Possession of Drugs Defense in Tampa

Possession of Drugs Defense in Tampa

Types of Possession of Drugs Offenses in Tampa, Florida:

 

POSSESSION OF CANNABIS

In Florida, to prove the crime of Possession of Cannabis, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  1. The accused knew of the presence of the Cannabis, and
  2. The accused exercised control or ownership over the Cannabis.

There are two ways to exercise control or ownership over Cannabis:

  1. Actual Possession of Cannabis

Actual possession means the person is aware of the presence of the Cannabis and:

  1. The Cannabis is in the hand of or on the person, or
  2. The Cannabis is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or
  3. The Cannabis is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.

For example, a man that knowingly walks around with a bag of Cannabis in his pocket would have actual possession of Cannabis because he is aware of the Cannabis, the Cannabis is within his reach, and the Cannabis is under his control.

  1. Constructive possession of Cannabis

Constructive possession means the person is aware of the presence of the Cannabis, the Cannabis is in a place over which the person has control, and the person has the ability to control the Cannabis.

For example, if a man hid Cannabis in the attic of his home and then left the home, he could still be found guilty of possession of Cannabis because he is aware of the presence of the Cannabis, the Cannabis is in a place over which he has control, and the he has the ability to control the Cannabis.

What are the maximum penalties in Florida for Possession of Cannabis?
In Florida, Possession of more than 20 grams of Cannabis is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of:

  1. A prison sentence of 5 years
  2. A $5,000.00 fine
  3. 5 years of probation

In Florida, Possession of less than 20 grams of Cannabisis a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of:

  1. One year of imprisonment
  2. A $1,000.00 fine
  3. 12 months of probation

Driver’s License Suspension
Under Florida law, if a person is convicted of possession of Cannabis the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend their license for one year.

Defenses to Possession of Cannabis

  1. No Valid Consent to Search

The general rule is that a police officer must get a warrant before he can search a suspect.  However, there are exceptions to this rule.  For example, police can search a suspect if that suspect voluntarily consents to a search.  However, if the police make threats or promises to get a suspect to consent to a search, any evidence that is found as a result of that search can’t be used against the suspect in court.

  1. Miranda Rights Violations

If the police detain a suspect they must read him his Miranda rights before they ask the suspect any questions.  If police fail to do this, any statements the suspect makes will be inadmissible in court.

For example, imagine a police officer stops a car for speeding.  The only people in the car are the driver and a front seat passenger.   While the officer is speaking to the driver he sees a small bag of Cannabis on the rear floorboard.  If the officer were to detain and question the driver and passenger about the Cannabis without reading them their Miranda rights, any statements the driver and passenger might make about the Cannabis would be inadmissible in court.  Without an admission from the driver or passenger or some other evidence, the state would not be able to prove that either possessed the Cannabis.

  1. Unlawful Canine Searches

Police will sometimes stop a vehicle for a routine traffic infraction and then ask the driver if they can search the vehicle.  If the driver says no, the police will often call for a police dog to smell the outside of the vehicle in search of drugs.  If the dog alerts, the police are allowed to search the car.  However, the police may not prolong the stop for the traffic violation in order to conduct the canine search. If the officer prolongs the stop for the traffic infraction, any evidence found as a result of the search won’t be admissible in court.

  1. Unlawful Detention

Police officers can’t detain citizens just based on a hunch that the citizen is committing a crime – police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that the citizen is committing a crime before they can detain a citizen.

For example, in case of Hill v. State, Key West Police officers received an anonymous tip that a black male wearing a shirt, jeans, and nice sneakers was at a location selling drugs.  Four police officers surrounded the suspect, shined a light on him, took his driver’s license, and ran a warrants check on him.  One of the officers asked the suspect if he would empty his pockets and when the suspect did so the officers saw a bag of cocaine.  The suspect was arrested and convicted of possession of cocaine.

However, the appeals court held that the anonymous tip was not enough to give the officers reasonable suspicion that the suspect possessed cocaine, and that when the officers surrounded the suspect and took his license that the officers had detained him.  Because the detention was unlawful, the cocaine the officers found was inadmissible in court and the case was dismissed.

  1. Lack of Constructive Possession

If police discovered cannabis in a place where more than one person had access, in order to convict the State would have to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the cannabis and that he or she had control over the cannabis.

