ORLANDO DRUG CRIME LAWYERS
ARE YOU FACING DRUG CHARGES IN ORLANDO, FL?
It is illegal to possess, trade, sell, deliver, or offer to sell/trade/deliver any “drug” in Florida. Our state has a long list of “controlled substances” that it classifies as “drugs.” In addition to common street level drugs like cocaine, heroin, MDMA, LSD, methamphetamines, and marijuana, medicines that can only be obtained via a prescription are also illegal to possess without a doctor having prescribed that medicine to you. Often times, the weight of the controlled substance determines how serious of a charge and penalty you are facing. Typically, the greater the weight, the more severe the potential penalties.
As a top-rated Orlando law firm with expert criminal defense attorneys, Longwell Lawyers provides exceptional legal counsel for individuals in need of representation for drug charges. Established in 1993, the Orlando law firm of Longwell Lawyers understands how to effectively handle any criminal charge.
Whether you are facing allegations of drug possession, sale and delivery, or drug trafficking charges, it is important to speak with an Orlando drug crime attorney who knows how to help you. Contact Longwell Lawyers for a free consultation.
Drugs do not have to be physically in a person’s pocket or in their bag for that person to be charged with Drug Possession. In fact, the government can charge all occupants of a car with the same drugs found inside of the car. That is because of a concept called “Joint Possession.” Moreover, prosecutors can accuse someone of “possessing” drugs in 2 different ways: Actual Possession and Constructive Possession.
Actual Possession is what everyone usually thinks of when picturing someone getting “busted” for drugs; it’s in your hand, pocket, wallet, or purse, etc.
Constructive Possession, on the other hand, is typically charged when drugs are near a person: in the glove box; in a jar in the kitchen; a drawer in the bedroom; laying on a coffee table, etc.
Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell/Deliver
If law enforcement believes that a person is not only possessing a drug, but also intends to sell that drug, or to deliver that drug to someone else, prosecutors can charge a more serious crime that potentially carries increased penalties. Typically, if law enforcement finds drugs that are individual packaged, or a wallet with small bills organized to easily hand out change (i.e. a “Dealer’s Wallet”), they will attempt to charge someone with “Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Sell/Deliver.”
Sale and Delivery of a Controlled Substance
Occasionally, people are accused of selling drugs to another person. Essentially, if law enforcement believes that someone is dealing drugs, they will attempt to charge someone with this crime. These cases typically involve undercover agents, sting operations, and/or confidential police informants.
Trafficking in a Controlled Substance
The term “Drug Trafficking” is often associated with grand schemes to import large quantities of drugs from some foreign county into the U.S. The notion conjures Hollywood-esque scenes reminiscent of Scarface, Narcos, and Breaking Bad. More generally, people think that trafficking at least requires moving a drug from one place to another. In Florida, however, while a Trafficking charge can encompass the behavior described above, “Drug Trafficking” simply means that you possessed a certain quantity of drugs. How much drugs you have to possess to qualify for a trafficking charge varies by drug. This charge typically carries mandatory prison time, if convicted.
Criminal charges are designated as varying degrees of misdemeanors and felonies, according to the Florida Criminal Code. Each offense is further categorized into levels according to an “Offense Severity Ranking Chart” and assigned a corresponding point value. The points are calculated and form the basis for the guideline sentence that the court should impose, according to the Florida Criminal Punishment Code. Many drug charges carry mandatory minimum prison sentences, a loss of your license, and other onerous penalties.
A person cannot be sentenced or have penalties imposed if found not guilty or if the case is dropped or dismissed. The law affords every accused person of the right to due process, including the right to have the court prohibit or limit the use of evidence that was not lawfully or fairly obtained. Ultimately, an accused has the right to be presumed innocent and to require, through a jury trial, that the government must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Our firm offers Spanish and Portuguese-speaking services.
In addition to the many Pre-Trial Motions and Defenses available in most criminal cases, there are the following defenses available to most drug related charges:
Lack of Knowledge
One of the hardest tasks that a prosecutor has is proving “knowledge.” To convict someone of a drug related crime, the prosecution must prove that the defendant knew of the presence of a substance and knew that the substance was a drug. As one might expect, proving what was going on in someone’s mind can be a daunting task. If a substance is plainly visible (i.e. “in plain view”) then the prosecution is allowed to argue that the defendant knew about the drug, but this argument does not always carry weight with jurors.
Lack of Control
Prosecutors must also prove that a criminal defendant had control over the drug. Control can be established by proof that a defendant had direct personal power to control the substance or the present ability to direct its control by another. In other words, merely because an item is near someone, does not mean that just anyone has the apparent authority to exert power over that object. For example, upon seeing a TV’s remote control sitting on his neighbor’s coffee table, it is unlikely that a house guest would simply pick up the remote and change the channel without first asking the homeowner “Hey! Mind if I change it?” That is because, even though the remote control might have been in plain view, its not normal to assume that anyone in the house has permission to change the channel. Lack of control over an item in plain view is a complete defense to drug charges stemming from that drug.
A good attorney knows to challenge every assertion the government makes. Just because an officer or a lab analysist claim that a substance weighs a particular amount does not mean that claim is the objective truth. Often times, weights will be “exaggerated” by arresting officers simply to make it harder for an accused person to post bond. While proving that a measurement was not accurate is not a complete defense, it can often be used to lessen charges.
Lack of Intent
A person must intend to possess/sell/delivery/etc. a drug. “Mere proximity” to an item will not suffice. All too often, people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time find themselves charged with drugs they did not even intend to possess.
