If you face heroin possession charges in Florida, there is no sugarcoating it – your situation is serious. Possession of any amount at all, no matter how minimal, counts as a felony.
The one part of a possession case where the amount makes a difference is sentencing. Generally, the Florida penalty for possession of 10 grams or less consists of imprisonment for up to five years. If prosecutors prove possession of an amount over 10 grams, the penalty can be as much as 30 years. If the charges also include manufacturing, trafficking or intent to sell, additional harsh penalties can come into play.
When prosecutors charge you with possession, they may allege actual possession, which means the heroin was on your person, in your bag or wallet, or right next to you in a way that would indicate it clearly belongs to you.
Sometimes, the charge is based on constructive possession. This term means that the heroins was not on or near you, but prosecutors can infer your ownership of the heroin from surrounding circumstances. For example, law enforcement officers discovered heroin in a location only you could access, such as a box in your home. In such a case, prosecutors may have to prove that no one else could have accessed that location, that you actually knew the heroin was there and that you knew the substance was heroin and not something legal.
Even when your case looks grim, experienced defenders may find a way to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. Sometimes law enforcement officers obtain evidence through illegal searches, which can make any such evidence inadmissible in court. In other cases, it is not clear that the heroin did not actually belong to another person.
When you face felony charges based on allegations of heroin possession, you should consult a qualified defense attorney as soon as possible. Do not make statements to the police, sign any papers or agree to anything before your lawyer can advise you. A strong attorney can develop the appropriate strategy to fight for the best possible outcome for you.