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Possession of Methamphetamine in Florida

Methamphetamine, also known by the street names of Meth or Crystal Meth, is a highly addictive narcotic, which is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance in Florida.

It is a Third Degree Felony to possess less than fourteen (14) grams of Methamphetamine.

Trafficking Threshold

Possession of fourteen (14) grams or more of Methamphetamine is prosecuted as a drug trafficking offense. Importantly, the weight is determined not by how much pure Methamphetamine is present, but by how much the mixture containing the Methamphetamine weighs.

As a result, a person could have a mixture that contain less than fourteen (14) grams of pure Methamphetamine, but because the mixture's total weight is more than fourteen (14) grams, the person would be guilty of drug trafficking in Florida and subject to a minimum-mandatory prison sentence.

And because of the serious consequences for such a simple crime, it is important to know the:

Penalties for Methamphetamine Possession

The crime of Possession of Methamphetamine is classified as a Third Degree Felony and is assigned a Level 3 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code.

If convicted of Possession of Methamphetamine, a judge can impose any combination of the following penalties:

  • Five years of probation,
  • Five years in prison, or
  • A fine of up to a $5,000.

Driver's License Suspension

Pursuant to Florida Statute 322.055, any person convicted of Possession of Meth will have their driver’s license or driving privilege revoked for one year by the Florida DHSMV.

Defenses to Methamphetamine Possession

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific or common defenses to the crime of Possession of Methamphetamine are:

Constructive Possession

If the Methamphetamine was found in a place where more than one person had access, the prosecutor would have to comply with the law of constructive possession, which requires the prosecutor to prove the following two elements before you can be convicted of Possession of Methamphetamine: [1]

  1. Knowledge of the Methamphetamine's presence;
  2. Dominion and control over the Methamphetamine.

Below are scenarios where it can be argued the prosecutor could not meet their burden of proving constructive Possession of Methamphetamine.

Scenario 1: You were stopped while driving a friend's car and police find methamphetamine in the glove box, they would be unable to convict you of Possession of Methamphetamine unless they had some proof that you knew the methamphetamine was present.
Scenario 2: You were driving your car, had a friend with you, and your friend takes a bag of methamphetamine and places it at his feet. The police then stop you, see your friend's bag, and arrest both of you. They should be unable to convict you of Possession of methamphetamine because even though you knew the methamphetamine was present, your friend is the only person who exercised dominion and control over it.

Illegal Search and Seizure

More often than not, law enforcement exceed the scope of their authority and require people to submit to a vehicle, home, or body search; or they may coerce a person into agreeing to a search. If we can prove that either instance occurred, the courts will suppress the resulting evidence as having been illegally obtained.

Other suppression possibilities that may present themselves are: if law enforcement obtained a search warrant in bad faith or if you were arrested without probable cause.

Lack of Knowledge

It is an affirmative defense to the crime of Possession of Methamphetamine if you can prove that you did not know the substance in your possession was Methamphetamine. Importantly, this defense requires you to testify to your lack of knowledge of the substances' illegal nature. [2]

Overdose Defense

Any person who is experiencing a drug-related overdose and needs medical assistance, or a person assisting the person that needs medical assistance, is immune from prosecution for Possession of Methamphetamine if it can be shown the evidence was obtained as a result of the overdose and need for medical assistance. [3]

Valid Prescription Defense

Given how rarely Methamphetamine is lawfully prescribed, this defense would seldom be available. However, in the rare instance where a valid Methamphetamine prescription can be produced that pre-dated your arrest, you will have an absolute defense to the methamphetamine charge. [4]

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been charged or arrested with the crime of Possession of Methamphetamine in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

References

  1. GG v. State, 84 So. 3d 1162 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012)
  2. Florida Statute 893.101
  3. Florida Statute 893.21
  4. Florida Statute 893.13(6)(a)