For example, imagine two people are in a car when it is stopped for speeding.  The vehicle is registered to the driver’s sister.  As the officer approaches the car, he notices several small bags of cannabis on the back seat floor.  As long as neither the driver nor the passenger admits knowledge of the cannabis, neither could be convicted of possession of cannabis because the State would be unable to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the cannabis.

 

POSSESSION OF COCAINE

In Florida, to prove the crime of Possession of Cocaine, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  1. The accused knew of the presence of the cocaine, and
  2. The accused exercised control or ownership over the cocaine.

There are two ways to exercise control or ownership over cocaine:

  1. Actual Possession of Cocaine

Actual possession means the person is aware of the presence of the cocaine and:

  1. The cocaine is in the hand of or on the person, or
  2. The cocaine is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or
  3. The cocaine is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.

For example, a man that knowingly walks around with a bag of cocaine in his pocket would have actual possession of cocaine because he is aware of the cocaine, the cocaine is within his reach, and the cocaine is under his control.

  1. Constructive possession of Cocaine

Constructive possession means the person is aware of the presence of the cocaine, the cocaine is in a place over which the person has control and the person has the ability to control the cocaine.

For example, if a man hid cocaine in the attic of his home and then left the home, he could still be found guilty of possession of cocaine because he is aware of the presence of the cocaine, the cocaine is in a place over which he has control, and he has the ability to control the cocaine.

What are the maximum penalties in Florida for Possession of Cocaine?
In Florida, Possession of Cocaine is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of:

  1. A prison sentence of 5 years
  2. A $5,000.00 fine
  3. 5 years of probation

Driver’s License Suspension
Under Florida law, if a person is convicted of possession of cocaine the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend their license for one year.

Defenses to Possession of Cocaine

  1. No Valid Consent to Search

The general rule is that a police officer must get a warrant before he can search a suspect.  However, there are exceptions to this rule.  For example, police can search a suspect if that suspect voluntarily consents to a search.  However, if the police make threats or promises to get a suspect to consent to a search, any evidence that is found as a result of that search can’t be used against the suspect in court.

  1. Miranda Rights Violations

If the police detain a suspect they must read him his Miranda rights before they ask the suspect any questions.  If police fail to do this, any statements the suspect makes will be inadmissible in court.

For example, imagine a police officer stops a car for speeding.  The only people in the car are the driver and a front seat passenger.   While the officer is speaking to the driver he sees a small bag of cocaine on the rear floorboard.  If the officer were to detain and question the driver and passenger about the cocaine without reading them their Miranda rights, any statements the driver and passenger might make about the cocaine would be inadmissible in court.  Without an admission from the driver or passenger or some other evidence, the state would not be able to prove that either possessed the cocaine.

  1. Unlawful Canine Searches

Police will sometimes stop a vehicle for a routine traffic infraction and then ask the driver if they can search the vehicle.  If the driver says no, the police will often call for a police dog to smell the outside of the vehicle in search of drugs.  If the dog alerts, the police are allowed to search the car.  However, the police may not prolong the stop for the traffic violation in order to conduct the canine search. If the officer prolongs the stop for the traffic infraction, any evidence found as a result of the search won’t be admissible in court.

  1. Unlawful Detention

Police officers can’t detain citizens just based on a hunch that the citizen is committing a crime–police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that the citizen is committing a crime before they can detain a citizen.

For example, in case of Hill v. State, Key West Police officers received an anonymous tip that a black male wearing a shirt, jeans, and nice sneakers was at a location selling drugs.  Four police officers surrounded the suspect, shined a light on him, took his driver’s license, and ran a warrants check on him.  One of the officers asked the suspect if he would empty his pockets and when the suspect did so the officers saw a bag of cocaine.  The suspect was arrested and convicted of possession of cocaine.

However, the appeals court held that the anonymous tip was not enough to give the officers reasonable suspicion that the suspect possessed cocaine, and that when the officers surrounded the suspect and took his license that the officers had detained him.  Because the detention was unlawful, the cocaine the officers found was inadmissible in court and the case was dismissed.

