In Florida, possessing any amount of cocaine – even a bag of residue – is considered a Third Degree Felony. A conviction could come with up to five years in prison, five years’ probation and a $5,000 fine.
Pursuant to Florida Statute 322.055, if you are convicted of possession of cocaine, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will suspend your license or revoke your driving privilege for up to one year.
The consequences of a drug possession conviction can affect your relationships, career and personal freedoms. If you were arrested for possession of cocaine, it is critical that you contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Michael D. Leader is a criminal attorney in Fort Lauderdale who will evaluate your case in a free consultation. Depending on the nature of your charges and the facts surrounding your arrest, there may be a defense strategy that convinces the court to reduce the charges or penalties, or to dismiss your case altogether. Call 954-523-2020 to schedule a consultation with Leader & Leader P.A. so you know you have spoken with an experienced criminal defense lawyer!
3 Possible Defenses against Possession of Cocaine Charges
As with any other criminal charge, there are several pretrial defenses that may apply to your case. For example, your criminal attorney may file a Motion to Suppress evidence if a police officer acquired evidence against you through an illegal search or seizure. This could significantly weaken the prosecuting authority’s case if not completely prevent them from being able to move forward with charges against you.
Other possible defenses include:
- You Were Overdosing or Helping Someone Who Needed Medical Assistance
Florida police cannot charge you with possession of cocaine if you were overdosing and needed medical assistance, or if you were helping someone who needed medical assistance. In order for this defense to work, your criminal attorney will have to prove that the evidence against you was obtained due to the overdose and the need for medical attention. You would be shocked how many criminal defense attorneys that seemingly do not even know that this is a viable and absolute defense in certain cases.
- Constructive Possession Defense
Sometimes police find cocaine in a location where multiple people had access to it. In these instances, the prosecuting authority would have to prove two elements to convict you:
- You knew that the cocaine was present; and
- You had control and dominion over the cocaine.
In many cases in which neither individual acknowledges the drug and/or fails to accept ownership, the State may not be able to prove the charges and a qualified criminal defense lawyer may be able to get your charges completely thrown out and/or dropped!
- Temporary Possession Defense
Your criminal defense lawyer may use this defense if you were only in transitory, temporary or momentary possession of cocaine without exercising dominions and control. Your attorney will have to prove that you did not have complete control and dominion over the cocaine and, therefore, were not in legal possession of the cocaine. If there is evidence from which a jury could conclude that a defendant possessed the cocaine (or any drug) temporarily for the sole purpose of testing it and never had dominion or control, the defense may apply. For example, in one case, when the police officer was asked by defense counsel during cross-examination, “Was there ever a time when the [defendant] could have physically left the area with the cocaine?” the officer answered “After he paid us the money, yes.” making it clear from his testimony that the defendant was arrested before any money passed hands and/or before he had the ability to take control and leave with it. See Campbell v. State, 577 So. 2d 932 (Fla. 1991).
Generally not with cocaine cases but in some drug charges, medical necessity may also be a viable defense. “The pressure of natural physical forces sometimes confronts a person in an emergency with a choice of two evils: either he may violate the literal terms of the criminal law and thus produce a harmful result, or he may comply with those terms and thus produce a greater or equal or lesser amount of harm. For reasons of social policy, if the harm which will result from compliance with the law is greater than that which will result from violation of it, he is by virtue of the defense of necessity justified in violating it.” W.R. LaFave & A.W. Scott, Jr., 1 Substantive Criminal Law § 5.4, at 627 (1986)
If Florida police charged you with possession of cocaine, or any unlawful substance, contact Leader & Leader P.A. Michael D. Leader will gather evidence, investigate your arrest, and structure a comprehensive defense based on the unique facts of your case. Call 954-523-2020 to schedule a free initial consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.