Possession of a Controlled Substance

Drug possession offenses account for a significant number of annual arrests in Florida. While they are often referred to as "simple possession" cases, the truth is that criminal charges for possession of a controlled substance can be very complex and may even result in felony charges. 

Many people assume that these kinds of arrests are limited only to offenders who allegedly possess more commonly known illegal street drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, or methamphetamine. Both state law and federal law, however, classify several prescription medications as controlled substances and alleged offenders can face equally serious criminal charges for allegedly possessing such drugs without valid prescriptions.

Attorney for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pensacola, FL

Were you recently arrested for alleged drug possession anywhere in Escambia County? Speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney before talking to the Escambia or Santa Rosa County Police is crucial.

James M. Burns is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Pensacola who aggressively defends clients accused of all kinds of drug offenses in Pace, Perdido Key, Pensacola, Navarre, Milton, and Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

Our attorney can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (850) 457-6002 to set up a free initial consultation.


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Overview of Possession of a Controlled Substance in Escambia County


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Types of Drug Possession in Pensacola

Under Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(a), it is unlawful for a person to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance unless such controlled substance was lawfully obtained from a practitioner or obtained pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice or to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance except as otherwise authorized by Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes. Violations of Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(a) are third-degree felony offenses. 

Actual possession is defined in Chapter 25.7 of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions as meaning the alleged offender was aware of the presence of the controlled substance and:

  • The controlled substance was in the hand of or on the alleged offender;

 

  • The controlled substance was in a container in the hand of or on the alleged offender; or

 

  • The controlled substance was so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the alleged offender.

Constructive possession is defined as meaning an alleged offender was aware of the presence of the controlled substance, the controlled substance was in a place over which the alleged offender has control, and the alleged offender had the ability to control the controlled substance. 

A prosecutor must prove that an alleged offender knew that the substance was in his or her presence and exercised control or ownership over the substance itself, but proximity to a controlled substance is not sufficient to establish the power and intention to control that substance when the substance is in a place that the person does not control. 

Certain controlled substances can result in different criminal charges. Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(b) while possession of a controlled substance named or described in Florida Statute § 893.03(5) (a Schedule V controlled substance) is a second-degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(d).


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Possession of a Controlled Substance Penalties in Escambia County

Simple possession charges in Florida usually involve minimal amounts of illegal drugs. If an alleged offender possesses excess amounts of a controlled substance, it may lead to more serious criminal charges such as possession with intent to sell or drug trafficking.

Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(c) makes it a first-degree felony for an alleged offender to possess more than ten (10) grams of any substance named or described in Florida Statute § 893.03(1)(a) or (1)(b), or any combination thereof, or any mixture containing any such substance. Alleged offenders will also be charged with drug trafficking instead of simple possession if they possess:

  • More than 25 pounds of cannabis; 
  • 28 grams or more of cocaine;
  • Four (4) grams or more of any morphine, opium, hydromorphone, or any salt, derivative, isomer, or salt of an isomer thereof, including heroin, or four (4) grams or more of any mixture containing any such substance; 
  • 28 grams or more of phencyclidine or of any mixture containing phencyclidine (PCP or angel dust); 
  • 200 grams or more of methaqualone or of any mixture containing methaqualone;
  • 14 grams or more of amphetamine, methamphetamine, or of any mixture containing amphetamine or methamphetamine, or phenylacetone, phenylacetic acid, pseudoephedrine, or ephedrine in conjunction with other chemicals and equipment utilized in the manufacture of amphetamine or methamphetamine; 
  • Four (4) grams or more of flunitrazepam or any mixture containing flunitrazepam (Rohypnol or “roofies”);
  • One (1) kilogram or more of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) or any mixture containing GHB;
  • One (1) kilogram or more of gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) or any mixture containing GBL;
  • One (1) kilogram or more of 1,4-Butanediol or of any mixture containing 1,4-Butanediol; or 
  • Ten (10) grams or more of 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Molly, or ecstasy) or any of the other controlled substances listed under Florida Statute § 893.135(1)(k).

Florida Statute § 322.055 establishes that a person convicted of possession of any controlled substance will have his or driver’s license revoked for one year. Simple possession offenses usually carry the following possible sentences:

  • Second-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500; 
  • First-Degree Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000;
  • Third-Degree Felony — Up to five (5) years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000; and 
  • First-Degree Felony — Up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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Possession of a Controlled Substance Resources in Escambia County 

Escambia County Sherriff’s Office Crime Map – The Escambia County Sherriff’s Office, particularly the Narcotics Unit is tasked with locating, identifying, and targeting those who possess and distribute illegal substances throughout Escambia County. Find information to submit a tip and navigate the Sherriff’s office website to learn more about how they deal with reported drug crimes. 

Project P.R.I.D.E. |— Project P.R.I.D.E. identifies itself as "a national drug prevention program designed to reduce the early first use of drugs in school children." The program uses a curriculum based on J. Davis Hawkins social development mode and emphasizes bonding to family, school, and peers as protection against the development of conduct problems such as drug use and association with drug-using peers. 


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The Law Office of James M. Burns | Pensacola Possession of a Controlled Substance Defense Lawyer

If you were arrested anywhere in the Florida Panhandle for drug possession or any other drug crime, it will be in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. The Law Office of James M. Burns defends individuals in several communities in and around Escambia County, such as Perdido Key and Pensacola, and in Santa Rosa County in places like Milton, Pace, and Navarre. We also serve Fort Walton Beach in Okaloosa County.

Call (850) 457-6002 or fill out an online contact form to have our lawyer review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.