When it comes to a drug charge in Florida, often the only difference between possession with intent to sell and standard possession is the interpretation of the evidence by the police officer or law enforcement agent who is investigating the case. The law requires, however, that officers or agents meet a certain burden of proof, and a team of Fort Lauderdale drug defense lawyers can hold them to the standard while protecting your legal rights.
When you’re facing serious drug charges, specifically possession with intent to sell, you may not be aware of how much of an impact the right representation can have on your case.
How Possession with Intent is Defined
Drug possession with intent to sell is one of those charges in which the law enforcement agent conducting the investigation determines what constitutes “intent,” and it’s the job of your attorney to show to the court that the prosecution must soundly demonstrate that intent through evidence.
In many cases, a police officer will never actually witness any transaction or attempt to deliver controlled substances; instead, they make inferences about the intentions of suspects based on what controlled substances they find and how they find them.
Packaging and Quantity Doesn’t Determine Intent
In many cases, police will determine that you possess a substance with intent to sell it based on the way that it’s packaged and the quantity you have.
The Florida drug possession penalties according to amount are:
- Possession of cannabis, less than 20 grams – 1st degree misdemeanor;
- Possession of cannabis, more than 20 grams – 3rd degree felony;
- Possession of a controlled substance – 3rd degree felony;
- Possession of more than 10 grams of heroin – 1st degree felony;
- Possession of an unlawful chemical – 2nd degree felony; and
- Possession of drug paraphernalia – 1st degree misdemeanor.
In some cases, police officers may add additional or aggravated charges with very little evidence to substantiate the inflated accusations.
For instance, in a widely publicized case, Alleyne v. State, a defendant was arrested in possession of $56 and less than 20 grams of cannabis that had been separated into a number of small Ziploc bags. Because of the way the police officer interpreted that, Alleyne was charged with possession with intent to sell cannabis, which is a felony, even though the quantity he actually possessed was less than 20 grams and would have otherwise been a misdemeanor.
Alleyne took the stand and explained to the court that the amount that had been confiscated would only last him about a day and a half due to his heavy usage of the drug, and the court lowered the charges to misdemeanor possession of cannabis, reasoning that the quantity wasn’t sufficient to demonstrate felony intent. However, the court didn’t provide any clear standard for future litigators and judges on how to determine what amount would have been considerable enough for a possession with intent charge, and no such standard has been determined in any other case.
Due to the variable nature of these laws and the serious consequences that result from a conviction, if you’re facing a drug charge in Florida for possession with intent to sell, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.