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Drug Charges

Tampa Attorney Defending Clients on Narcotics Charges

Drug Possession is a very serious matter. Will Hanlon represents people throughout the Tampa bay in all types of drug cases. A simple possession charge can have a long term impact on someone’s life and drug trafficking charges can be far worse. Many people law enforcement has a right to pull them over and search their car for any reason. This is simply not the case. Law enforcement must respect certain privacy rights before they can legally stop someone and conduct a search of their vehicle. It is critical that your lawyer understand the complex issues surrounding search and seizure to ensure every possible defense is investigated on your drug charge.

Drug Charges Carry Significant Penalties in Florida

It is very important for someone charged with a drug crime to understand the severity of the penalties in Florida. There has been a lot of discussion about decriminalizing marijuana in the Tampa Bay area. This may change but it remains a crime to possess marijuana in the State of Florida (unless you have met the special requirements necessary to possess it for medicinal purposes). Possession of marijuana (20 grams or less) is a misdemeanor that can carry a maximum of a year in the county jail and a $1,000.00 in fines. If you possess over 25 pounds of marijuana you can be charged with a trafficking in marijuana and face a minimum mandatory sentence in prison of at least 3 years. Trafficking in any drug carries with it a minimum mandatory sentence in prison. Trafficking is not determined by an actual sale of the drug. It is based solely on the amount of the drug possessed. For instance, if you are found with between 28 to 200 grams of cocaine you are also facing a first degree felony with a minimum mandatory of three years in prison. If you are found in possession of more than 200 grams but less than 400 grams of cocaine you are facing a 7 year minimum mandatory sentence in prison with a $100,000 fine. As you can see the minimum mandatory sentences vary depending on the type and amount of drug possessed.

Defending Against Drug Charges in the State of Florida

All drug cases force the Tampa drug attorney to address three different issues. First, was the initial stop of the client legal? Second, was the search subsequent to the stop legally justified? Finally, if the answer to the first two questions is yes then can the prosecution prove that the client was actually in possession of the drug? As pointed out above law enforcement must adhere to certain laws before they can search someone’s home or vehicle. Many drug cases involve police encounters that occur during a stop of someone either on foot or in their vehicle. Law enforcement cannot stop you for any reason. The police officer must have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe that you are engaged in criminal activity before you can be detained. Even if the officer’s has a legal reason to suspect that you are engaged in criminal conduct it does not mean they are entitled to search your person or your vehicle. When the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” he can briefly detain you. Only under certain circumstances can a brief detention evolve into a search and that search must be limited (even a search of a home based on a warrant must be limited to the scope of the search warrant). Answering the question of possession can be a difficult one. The prosecution can prove possession of a drug even when it is not on your person as long as it is in your immediate reach and you have knowledge of its presence and the drug’s illicit nature. The nuances in the law surrounding constructive possession are complicated. This is why it is critically important to hire an experienced criminal attorney that is very familiar with the nuances that surround drug possession charges.

Hire an Experienced Drug Crime Lawyer in Tampa

At Hanlon Law we understand the complexities of drug possession and what challenges the prosecutor faces when proving a drug charge. Will Hanlon will make every effort to force a dismissal of a drug charge when law enforcement chooses to violate your rights or conducts an illegal search of you, your car, or your home. You can call us at 813.228.7095 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.