Sale of Controlled Substances


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
helps people defend against Sale of Controlled Substance accusations

The sale of controlled substances is treated extremely harshly in Florida.  This offense is broadly defined in and includes much more than dealing in controlled substances.  A person convicted under this statute will often face prison and the prospect of becoming a convicted felon.  If you, or a loved one, has been charged with Sale of Controlled Substances, including, cocaine, heroin, prescription pills, marijuana, and any other controlled substance, contact the experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys of SLG Law today to discuss the case.  

What is Sale of Controlled Substances?

Sale of Controlled Substances is defined in Florida Statute 893.13(1)(a) and (2)(a).  It is more broadly defined that simply the sale of controlled substances.  In order to prove you guilty of sale of controlled substances, the State must prove:


1.   You sold, purchased, manufactured, delivered, possessed with intent to sell, possessed with intent to purchase, possessed with intent to manufacture, or possessed with intent to deliver a certain substance.

2.   The substance was (a specific controlled substance),

3.   You had knowledge of the presence of the substance. 



What is Actual Possession, Constructive Possession & Joint Possession?

To "possess" means to have personal charge or or exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the thing possessed. 

Possession may be actual, constructive, and/or joint.


Actual possession means:
The controlled substance is in the hand of or on the person, or

The controlled substance is in a container in the hand of or on the person, or

The controlled substance is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.

Constructive possession means:
the controlled substance is in a place over which you have control, or in which you have concealed it. 

In order to establish constructive possession of a controlled substance if the controlled substance is in a place over which you do not have control, the State must prove you
1)   have control over the controlled substance, and

2)   have knowledge that the controlled substance was within your presence. 


Joint possession means:
two or more person may jointly possess an article, exercising control over it. 

If a person has exclusive possession of a controlled substance, knowledge of its presence may be inferred or assumed. 



What are the possible consequences of a Sale of Controlled Substance Conviction?

The maximum sentence for Sale of a Controlled Substance depends on the controlled substance.  There are too many controlled substances to list here, but most drugs we typically think of, like cocaine, MDMA, and heroin, carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.  Sale of marijuana carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. 

You can find out what the maximum possible sentence is for a specific controlled substance not listed here by looking at Florida Statute 893.13(1)(a) and Florida Statute 893.03Fla. Stat. 893.03 is Florida's controlled substance statute which divides controlled substances into Schedules with Schedule I being those with the highest potential for abuse. 


Don't they have to catch me in the act of making the sale or catch me with the controlled substance on me?

No.  Many people mistakenly believe that they have to be caught in the act of the sale to be prosecuted for Sale. This is incorrect.  One single eyewitness could be enough to convict you if the jury believed that witness beyond a reasonable doubt.  Also, because the statute is so broadly defined, it is a crime to simply possess with intent to sell, so the State does not even have to prove that you completed a sale.  Also, there is no requirement that you be arrested and observed during the sale.  So, as often happens, police can rely on a confidential informant or an undercover officer to make a purchase and later arrest you for Sale.  They can prosecute the case even if they don't recover the controlled substance.  Now, this does not mean that the State has a strong case.  Lack of video, credibility of witnesses, lack of fingerprints, DNA, and the actual controlled substance can all lead to a reasonable doubt. 

What are some defenses to Sale of a Controlled Substance?

Like mentioned above, lack of evidence is often a key to defending a Sale of Controlled Substance case.  If law enforcement makes an undercover buy, they have control of the environment and evidence.  Their failure to preserve items for fingerprints or DNA or to record the transaction could lead to reasonable doubt.  Conflict in the testimony of witnesses can also lead to reasonable doubt.  Search and seizure issues often arise in sale of controlled substance cases.  Testing of the controlled substances can also be challenged.  Each case is different, so a Sale of Controlled Substance defense attorney should always be looking for unique defenses to defend their constitutional rights. 


If you have been arrested for a Sale of a Controlled Substance charge or are under investigation, it is critical that you contact a criminal defense attorney to protect your rights.

SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

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