Possession of Xanax in Florida
In Florida, Xanax, the trade name for Alprazolam, is a Schedule IV controlled substance and it is a Third Degree Felony to possess any amount of Xanax without a prescription.
As a Schedule IV controlled substance, Xanax is considered to have a low potential for abuse and is currently accepted for medical use in treatment in Florida and the United States.
Penalties for Xanax Possession
In Florida, the crime of Possession of Xanax is a Third Degree Felony and punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
Possession of Xanax is assigned a Level 3 offense severity ranking under Florida's Criminal Punishment Code and a judge may sentence a person convicted of Possession of Xanax to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.
Driver's License Suspension
Pursuant to Florida Statute 322.055, any person convicted of Possession of Xanax will have their driver’s license or driving privilege revoked for one year by the Florida DHSMV.
Defenses to Xanax Possession
- Constructive Possession
- Illegal Search and Seizure
- Lack of Knowledge
- Overdose Defense
- Prescription Defense
- Temporary Possession
If the Xanax 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 Xanax: 
- Knowledge of the Xanax's presence; and
- Dominion and control over the Xanax, which means more than the mere ability to reach out and touch the Xanax. 
Below are scenarios where it can be argued the prosecutor could not meet their burden of proving constructive Possession of Xanax.
Scenario 1: You were stopped while driving a friend's car and police find Xanax in the glove box, they would be unable to convict you of Possession of Xanax unless they had some proof that you knew the Xanax was present.
Scenario 2: You were driving your car, had a friend with you, and your friend takes a bag of Xanax 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 Xanax because even though you knew the Xanax 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 Xanax if you can prove that you did not know the substance in your possession was Xanax. Importantly, this defense requires you to testify to your lack of knowledge of the substance's illegal nature. 
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 Xanax if it can be shown the evidence was obtained as a result of the overdose and need for medical assistance. 
While it seems obvious, many people are arrested for Possession of Xanax when they are unable to produce a valid prescription or a recently dispensed pill bottle. These arrests usually occur when law enforcement have stopped your for suspicious behavior and discover the Xanax in an unconventional container.
However, if either a valid Xanax prescription can be produced that pre-dated the arrest or a doctor executes a letter that they dispensed a sample amount, you will have an absolute defense to the Xanax charge. 
The defense of temporary possession can be raised where a person takes momentary, temporary, or transitory possession of Xanax from the true owner. Under such circumstances, the person is not considered to be in legal possession of the Xanax because the person never exercised complete dominion and control over the Xanax. 
Examples of temporary possession are when a person is handed Xanax by the true owner and asked to hide it during a police encounter, such as a traffic stop; when holding Xanax in the presence of a drug dealer for the sole purpose of verifying or testing the Xanax prior to purchasing it; or when passing the Xanax from the owner to a third person.
Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby
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