POSSESSION OF A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

Drug Crime Attorney Representing Hillsborough County Residents

A conviction for possession of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, MDMA (Ecstasy), opium, morphine, anabolic steroids, or diazepam, may have many long-term consequences for a defendant. Florida residents in this situation may face imprisonment, fines, community service, the suspension of driving privileges, and probation. In addition, a criminal record may adversely affect a defendant’s employment prospects and educational opportunities in the years to come. However, an accusation is not a conviction, and the defendant in a criminal case has a constitutional right to defend him or herself to the fullest extent of the law. Knowledgeable Hillsborough County drug crime lawyer Maj Vasigh is here to help you assert your rights if you are facing charges related to the possession of a controlled substance in state or federal court.

Defending Against a Possession of a Controlled Substance Charge

To sustain a charge, the State must prove each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In order for a defendant to be found guilty of the possession of a controlled substance under Florida law, the State must prove that he or she willfully possessed an illegal, controlled substance. Within this definition are several elements, each of which must be met. “Possession,” for instance, is defined as including either actual possession (for example, a joint found in the defendant’s pants pocket) or constructive possession (like a bottle of pills stored in the glove compartment of the defendant’s vehicle). The controlled substances forbidden under the law are numerous and are classified into five schedules, depending upon their potential for abuse and whether they have an accepted medical use.

It is critically important for a defendant to avail him or herself of every possible defense because the punishment for a conviction of possessing a controlled substance may be very harsh. For example, a first offender caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana may be convicted of a misdemeanor and face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In another example, a habitual offender who is convicted of felony possession of more than 10 grams of a Schedule I drug, such as heroin, may face life imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines. A person who is convicted of possession of a controlled substance may also be required to enroll in a residential treatment program, be on home detention, or be on probation or post-imprisonment parole.

In addition to the protections offered to criminal defendants by the U.S. Constitution, such as freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, there are some specific defenses that may apply in controlled substance possession cases. These include attacking the credibility or reliability of an informant used by police to obtain a warrant, the defendant’s lack of dominion and control over the drugs at issue, the defendant’s lack of knowledge of the presence of the substances, entrapment, or a valid prescription for the drugs that were the subject of the arrest. As part of a defense strategy, a criminal attorney may file a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence, arguing that such evidence is the “fruit of the poisonous tree” and thus inadmissible at trial.

Consult a Hillsborough County Lawyer for a Drug Crime Charge

Facing prosecution for possession of a controlled substance or another drug charge can be daunting, but having quality legal counsel by your side can help tremendously. To schedule a free appointment with a Hillsborough County drug crime attorney, call us at (813) 800-1111 or contact us online. We have a 24-hour emergency line, so you can reach us at any time of day or night. We can assist residents of Tampa, New Tampa, Carrollwood, Brandon, Riverview, and Valrico who need a criminal defense attorney to help them fight a wide range of charges.