Maintaining a Dwelling for the Purpose of Drug Use is Punishable by Prison Time and Fines

Florida drug laws criminalize a number of activities that fall outside of the scope of possession or manufacturing of a controlled substance. Included in the state’s expansive anti-drug measures are laws that ban maintaining a dwelling – such as a house or apartment – for the purpose of using, selling or storing controlled substances like marijuana and cocaine. The penalties for maintaining a dwelling can include prison time and fines.

What are the penalties for maintaining a dwelling? 

Maintaining a dwelling is a third-degree felony. A person convicted of a third-degree felony in Florida may face drug crime penalties that include: 

  • imprisonment for as much as five years; and
  • a fine of $5,000.

Those considered to “habitual offenders” may face more severe punishments, such as additional prison time and increased fines. A habitual offender is someone previously convicted on similar charges.

Note that these are the state’s prescribed punishments. Drug cases also may fall under federal jurisdiction, which may result in additional or varying penalties.

The Definition of “Maintaining a Dwelling”

Florida drug laws ban the maintenance of a dwelling used by people for the purpose of using illicit controlled substances, or to store, sell or deliver such items. Essentially, this means it is illegal to own, rent or otherwise keep a dwelling that functions as a so-called “drug house.”

Locations that fall under the broad definition of “dwelling” include

  • stores and shops;
  • warehouses;
  • houses; and
  • buildings.

The law also includes a variety of vehicles – cars, ships, boats, vessels and aircraft – in the definition of “dwelling.” Dwellings suspected of being used in drug-related activities are considered a public nuisance. Anyone suspected of even helping to maintain the “public nuisance” dwelling may be charged with a drug crime.

Drug crime penalties in Florida can be harsh and often result in prison time. If you’ve been charged with a drug offense, contact an attorney to help in your defense. Call (877) 663-5110.