Individuals who are found to be in possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute in Florida will likely be charged with a crime. The exact charge that a person may face depends on the substance, the amount that a person intended to sell, and his or her prior record. In many cases, drug possession on its own is a misdemeanor. However, possession with the intent to distribute is generally treated as a felony.
A defendant could be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines depending on the circumstances in a given case. For instance, if a person sold a controlled substance near a school, he or she could face enhanced penalties if convicted. Penalties may also be enhanced if an individual is found to be in possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance. Penalties could include a lifetime ban on owning a weapon or having to disclose the conviction when applying for a job.
Minimum sentencing guidelines may differ depending on whether a person faces a state or federal charge. Federal charges are typically handed down when the sale takes place on a military base or if a sale involved controlled substances that crossed state lines. In a federal case, a conviction could result in years in prison and a substantial fine.
Those who are charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin or other drugs may face significant penalties if convicted. An attorney may help to get a charge reduced or dismissed. This may be done by asserting that an individual did not intend to possess or sell a controlled substance. Legal counsel may also assert that the police compelled a person to commit an illegal act against his or her will.