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Possession of Controlled Substances

People are limited in the types, quantities, and context in which they can have certain chemical substances.

First, controlled substances are chemical substances that are restricted in some way, and each individual substance will be listed explicitly in Florida statutory law. These restricted chemical substances include organic plants, mushrooms, and synthetic, lab-created compounds. The State of Florida controls many different chemical substances, from those as simple as derivatives of the common cannabis plant to exotic sounding, lab-synthesized compounds like “alpha-methylfentanyl (N-[1-(alpha-methyl-betaphenyl) ethyl-4-piperidyl] propionanilide; 1-(1-methyl-2-phenylethyl)-4-(N-propanilido) piperidine).”

Second, the law prohibits both actual and constructive possession of controlled substances. A comparative example is the easiest way to explain the difference between actual possession and constructive possession. If someone is holding a laptop while walking from their kitchen to their private home office, they are in actual possession of their laptop at that time. This is the intuitive sense of possession—the person is holding and directly touching the laptop and can control it at any time.

Constructive possession, however, would occur when that same person sets their laptop down in their regular private office and walks away briefly to use the restroom. While the person and the laptop are no longer touching or even in the same room, the laptop is located in the person’s private office, where only that person exercises dominion and control over the office space, so they are said to be in constructive possession. In the real world, constructive possession is often an issue with controlled substances in motor vehicles.

Notably, it is lawful to possess controlled substances in the context of medical treatment. A medical practitioner authorized to create valid prescriptions may prescribe controlled substances, and a patient does not violate Florida law by possessing such medication. Additionally, the Florida legislature created a blanket carve-out for the lawful possession of controlled substances, which are possessed according to the provisions of other portions of the laws of Florida. For example, police officers and pharmacists may lawfully possess controlled substances when performing their official duties. These types of exceptions serve to avoid creating unwanted results that impede the public good.

Florida Possession of Controlled Substances Lawyer

If you’ve been charged with possession of controlled substances in Florida, it’s important to get in touch with a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Founder attorney Ashley Aulls at The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. has over 20 years of experience in criminal law and can advise you on your rights and the potential consequences of the charges against you.

The sooner you get into contact, the better chance you will have at achieving a more favorable case outcome. To schedule a free consultation, call (352) 593-4115 today.

The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. accepts drug cases in Spring Hill, Brooksville, North Weeki Wachee, Homosassa Springs, Floral City, Wildwood, Lake Panasoffkee, and the surrounding areas in Hernando, Citrus, or Sumter County.


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Penalties For Possession Of A Controlled Substance

Possession of controlled substances has a complex system of penalties based on the classification, or schedule, that the chemical substance is listed under in state law and the quantity (measured in grams) of the possessed substance. Generally, a violation of the controlled substance possession statute is a third-degree felony punishable by five years in prison or a $5,000 fine.

But the charges are increased to a first-degree felony when the individual possesses over ten grams of certain controlled substances listed in the statutes. The penalties for a felony in the first degree go up significantly—up to thirty years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000. On the other hand, possession of twenty grams or less of cannabis is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and one year or less of incarceration. However, for possession of a substance listed on the lowest level of the five statutory schedules, the accused will be charged with a misdemeanor in the second degree and faces sixty days in jail and a $500 maximum fine.


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Statute of Limitations In Controlled Substance Possession Cases

Prosecutors in Florida only have a limited amount of time from the date of the offense to file criminal charges. These limits vary based on the type of crime charged. Because the penalties vary based on the level of charges brought, the statute of limitations for possession of controlled substances will also vary based on the type of controlled substance and its weight. Therefore, for possession of a controlled substance that constitutes a first-degree felony, charges must be brought within four years. Third-degree felony possession of controlled substances must be charged-out within three years. Any first-degree misdemeanor charges must be brought within two years. Finally, second-degree misdemeanor charges must be prosecuted within one year of the date of the offense.


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Defenses In Possession Cases

The government must prove that the chemical substance possessed by the defendant was actually a controlled substance. Before the modern era, this was difficult and required significant labor and chemical testing by scientists. However, because chemical testing has become cheaper and easier for the government to obtain, given increases in technology, the primary defense in most situations to possession of controlled substances will involve challenging the possession requirement. This is more effective when combatting charges alleging constructive possession instead of actual possession of controlled substances. Additionally, depending on the level of crime that the state charges, a defendant could challenge the weight element of the charges to prove innocence on an enhanced charge level.


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Additional Resources

Narcotics Anonymous Florida Region – If you are or believe you might be addicted to controlled substances, Narcotics Anonymous Florida Region serves the people of Florida by providing regular group meetings, both in person and virtually, and other addiction resources.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – The federal government has an online behavioral health treatment services locator tool to help locate treatment facilities available by city, zip code, and address. This is a federal service, and the information entered into this tool is secure and anonymous.


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Brooksville Possession of Controlled Substances Attorney | Hernando County, FL

If you have been charged with possession of controlled substances, you could be facing harsh penalties, which may threaten your freedom and every aspect of your future. To secure the legal counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, contact The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A.. Founder attorney Ashley Aulls may be able to help you avoid any loss to your freedom arising from a drug possession conviction.

The Law Office of Ashley Aulls, P.A. serves clients all over Pasco County, Sumter County, Citrus County, and Hernando County. To schedule a free consultation, call (352) 593-4115 right now.


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