Any type of allegation related to illicit drugs has the potential for harsh legal consequences. However, there are some charges that come with more severe penalties than others. If you are accused of a drug crime, you should understand that there are certain elements than can affect the degree and type of charges filed.
Generally speaking, charges can be elevated or tacked on based on the amount and type of drug, location of an arrest and whether or not the person arrested has a criminal history.
Drugs are classified into five different categories based on factors including the potential for abuse and whether it has an accepted medical use. A person in possession of drugs classified as Schedule I (marijuana, MDMA, heroin and cocaine) will typically face more serious charges than someone in possession of a Schedule V drug.
The amount of drugs you are accused of having will also be a factor. Smaller amounts can lead to lesser charges; if you are accused of having a large amount of drugs or cash believed to have stemmed from selling the drugs, prosecutors can pursue drug trafficking charges in addition to possession charges.
Another element that can lead to more serious charges relates to location, according to Florida drug abuse statutes. You could be facing first-degree felony charges instead of second-degree felony charges if you allegedly sold drugs to kids or on a property identified as a child care facility. This can include parks, schools and/or community centers.
Finally, first-time offenders may be assigned less severe penalties than repeat offenders upon conviction. Habitual offenders who have previously been convicted of felony offenses can be subject to harsher mandatory minimum sentences and may not be eligible for alternative sentences.
These are just a few elements that can lead to elevated charges with enhanced sentences for drug violations. In order to avoid the most serious penalties, it can be critical that you work with an attorney to challenge the charges against you to seek a reduction or dismissal. Doing so successfully can make a significant difference in terms of the penalties you could receive if convicted.