America and the State of Florida, is waging a war on drugs by attempting to deter drug use with the threat and imposition of more severe penalties. Evident by the jail population, drug crime arrests, and convictions, drugs are the leading cause of incarceration in Florida’s jails and prisons. Drug charges range from possession of paraphernalia (drug equipment) to possession or distribution of a controlled substance, to trafficking in narcotics. A drug charge could be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the drug, the amount, and other circumstances. Some courts have successfully reduced the demand for illegal drugs by treating and training offenders. Our office focuses on counseling and obtaining treatment for those struggling with drug problems as well as on defending those charged with the crime. As a result our office has developed relationships with many if not most, of the treatment professionals and organizations as an alternative to prosecution, in those courts that permit diversion programming.
Many drug charges begin with a stop for a traffic infraction (such as speeding) and subsequent to the stop, the officer searches the car and finds drugs. One of the most important legal distinctions when charged with a drug crime is the difference between actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is when drugs are found on your person or in your actual custody and control, i.e., in your shoe, wallet, or back pocket. Constructive possession, on the other hand, is when the drugs are found in a place over which you may have control or share control with others, such as, in a car or home. To prove constructive possession, the State Attorney must prove (1) that you had control over the drugs and (2) had knowledge of the drugs.
The consequences of a drug conviction can be serious and life changing. For example, a conviction of a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge will automatically impose a 2 year driver’s license suspension. A conviction of a felony drug crime will mean you are a convicted felon and you will lose the right to vote and bear arms and there may be restrictions on your travel. Immigrants to the United States may be subject to removal, deportation, inadmissibility, and denial of citizenship. Some Judicial Circuits have programs that may help avoid some of the serious consequences and stigmas associated with such convictions, as well as obtain the treatment needed to break the grip of addiction.
Mr. Kennedy has represented persons charged with these types of crimes for 20 years; please allow us to explain during a free consultation how we can help you make the difficult decisions about how best to resolve your charges and / or seek the therapeutic program you need.