Disclaimer: If you are planning to work for the police as a confidential informant, call someone else. We do not represent snitches.
You don't need a sales pitch, and you don't need empty promises. If you have a drug charge in Fort Walton Beach, you already know you're in trouble. What you need is someone to give it to you straight. Someone who will give you the help you need, when you need it the most.
My name is Tim Flaherty. Since 2001, I have been defending clients accused of drug crimes throughout Okaloosa County. My partner's name is Brandy Merrifield. At Flaherty & Merrifield, our Fort Walton Beach drug charge lawyers know that a drug conviction can have life-altering effects. Contact us today and let us get to work for you.
Common Drug Charges in Fort Walton Beach
All drug charges, other than possession of marijuana under 20 grams, are felonies. The penalties and fines vary depending on the type and amount of the drug.
Drug cases are unique from other felonies. The state does not care if the possession is for personal use. If you are charged, you will face the same punishment as a serious drug dealer. The most common drug-related charges we defend are listed below.
Some states have decriminalized marijuana, and some have legalized it all together. Here in Florida, the possession and use of cannabis remains illegal without a medical-use exemption and prescription. Possession of marijuana can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount that was possessed. Less than 20 grams of smokable cannabis is a misdemeanor. Twenty grams or more of smokable cannabis, or ANY amount of THC oil, is a felony offense.
Drug Paraphernalia/Narcotics Equipment
Under Florida Statute 893.147, any item that is used, intended to be used, or designed to be used as a drug delivery device can potentially be considered drug paraphernalia. Possession or use of these items carries penalties of up to a year in jail or on probation as well as a $1,000 fine.
Possession of a Controlled Substance
Controlled substances are categorized in schedules related to the potential for abuse, along with whether the controlled substance serves any legitimate medical purpose. Under Florida law, it is illegal to possess any controlled substance without a valid prescription. Other than less than 20 grams of marijuana, all Possession of Controlled Substance cases are felony offenses. Common examples include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, Xanax, and Hydrocodone.
Depending on the drug and the amount, you could face between five and 30 years in prison if convicted of drug trafficking charges. Even if no prison time is imposed, there is the possibility of a permanent felony conviction on your record, the loss of your driver's license, and ineligibility for federal student loans and grants. With so much at stake, don't leave your future to chance.
Defending a Drug Charge in Ft. Walton Beach
Clients often ask, "How can you defend me? I had the drugs on me." To be clear, just because you were found with drugs in your possession, or in your home or car, does not mean you are guilty of drug possession. We have been defending drug cases for a long time. Over the years, we have learned that every case is different, and no case is hopeless. We will develop a customized defense strategy that will include the following:
- Thorough review of the state's evidence against you
- Review for potential motion issues such as Motion to Dismiss or Motion to Suppress
- Interview or depose witnesses and law enforcement
- View all video, audio, and visual evidence
- Negotiate with the prosecutor for a favorable result. In some situations, it is possible to negotiate for a program called Pretrial Diversion, which results in a full dismissal of all charges if completed.
Motions to Suppress Evidence
The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure. This means that the police must follow proper procedure when they detain or search someone. Once we examine the facts of your case, we will research the applicable case law to see if there is a valid basis to challenge the admissibility of the evidence that was seized in your case. If we can make a viable argument that the police violated your constitutional rights, we will file a Motion to Suppress Evidence.
The judge will schedule a hearing in court to argue the motion. Once the judge has heard both sides, they will make a ruling. If the judge grants the Motion to Suppress, that means the state cannot use the evidence against you. If that happens, the case will most likely be dismissed.
Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190, here are some of the reasons that a judge may decide to suppress evidence:
- The property was seized without a search warrant
- There was no probable cause to justify the issuance of the search warrant
- The police acted illegally when they served or executed the search warrant
Motions to Dismiss Evidence
A Motion to Dismiss pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190 (c)(4) is commonly filed in constructive possession cases. Constructive possession becomes an issue when drugs or contraband are found in an area that multiple people had access to. A common example would be a traffic stop with several people in the car.
In constructive possession cases, it is not enough for the state to allege that you were in an area where contraband was found. They must also prove that you exercised "dominion and control" over the items and that you knew of their presence.
Once we review the facts of your case, we will examine whether it makes sense to file a C-4 Motion to Dismiss. A C-4 motion means that there are no disputed facts in the case, and those facts do not give rise to sufficient evidence to sustain a criminal charge.
Other Options for Resolving a Fort Walton Beach Drug Case
One common way to resolve a first offense drug charge is through referral to a diversion program, which guarantees a full dismissal of your charges as long as you complete certain conditions. In misdemeanor cases, these programs are called Pretrial Diversion or Deferred Prosecution, whereas in felony cases, they're referred to as Pretrial Intervention. Either way, if the agreement is successfully completed, it will be guaranteed, in writing, that your case will be dismissed.
|Marijuana Possession of Less than 20 grams||893.13(6)(a)||Misdemeanor||1st||1 year jail, $1,000 fine and 6 month driver’s license suspension|
|Possession of Narcotic Equipment||893.147(1)||Misdemeanor||1st||1 year jail and $1,000 fine|
|Marijuana Possession of More than 20 grams||893.13 (1)(c)||Felony||3rd||5 years prison, $5,000 fine and 6 month driver’s license suspension|
|Possession of a Controlled Substance (other than cannabis)||893.13(6)(a)||Felony||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|Obtain Controlled Substance by Fraud||893.13(7)(a)(9)||Felony||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|Sale, Manufacture or Distribution of Cannabis||893.13(1)(a)(2)||Felony||3rd||5 years prison and $5,000 fine|
|Sale, Manufacture or Distribution of Cannabis within 1000ft of a Child Care or School||893.13(1)(c)(2)||Felony||2nd||15 years prison and $10,000 fine|
|Deliver Cannabis to a Minor||893.13(4)(b)||Felony||2nd||15 years prison and $10,000 fine|
|Purchase, Sell, Distribute Cocaine/Meth||893.13(4)(b)||Felony||2nd||15 years prison and $10,000 fine|
|Sale, Manufacture or Distribution of Cocaine/Meth within 1000ft of a University, Child Care or School||893.13(1)(d)(l) 893.13(1)(C)(1)||Felony||1st||Minimum 3 years DOC /
Maximum 30 years prison
|Trafficking Cannabis 25-200 lbs (3 years DOC)||893.13(1)(a)( l )||Felony||1st||Minimum 3 years DOC /
Maximum 30 years prison
|Trafficking Cocaine||893.13(1)(b)(l)||Felony||1st||28-200 grams minimum 3 years DOC 200-400 grams minimum 7 years DOC 400 grams-150 Kg minimum 15 years DOC Maximum for all charges 30 years prison|
|Trafficking Meth||893.135(1)(f)||Felony||1st||Minimum Penalty: 3 years DOC
Maximum for all charges: 30 years to Life in prison and $250,000 fine.
|Trafficking Opiates/Hydrocodone||893.135(1)(c)(2)(a)||Felony||1st||Minimum Penalty: 3 years DOC. All charges maximum penalty 30 years to Life in prison.|
|Trafficking MDMA||893.135(1)(k)(2)(a)||F||1st||Minimum Penalty: 3 years DOC
Maximum penalty 30 years prison
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Team of Drug Charge Defense Attorneys
Don't take on the state by yourself or with a state-funded public defender. At Flaherty & Merrifield, we devote our entire practice to criminal defense. In keeping a very targeted area of practice, we can provide knowledge and skill that only comes from years of criminal defense experience. Complete our contact form or call our Fort Walton Beach-area law office at 850-374-6273 to schedule an appointment for a free, confidential consultation.