida drug crimes are felony offenses by degree. Generally, the degree charged in a particular situation is determined by the amount and schedule of the controlled substance involved. A drug crime attorney in Pensacola can help you determine the degree of the charge that you may be facing. For example, possession of less than 28 grams of cocaine is a third-degree felony, but possessing 28 grams or more is considered drug trafficking, which is a first-degree felony in Florida and carries a minimum mandatory prison sentence. The length of a minimum mandatory prison sentence for drug trafficking is based on the amount of controlled substance at issue in the case.
A drug conviction can result in jail or prison time, a large fine, probation, community control, participation in a drug court program, a driver’s license suspension, community service, and other lasting consequences. The sentence imposed will depend on the offense charged, the defendant’s criminal record, and other factors, such as whether the crime was committed near a school. Your Pensacola drug crime attorney can discuss the specific penalties that may be involved in your case.Defenses Against a Florida Drug Charge
Florida is well-known for its aggressive enforcement of drug laws and tough penalties upon a conviction. However, you should know that an arrest on drug charges will not always result in a conviction on those charges. In many cases, a defense attorney may be able to make a procedural argument based on a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement cannot undertake searches and seizures of a person or their property without a valid warrant, unless one of a small group of exceptions applies. For example, if the police seize drugs from your home or motor vehicle without a warrant, and an exception to the warrant requirement does not apply, your attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence to have the evidence excluded at trial. If granted, a motion to suppress can win your case because it is unlikely that the prosecutor can successfully prosecute a drug charge without any evidence of drugs.
The prosecution also has a heavy burden to prove each substantive element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In a drug possession case, for example, the prosecution must prove that the item seized was in fact a controlled substance, that the defendant had possession or physical control of the drugs, and that the defendant knew that they were in possession of the drugs. An attorney often can raise an argument that the defendant did not have control over the drugs at issue.Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Drug Crime Lawyer in Pensacola
Whether you have been arrested for the first time or have prior convictions, retaining a qualified criminal lawyer is an important step in defending your case. Ryan M. Cardoso devotes personalized attention to each of his clients, with the goal of achieving the best available outcome in their situation. Mr. Cardoso has represented people in communities such as Pensacola, Cantonment, Century, Gulf Breeze, Jay, Milton, Navarre, and Pace, as well as elsewhere in Santa Rosa and Escambia Counties. To arrange a free consultation regarding your case, contact the Law Offices of Ryan M. Cardoso, PLLC by calling (850) 466-2073 or submitting our online form. We also handle theft cases and other criminal matters.