  1. Lack of Constructive Possession

If police discovered cocaine in a place where more than one person had access, in order to convict the State would have to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the cocaine and that he or she had control over the cocaine. For example, imagine two people are in a car when it is stopped for speeding. The vehicle is registered to the driver’s sister. As the officer approaches the car, he notices a small bag of cocaine on the back seat floor. As long as neither the driver nor the passenger admits knowledge of the cocaine, neither could be convicted of possession of cannabis because the State would be unable to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the cocaine.

 

POSSESSION OF HYDROCODONE

In Florida, to prove the crime of Possession of Hydrocodone, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  1. The accused knew of the presence of the Hydrocodone, and
  2. The accused exercised control or ownership over the Hydrocodone.

There are two ways to exercise control or ownership over Hydrocodone:

  1. Actual Possession of Hydrocodone

Actual possession means the person is aware of the presence of the Hydrocodone and:

  1. The Hydrocodone is in the hand of or on the person, or
  2. The Hydrocodone is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or
  3. The Hydrocodone is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.

For example, a man that knowingly walks around with a bag of Hydrocodone in his pocket would have actual possession of Hydrocodone because he is aware of the Hydrocodone, the Hydrocodone is within his reach, and the Hydrocodone is under his control.

  1. Constructive possession of Hydrocodone

Constructive possession means the person is aware of the presence of the Hydrocodone, the Hydrocodone is in a place over which the person has control and the person has the ability to control the Hydrocodone.

For example, if a man hid Hydrocodone in the attic of his home and then left the home, he could still be found guilty of possession of Hydrocodone because he is aware of the presence of the Hydrocodone, the Hydrocodone is in a place over which he has control, and then he has the ability to control the Hydrocodone.

What are the maximum penalties in Florida for Possession of Hydrocodone?
In Florida, Possession of Hydrocodone is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of:

  1. A prison sentence of 5 years
  2. A $5,000.00 fine
  3. 5 years of probation

Driver’s License Suspension
Under Florida law, if a person is convicted of possession of Hydrocodone the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend their license for one year.

Defenses to Possession of Hydrocodone

  1. Prescription

A person may possess Hydrocodone if the Hydrocodone was lawfully obtained from a medical practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription.

  1. No Valid Consent to Search

The general rule is that a police officer must get a warrant before he can search a suspect.  However, there are exceptions to this rule.  For example, police can search a suspect if that suspect voluntarily consents to a search.  However, if the police make threats or promises to get a suspect to consent to a search, any evidence that is found as a result of that search can’t be used against the suspect in court.

  1. Miranda Rights Violations

If the police detain a suspect they must read him his Miranda rights before they ask the suspect any questions.  If police fail to do this, any statements the suspect makes will be inadmissible in court.

For example, imagine a police officer stops a car for speeding.  The only people in the car are the driver and a front seat passenger.   While the officer is speaking to the driver he sees a small bag of Hydrocodone on the rear floorboard.  If the officer were to detain and question the driver and passenger about the Hydrocodone without reading them their Miranda rights, any statements the driver and passenger might make about the Hydrocodone would be inadmissible in court.  Without an admission from the driver or passenger or some other evidence, the state would not be able to prove that either possessed the Hydrocodone.

  1. Unlawful Detention

Police officers can’t detain citizens just based on a hunch that the citizen is committing a crime – police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that the citizen is committing a crime before they can detain a citizen.

For example, in case of Hill v. State, Key West Police officers received an anonymous tip that a black male wearing a shirt, jeans, and nice sneakers was at a location selling drugs.  Four police officers surrounded the suspect, shined a light on him, took his driver’s license, and ran a warrants check on him.  One of the officers asked the suspect if he would empty his pockets and when the suspect did so the officers saw a bag of cocaine.  The suspect was arrested and convicted of possession of cocaine.

However, the appeals court held that the anonymous tip was not enough to give the officers reasonable suspicion that the suspect possessed cocaine, and that when the officers surrounded the suspect and took his license that the officers had detained him.  Because the detention was unlawful, the cocaine the officers found was inadmissible in court and the case was dismissed.

  1. Lack of Constructive Possession

If police discovered hydrocodone in a place where more than one person had access, in order to convict the State would have to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the hydrocodone and that he or she had control over the hydrocodone. For example, imagine two people are in a car when it is stopped for speeding. The vehicle is registered to the driver’s sister. As the officer approaches the car, he notices a small bag of hydrocodone pills on the back seat floor. As long as neither the driver nor the passenger admits knowledge of the hydrocodone pills, neither could be convicted of possession of hydrocodone because the State would be unable to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the hydrocodone.

