Disclaimer: Flaherty & Merrifield does not represent snitches or confidential informants. Our job is to help people; not to get other people in trouble.

Destin attracts tourists, military members, and local residents. It is no surprise that Possession of a Controlled Substance is a charge that we see on a regular basis. In Florida, controlled substance is a catch-all term that includes prescription drugs as well as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. Unfortunately, our criminal justice system is designed to punish drug abusers instead of getting them the help that they need.

Possession of ANY amount of a controlled substance, except for less than 20 grams of marijuana, is a felony offense in Destin and throughout the State of Florida.

Whether you are a tourist, military member, or local, the Destin possession of a controlled substance lawyers of Flaherty & Merrifield can help you. Give Tim or Brandy a call at (850) 460-7470 for a free case evaluation.

What are some common controlled substance cases in Destin?

Possession of Cocaine

Possession of Cocaine is a felony offense regardless of the amount. This charge is a 3rd degree felony with a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine. If this is a first offense, the more likely sentence is either probation or Pretrial Diversion. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are convicted, you will also face a 1 year suspension of your driver’s license.

If you were found to be in possession of 28 grams or more of cocaine, you face a Trafficking charge which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 3 years in prison. Trafficking in Cocaine carries a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in prison, depending on the amount.

For more information about Drug Trafficking, click here.

Possession of Heroin

Possession of Heroin is a 3rd degree felony charge that is punishable by up to 5 years in prison. If this is the first time you have been arrested for a drug charge, we may be able to get your case referred to Pretrial Diversion or get it reduced to a misdemeanor. We will also help you explore treatment options.

If you were caught with 4 grams or more of Heroin, it is possible you could be charged with Trafficking in Heroin. If you are convicted of Trafficking, you face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least 3 years, along with a $50,000.00 fine. The maximum sentence for Trafficking is between 30 years and Life.

Possession of Methamphetamine

Possession of Meth is always a felony, no matter the amount. As long as you possessed less than 14 grams, the maximum sentence is 5 years in prison. If you possessed 14 grams or more, you face a possible Trafficking in Methamphetamine charge. Trafficking in Meth carries a minimum sentence of 3 years in prison. The maximum sentence is 30 years to Life in prison.

How are controlled substances regulated in Destin?

Florida Statute 893.03 organizes and categorizes controlled substances into schedules. They base this on whether there is an accepted medical use for the substance and also its potential for abuse.

Florida Statute §893.03 Controlled Substance standards and schedules:

  • SCHEDULE I: These substances have a high potential for abuse, and no accepted medical use. Common examples of Schedule I include Marijuana, Ecstasy, Heroin, and GHB.
  • SCHEDULE II: These substances also have a high potential for abuse but they differ from Schedule I substances in that they also have some accepted medical uses. has some medical qualities. Common examples of Schedule II include Oxycodone, Opium, Hydrocodone, Cocaine, and Methamphetamine.
  • SCHEDULE III: The potential for abuse is less than Schedules I and II, but these substances are still widely abused. They can be used for different medical reasons, but can lead to psychological dependence.
  • SCHEDULE IV: These substances have a low potential for abuse, and they are often used for medical purposes. Common examples include Alprazolam (Xanax), Valium and other anxiety medications.
  • SCHEDULE V: These substances have a low potential for abuse. These substances are standard in the medical community. One example is cough syrup containing codeine.

What sentence am I facing for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Destin?

Most drug possession cases in Destin are third degree felony charges punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5000.00 fine. If the State alleges that you sold a controlled substance, you could face the more serious charge of Sale of a Controlled Substance which has a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Under Florida law, you also face a mandatory 6 month suspension of your driver’s license if you are convicted. For college students, you can also lose your federal financial aid with a drug conviction.

How can an attorney help me with a Possession charge in Destin?

Fighting a possession charge in Destin takes a specialized eye and expertise.  Knowing how the law operates, and more importantly, how to defend these charges requires digging into every possible discrepancy in the case.  Possession of a Controlled Substance cases generally come with a variety of problems.  Those problems can include the cop’s first encounter with you, violation of your constitutional rights, or faulty testing.  Many encounters that result in an arrest for possession of a controlled substance are the result of faulty police work or hunches.  Often a drug possession arrest stems from an unreliable informant, extended encounters, faulty equipment, or law enforcement’s handling of the evidence.

At Flaherty & Merrifield we have seen all these issues before and because of this, we analyze, evaluate, and prepare every case for trial.  By doing so, the prosecutors know we are better equipped for our clients and they know we are not afraid to fight for your freedom. Flaherty & Merrifield has helped people like you charged with possession of a controlled substance in Destin since 2001.

Some of the ways we have helped people in your situation are listed below:

  • Filing a Motion to Suppress: A motion to suppress is one of the most powerful tools in defending a possession of controlled substance case in Destin.  If the motion is granted, the illegal activity by the police is thrown out and can result in a dismissal of charges.  If the cops have searched your person or your car illegally, or failed to follow protocol, a motion to suppress could resolve your case favorably.
  • Pretrial Diversion: Pretrial diversion is a diversion sentence that requires monthly check-in, similar to probation, fines and costs, community service, attendance at substance abuse classes and possibility treatment.  Pretrial Diversion is a program reserved for first-time offenders.  One benefit to pretrial diversion is the treatment that can be provided.  For many clients, treatment is what they needed, rather than a criminal charge.  The other huge benefit of pretrial diversion is successful completion results in a dismissal of the charges against you.  Once the case has been dismissed, you may qualify for record expungement.
  • Withhold of Adjudication: A withhold of adjudication is a result where the court withholds a conviction from your record.  You will not have a guilty conviction, you will not lose your ability to drive, you will not lose your rights and you will not lose your ability to receive federal aid. In some cases, you will be eligible for record seal.

In addition to fighting to defend you and protect you from a felony conviction, we will also explore possible treatment options with you. In many drug cases, treatment or mitigating circumstances surrounding the arrest can alter the potential outcome.

At Flaherty & Merrifield, you are not a number, you are a person and we want to fight for you.  Remember, an arrest for possession of a controlled substance in Destin is not a conviction. Let Flaherty & Merrifield help you. Call us today for your free consultation.

Contact a Destin Drug Possession Attorney

If you or a loved one have been charged with possession of a controlled substance, or any drug offense in Destin, Florida, call Flaherty & Merrifield today at (850) 243-6097 for a free consultation.


Tim Flaherty
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Florida Criminal Defense Attorney