Florida drug laws are tougher than most states due to efforts to curb drug trafficking. Even a charge of simple possession in Fort Meyers can come with stiff consequences. Drug crimes commonly get charged at the state or federal level based on the amount or whether the drug crossed state borders.
A simple possession charge means that the person is accused of carrying an illegal drug under a certain amount with no intent to sell it. Like most states, Florida divides drugs into schedules according to the risk for abuse with Schedule I having the highest risk.
Possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana, a Schedule I drug, commonly counts as a misdemeanor. Penalties for the first offense may include one to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine. Possessing 28 grams or more of cocaine may get charged as a third-degree felony with up to a five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine.
Drug trafficking involves the intent to sell, manufacture and distribute illegal substances, and it carries stiffer penalties. Trafficking heroin, hydrocodone and cocaine commonly count as first-degree felonies with a possibility of up to 30 years in prison. Fines and minimum and mandatory sentencing depend on the amount of the substance.
Trafficking between 25 and 2,000 pounds of marijuana may result in a minimum three-year jail term and a $25,000 fine. The jail term increases to seven years and a $50,000 fine for 2,000 pounds to 10,000 pounds of marijuana. A person can also get charged for illegally selling prescription drugs, which commonly fall under Schedule II. Trafficking drugs with a minor or within 1,000 feet of a school may result in a stiffer sentence for even a first offense.
Drug charges can follow the defendant around long after serving the sentence, but it’s possible to fight the charges. An individual accused of drug possession or trafficking should consult a lawyer to help them present a defense.