Cocaine has a long and sordid history in Florida that has essentially made the drug synonymous with the Sunshine State. Police and prosecutors in Florida have placed a tremendous emphasis on cocaine prohibition in the decades since President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse was “America's public enemy number one” when the substance was attributed to rises in crime.
State law makes it a felony for an alleged offender to possess any amount of cocaine in Florida. People may be subject to possible imprisonment, fines, and driver’s license revocation for merely having seemingly empty bags with mere residue of powder cocaine.
Were you or your loved one recently arrested for allegedly being in possession of cocaine in Florida? You will want to immediately contact Terrezza Law for help achieving the best possible outcome to your case.
Pensacola drug crime attorney John Terrezza defends clients in communities throughout Santa Rosa County and Escambia County. He will provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case to help you understand your legal options when you call (850) 764-5291 or send us an online contact form for a free consultation.
Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(a) makes it a third-degree felony for a person to be in actual or constructive possession of cocaine. The type of possession has no additional impact on the criminal charges, but it can impact the ability of a prosecutor to obtain a conviction.
Actual possession is defined as when alleged offenders have controlled substances on their physical person. Cocaine that is in a person’s hand, pockets, or close enough to be within the alleged offender’s reach and under that person’s immediate control is considered actual possession.
Constructive possession applies when cocaine is found not on the actual person of an alleged offender but in an area under the alleged offender’s control, such as in a house or car. Allegations of cocaine possession involving constructive possession can be harder to prosecute because the knowledge of drug’s presence required for conviction is usually based on circumstantial evidence.
Third-degree felony offenses carry very stiff punishments for convictions. Alleged offenders may be sentenced to any combination of the following:
It is important to note that third-degree felony charges for cocaine possession only apply to cases in which a person allegedly possesses less than 28 grams. When alleged offenders are in possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine, they can face drug trafficking charges.
An arrest is not the same as a conviction, and there could be any number of possible issues that could be raised to fight the criminal charges. An attorney can help you explore all of your possible defense options.
While every case is different, some of the most common defenses in these types of cases include, but are not limited to:
Cocaine Anonymous (CA) Florida Area — CA identifies itself as “a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem, and help others to recover from their addiction.” It is similar to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) in that both use a 12-step program, but NA is open to all types of drug addicts while CA is exclusively for people addicted to cocaine. On this website, you can find the dates and times of meetings in the Pensacola area and see a calendar of upcoming events.
Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (FSA) — The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 established a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison without parole for possession of five grams of crack cocaine despite the fact that an alleged offender needed to be convicted of possessing 500 grams of powder cocaine to receive the same mandatory sentence. The FSA reduced this 100:1 disparity to 18:1 after reports from the United States Sentencing Commission suggested that the penalty levels for crack and powder cocaine should be reexamined. While the FSA was not retroactive and fell short of the one-to-one ratio many observers felt would be most fair, the Sentencing Commission has estimated that the enactment of the FSA means nearly 3,000 people charged with federal crack offenses will receive shorter sentences. You can read the United States Sentencing Commission’s Report on the Impact of the FSA on this website.
If you have been arrested for allegedly possessing cocaine in Florida, it is critical for you to immediately seek legal counsel. Terrezza Law defends clients accused of drug offenses all over the greater Pensacola area, including Milton, Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze, and many other communities.
John Terrezza is a drug crimes attorney in Pensacola who represents clients in all stages of criminal cases, including assert forfeiture, appeals, and expungement. Call (850) 764-5291 right now to set up a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyer review your case.