 

POSSESSION OF OXYCODONE

In Florida, to prove the crime of Possession of Oxycodone, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  1. The accused knew of the presence of the Oxycodone, and
  2. The accused exercised control or ownership over the Oxycodone.

There are two ways to exercise control or ownership over Oxycodone:

  1. Actual Possession of Oxycodone

Actual possession means the person is aware of the presence of the Oxycodone and:

  1. The Oxycodone is in the hand of or on the person, or
  2. The Oxycodone is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or
  3. The Oxycodone is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.

For example, a man that knowingly walks around with a bag of Oxycodone in his pocket would have actual possession of Oxycodone because he is aware of the Oxycodone, the Oxycodone is within his reach, and the Oxycodone is under his control.

  1. Constructive possession of Oxycodone

Constructive possession means the person is aware of the presence of the Oxycodone, the Oxycodone is in a place over which the person has control and the person has the ability to control the Oxycodone.

For example, if a man hid Oxycodone in the attic of his home and then left the home, he could still be found guilty of possession of Oxycodone because he is aware of the presence of the Oxycodone, the Oxycodone is in a place over which he has control, and then he has the ability to control the Oxycodone.

What are the maximum penalties in Florida for Possession of Oxycodone?
In Florida, Possession of Oxycodone is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of:

  1. A prison sentence of 5 years
  2. A $5,000.00 fine
  3. 5 years of probation

Driver’s License Suspension
Under Florida law, if a person is convicted of possession of Oxycodone the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend their license for one year.

Defenses to Possession of Oxycodone

  1. Prescription

A person may possess Oxycodone if the Oxycodone was lawfully obtained from a medical practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription.

  1. No Valid Consent to Search

The general rule is that a police officer must get a warrant before he can search a suspect.  However, there are exceptions to this rule.  For example, police can search a suspect if that suspect voluntarily consents to a search.  However, if the police make threats or promises to get a suspect to consent to a search, any evidence that is found as a result of that search can’t be used against the suspect in court.

  1. Miranda Rights Violations

If the police detain a suspect they must read him his Miranda rights before they ask the suspect any questions.  If police fail to do this, any statements the suspect makes will be inadmissible in court.

For example, imagine a police officer stops a car for speeding.  The only people in the car are the driver and a front seat passenger.   While the officer is speaking to the driver he sees a small bag of Oxycodone on the rear floorboard.  If the officer were to detain and question the driver and passenger about the Oxycodone without reading them their Miranda rights, any statements the driver and passenger might make about the Oxycodone would be inadmissible in court.  Without an admission from the driver or passenger or some other evidence, the state would not be able to prove that either possessed the Oxycodone.

  1. Unlawful Detention

Police officers can’t detain citizens just based on a hunch that the citizen is committing a crime – police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that the citizen is committing a crime before they can detain a citizen.

For example, in case of Hill v. State, Key West Police officers received an anonymous tip that a black male wearing a shirt, jeans, and nice sneakers was at a location selling drugs.  Four police officers surrounded the suspect, shined a light on him, took his driver’s license, and ran a warrants check on him.  One of the officers asked the suspect if he would empty his pockets and when the suspect did so the officers saw a bag of cocaine.  The suspect was arrested and convicted of possession of cocaine.

However, the appeals court held that the anonymous tip was not enough to give the officers reasonable suspicion that the suspect possessed cocaine, and that when the officers surrounded the suspect and took his license that the officers had detained him.  Because the detention was unlawful, the cocaine the officers found was inadmissible in court and the case was dismissed.

  1. Lack of Constructive Possession

If police discovered oxycodone in a place where more than one person had access, in order to convict the State would have to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the oxycodone and that he or she had control over the oxycodone.For example, imagine two people are in a car when it is stopped for speeding. The vehicle is registered to the driver’s sister. As the officer approaches the car, he notices a small bag of oxycodone pills on the back seat floor. As long as neither the driver nor the passenger admits knowledge of the oxycodone pills, neither could be convicted of possession of oxycodone because the State would be unable to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the oxycodone.

 

POSSESSION OF XANAX

In Florida, to prove the crime of Possession of Xanax, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  1. The accused knew of the presence of the Xanax, and
  2. The accused exercised control or ownership over the Xanax.

