When an individual has been charged with a drug crime, it can seem like that person's world has been turned upside down. Without knowing the laws or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, being charged with drug possession happens to people in Florida every day. However, knowing a little bit more about the law can be a powerful tool in preparing a defense.
To begin with, both state and federal laws for drug possession make it a crime for an individual to willfully possess an illegal controlled substance. Possession of a small amount of an illegal drug may be considered "simple" possession. However, an individual found to be in possession of larger amount may face a charge that presumes a clear intent to distribute it.
Prosecutors must prove -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- that the individual (the defendant) both knew the drug was a controlled substance, as well as knowingly possessed or controlled it. This could include "constructive possession," which refers to one's access to an illegal drug. To prove there was an intent to sell, prosecutors must provide appropriate evidence, often including baggies, digital scales, very large quantities of the drug in question and/or a significant amount of cash.
Both simple possession -- typically considered "personal use" -- and possession with an intent to distribute carry potentially serious penalties if convicted. In an effort to punish and deter drug dealers, the fines for drug trafficking are typically much stiffer. Nevertheless, even if an individual has been charged with drug possession, a charge is really nothing more than a formal accusation. As such, the accused individual is innocent in the eyes of the law until and unless proven otherwise. Individuals accused of such crimes in Florida typically rely upon the advice and support of experienced criminal defense attorneys.
Source: FindLaw, "Drug Possession Overview", Accessed on June 14, 2016