The government is not allowed to trick or talk someone into committing a crime. If they do, the person who was tricked/convinced can assert an “Entrapment Defense” to avoid criminal responsibility for that crime.
For more details on Entrapment, click here.
A person may briefly possess a controlled substance for the sole purpose of legal disposal. In order to find the defendant briefly possessed a controlled substance for the sole purpose of legal disposal, a jury must find all of the following:
- Defendant possessed the controlled substance.
- Defendant acquired the controlled substance without unlawful intent.
- The possession of the controlled substance was brief and defendant sought to dispose of the controlled substance without delay.
- The temporary possession was solely for the purpose of legal disposal.
“Legal disposal” means to destroy or throw away the controlled substance or to turn in the controlled substance to a law enforcement officer.
It is a defense to the charges of possession and trafficking via possession for a person to possess a controlled substance which he/she lawfully obtained from a practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice.
This affirmative defense has been extended by various Florida appellate courts to “authorized persons.” Essentially, we have all gone to the local pharmacy to pick up a family member’s prescription before. This is lawful conduct and should not result in arrests or convictions. Unfortunately, not every law enforcement officer is aware of this defense. More problematic are officers who simply do not believe people when they claim they are bringing legally prescribed medication to a close friend or family member.
Drug Related cases nearly always involve a stop, a search, or a confidential informant….
Whenever the government detains someone, searches them or their property, and/or employs a confidential informant, there are many ways to challenge the legality of the government’s actions. If the government conducts a search without a warrant, it is presumptively invalid and the burden is on the government, upon a proper challenge, to prove the validity of the search and seizure. Whenever the government/law enforcement acts improperly, evidence can be excluded. Often times, the entire case can be dismissed.
Motions to Suppress
Motions to Suppress are Pre-Trial Motions that seek to throw out evidence that is unlawfully collected or inadmissible. Such motions argue, essentially, that law enforcement has acted unlawfully (such as violating a person’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable government searches and seizures).
Police stop your car for no reason? Could be an illegal stop. File a Motion to Suppress.
Police harass you on a sidewalk even though you were doing nothing wrong? Could be an illegal detention. File a Motion to Suppress.
Police handcuff you and keep you on the side of the road while they wait for drug dogs too arrive? Could be an unconstitutionally prolonged delay in the stop. File a Motion to Suppress.
Police make you feel like you had no choice but to allow them to search? That might be coerced consent. File a Motion to Suppress.
Does the language of that search warrant sound fishy? The warrant might have been improperly issued. File a Motion to Suppress.
Police make promises or threats to get you to talk? Might be improper influence. File a Motion to Suppress.
Motions for Sanctions
The Constitution also affords those people who have been accused of crimes a guarantee of Due Process. “Due Process” is a constitutional right that ensures everyone has the same ability to defend their case. If the government somehow limit’s a person’s due process rights, judges must fashion a sanction that can include dismissing a case.
When it comes to drug related cases, Due Process concerns typically arise in a few common circumstances:
- An alleged drug has been lost or misplaced (and now the defense cannot conduct its own testing of the substance)
- An alleged drug has been completely consumed by government testing (and now the defense cannot conduct its own testing of the substance)
- Hidden camera footage has been lost/deleted (and now the Defense cannot properly cross examine his accusers)
- A confidential informant is necessary to the prosecution’s case (and the Defense cannot properly prepare for trial without knowing the confidential informant’s identity)
If any of these things occur, we can file a Motion for Sanctions that asks the judge to do a number of things including:
- Disclose the C.I.’s identity
- Instruct the jury that it should assume the missing video would have been favorable to the defense
- Dismiss the case in its entirety.
When you have been accused of a drug crime, it is essential to have an experienced and dedicated criminal defense lawyer by your side. Having a drug crime lawyer on your side gives you access to specialized resources and expertise that can help strengthen your case. They may know more about local laws, procedural rules, and any relevant precedents that could be used in your defense.
An Orlando drug crime attorney will be able to evaluate any evidence against you, determine the legal defense that apply to your case and file the proper motions to do whatever it takes to have your entire case dismissed. If acquittal is not an option, they may negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to reduce the charges and/or penalties you face, which means you could avoid serving any time behind bars.
With their knowledge of the criminal justice system, they can advise you on what options are best for your situation, such as seeking a plea bargain or going to trial. An attorney’s support in building a strong defense can make all the difference in getting a favorable outcome from your case.
For any type of criminal charge in Orlando and all of Central Florida, including Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Brevard, Lake, Sumter, Polk, and Volusia Counties, the attorneys at Longwell Lawyers know how to help you. We have attorneys and staff available who are fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and English.
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If you're in need of an AMAZING lawyer to handle your legal troubles, look no further. Longwell Lawyers are the absolute BEST. My husband needed an attorney after he found himself in trouble and we were directed to Longwell after a family member had seen a news report featuring them. From the first call, and being assigned to Ms. Abraham as a client, to speaking with her and hearing, just how dedicated she is to achieving a positive outcome for her clients we knew he was in good hands. She called us just a couple of days before Thanksgiving and gave us the greatest gift..the news that the case was dropped, there was no longer need to worry from day to day about what was going to happen. From start to the now conclusion of this, Longwell's team has been THE BEST. Easy to contact, easy to talk to, and makes you feel at ease in situation that you would hope to never find yourself in, but unfortunately do sometimes in life. Suzanne, Carmen N. and Muna as well as the rest of the team at Longwell Lawyers are the greatest. Top flight lawyers on the world in our book!!!
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