There are two ways to exercise control or ownership over Xanax:

  1. Actual Possession of Xanax

Actual possession means the person is aware of the presence of the Xanax and:

  1. The Xanax is in the hand of or on the person, or
  2. The Xanax is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or
  3. The Xanax is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.

For example, a man that knowingly walks around with a bag of Xanax in his pocket would have actual possession of Xanax because he is aware of the Xanax, the Xanax is within his reach, and the Xanax is under his control.

  1. Constructive possession of Xanax

Constructive possession means the person is aware of the presence of the Xanax, the Xanax is in a place over which the person has control and the person has the ability to control the Xanax.

For example, if a man hid Xanax in the attic of his home and then left the home, he could still be found guilty of possession of Xanax because he is aware of the presence of the Xanax, the Xanax is in a place over which he has control, and then he has the ability to control the Xanax.

What are the maximum penalties in Florida for Possession of Xanax?
In Florida, Possession of Xanax is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of:

  1. A prison sentence of 5 years
  2. A $5,000.00 fine
  3. 5 years of probation

Driver’s License Suspension
Under Florida law, if a person is convicted of possession of Xanax the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend their license for one year.

Defenses to Possession of Xanax

  1. Prescription

A person may possess Xanax if the Xanax was lawfully obtained from a medical practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription.

  1. No Valid Consent to Search

The general rule is that a police officer must get a warrant before he can search a suspect.  However, there are exceptions to this rule.  For example, police can search a suspect if that suspect voluntarily consents to a search.  However, if the police make threats or promises to get a suspect to consent to a search, any evidence that is found as a result of that search can’t be used against the suspect in court.

  1. Miranda Rights Violations

If the police detain a suspect they must read him his Miranda rights before they ask the suspect any questions.  If police fail to do this, any statements the suspect makes will be inadmissible in court.

For example, imagine a police officer stops a car for speeding.  The only people in the car are the driver and a front seat passenger.   While the officer is speaking to the driver he sees a small bag of Xanax on the rear floorboard.  If the officer were to detain and question the driver and passenger about the Xanax without reading them their Miranda rights, any statements the driver and passenger might make about the Xanax would be inadmissible in court.  Without an admission from the driver or passenger or some other evidence, the state would not be able to prove that either possessed the Xanax.

  1. Unlawful Detention

Police officers can’t detain citizens just based on a hunch that the citizen is committing a crime – police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that the citizen is committing a crime before they can detain a citizen.

For example, in case of Hill v. State, Key West Police officers received an anonymous tip that a black male wearing a shirt, jeans, and nice sneakers was at a location selling drugs.  Four police officers surrounded the suspect, shined a light on him, took his driver’s license, and ran a warrants check on him.  One of the officers asked the suspect if he would empty his pockets and when the suspect did so the officers saw a bag of cocaine.  The suspect was arrested and convicted of possession of cocaine.

However, the appeals court held that the anonymous tip was not enough to give the officers reasonable suspicion that the suspect possessed cocaine, and that when the officers surrounded the suspect and took his license that the officers had detained him.  Because the detention was unlawful, the cocaine the officers found was inadmissible in court and the case was dismissed.

  1. Lack of Constructive Possession

If police discovered Xanax in a place where more than one person had access, in order to convict the State would have to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the Xanax and that he or she had control over the Xanax.For example, imagine two people are in a car when it is stopped for speeding. The vehicle is registered to the driver’s sister. As the officer approaches the car, he notices a small bag of Xanax pills on the back seat floor. As long as neither the driver nor the passenger admits knowledge of the Xanax pills, neither could be convicted of possession of Xanax because the State would be unable to prove that the defendant knew about the presence of the Xanax.

Are you looking for the best Possession of Drugs Defense lawyer in Tampa Florida? Contact Attorney David C. Hardy.

Tampa Attorney David C. Hardy is a former prosecutor that now represents persons accused of Possession of Drugs.  He is Board Certified by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has extensive experience handling all types of Possession of Drugs cases.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for Possession of Drugs in Hillsborough County Florida, Pinellas County Florida, or Pasco County Florida, Attorney David C. Hardy has the knowledge, skills, and experience to guide you through this process and obtain the best possible results.