Whether you are a Florida resident or simply visiting the area for summer vacation, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with two of the most commonly charged criminal offenses in the state.
The following article will help you better understand what these crimes entail, the penalties associated with them, and the ramifications of been charged with them.
In Florida, police are on the prowl for people using and possessing drugs more so than in many other states and the penalties tend to be more severe.
Aside from jail time and a steep fine, any misdemeanor drug possession conviction can lead to you losing your driving privileges for up to 2 years.
Additionally, having a criminal conviction on your record has the potential to jeopardize your job security and it could even prevent you from getting hired in the first place.
Remember, a criminal conviction is a public record that is easily obtainable, especially in the Age of the Internet.
Likewise, a criminal conviction could leave a stain on your record and make it harder for you to take out loans.
Although none of this is fair, it is a reality you ought to be aware of.
Make sure to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you avoid the stain of a criminal record.
The following is a listing of the most common drug-related offenses in Florida and the penalties associated with each of them.
- Possession of Less Than 20 Grams of Marijuana: If the police catch you in possession of marijuana and you have less than 20 grams of it, you will be guilty of a first degree misdemeanor. You can be put in jail for up to 1 year and face a fine of up to $1,000.
- Possession of More Than 20 Grams of Marijuana: If they catch you with more than 20 grams, you will be guilty of a third degree felony. You can be put behind bars for up to 5 years and be compelled to pay a fine of up to $5,000.
- Possession of a Controlled Substance: A controlled substance (CS) is any drug other than marijuana and it includes many prescription drugs. Common examples of “controlled substances” are heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy. Possessing a CS is a third degree felony and is on par with possessing more than 20 grams of marijuana. If convicted, you could go to prison for up to 5 years and face a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Possession of More Than 10 Grams of Heroin: Florida is especially strict when it comes to the possession of heroin, and all the more so when you are found with a lot of it. If the police catch you with more than 10 grams of heroin, they will charge you with a first degree felony. A conviction for this can lead to serving up to 30 years in prison and paying a fine of up to $10,000.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: Even if you are not caught with drugs, you can still be guilty of a drug-related crime. If the police find you with items commonly associated with drug use (e.g. pipes, bongs, other smoking devices, spoons, needles, syringes, scales, measuring devices, containers, bags, etc.) and the totality of the circumstances dictate that you were using or planning to use those items for drug-related purposes, you can be arrested. Make no mistake, you can go to jail for up to 1 year and pay a maximum fine of $1,000 if convicted. Remember, even if you have the item in your bathing suit pocket at the beach or stashed in a purse, this still counts as “possession” in Florida.
Another commonly charged crime in Florida is shoplifting.
If convicted, your punishment will depend on the value of what you attempt to steal.
For example, if the value of the merchandise that you allegedly stole is under $100, you will be charged with petit theft in the second degree (i.e. a second degree misdemeanor) and could spend up to 60 days behind bars.
If the value was between $100 and $300, you will be charged with a first degree misdemeanor and can face up to 1 year in prison.
If the value was between $300 and $5,000, you will face grand theft charges in the third degree and can be forced to serve up to 5 years in jail.
If you or a loved one were charged with a drug-related offense, shoplifting, or any other crime, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today.
Adam H. Rosenblum is a Clifton, New Jersey criminal defense lawyer licensed to practice in both New Jersey and New York.