What Kinds of Drug Crimes Are There in Florida?

Understanding the variety and nature of drug crimes in Florida involves examining the wide range of offenses related to the use, possession, manufacturing, and distribution of illegal substances. Each type of drug crime carries specific legal ramifications and potential penalties. This article is intended to provide a clear and comprehensive explanation of the different kinds of drug crimes you might encounter in the state of Florida. 

Anyone who is charged with a drug-related crime in Florida should contact an experienced Florida criminal defense lawyer who has years of practice defending both simple and complicated cases. Mastering the defense of drug crimes in Florida requires spending time in court, in the trenches, fighting every day to ensure every client gets the benefit of a strong and effective defense. At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law in Tampa, we are proud to have represented hundreds of defendants in criminal cases who benefit from our courtroom experience and deep knowledge of Florida law and federal law. 

If you are charged with a drug-related crime in Florida, contact the defense lawyers at Stechschulte Nell in Tampa.  


Possession of Controlled Substances 

Possession of controlled substances is among the most common drug offenses in Florida. This crime occurs when an individual is found with illegal drugs on their person or property. Florida law categorizes drugs into different schedules based on their potential for abuse and medical value. For instance, Schedule I drugs, such as heroin and LSD, are considered the most dangerous, while Schedule V drugs, which include certain prescription medications, are deemed to have the lowest potential for abuse. The severity of the charges depends on the type and amount of the drug found. Simple possession is usually a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, but this can escalate based on the quantity and type of substance involved.  

Penalty: Possession of Controlled Substances: Third-degree felony, up to 5 years in prison. 


Possession with Intent to Distribute 

Possession with intent to distribute is a more serious offense than simple possession. This charge is applied when there is evidence suggesting that the individual intended to sell or distribute the drugs. Indicators of intent to distribute can include large quantities of drugs, packaging materials, scales, and large amounts of cash. The penalties for this crime are significantly harsher than for simple possession, usually triggering longer potential prison sentences and larger fines. The exact punishment varies, but it can be severe, especially if the offense involves large quantities or more dangerous substances. 

Penalty: Possession with Intent to Distribute: Second-Degree Felony up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

Drug Trafficking 

Drug trafficking involves the manufacturing, distribution, or sale of large quantities of controlled substances. Florida has strict laws against drug trafficking, and the penalties are particularly severe. Trafficking charges are based on the weight of the drugs involved, with mandatory minimum sentences imposed for various thresholds.  

For example, trafficking in cocaine involving more than 28 grams but less than 200 grams carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $50,000. As the quantity increases, so do the penalties, with some trafficking offenses carrying mandatory minimum sentences of 25 years or more. 

Penalty: Drug Trafficking: Mandatory minimum sentence, e.g., 28-200 grams of cocaine: 3 years minimum, $50,000 fine. The penalty increases with weight and the nature of drugs. 

Manufacturing of Controlled Substances 

The manufacturing of controlled substances is another serious drug crime in Florida. This crime involves producing illegal drugs through chemical synthesis or other means or cultivating marijuana illegally. Fentanyl production is a charge encountered with increasing frequency. Methamphetamine labs are another notorious example of this type of crime. Manufacturing charges are often severe due to the potential dangers involved, including the risk of explosions and the production of toxic substances. Those convicted of manufacturing drugs can face lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, and other significant legal consequences. 

Penalty: Manufacturing of Controlled Substances: Third-Degree Felony up to 5 years prison and a $5,000 fine. 

Drug Paraphernalia Offenses 

Possession of drug paraphernalia is another common drug-related offense. Paraphernalia includes items used to produce, conceal, and consume illicit drugs, such as bongs, pipes, needles, and scales. While possessing paraphernalia might seem less serious than other drug crimes, it can still lead to criminal charges. In Florida, possession of drug paraphernalia is typically a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. 

Penalty: Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: First-degree misdemeanor, up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

Prescription Drug Fraud 

Prescription drug fraud involves obtaining prescription medications through deceptive means. This includes forging prescriptions, doctor shopping (visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions) or impersonating medical staff to obtain drugs. Over the past decade, the opioid crisis highlighted the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Florida law enforcement agencies have increased efforts to combat prescription drug fraud. The crime is a felony and carries serious prison time, and substantial fines. 

Penalty: Prescription Drug Fraud: Third Degree Felony charges, up to 5 years prison and $5,000 in fines. 

Sale and Distribution of Controlled Substances 

The sale and distribution of controlled substances is an offense involving various activities in which drugs are transferred from one person to another. This can include selling drugs directly to individuals, distributing drugs to be sold by others, or any other form of drug distribution. The severity of the charges and penalties depends on the type and quantity of drugs involved and whether the sale occurred near protected areas such as schools or parks. Convictions for the sale and distribution of controlled substances can lead to long prison sentences, large fines, and a permanent criminal record. 

Penalty: Sale and Distribution of Controlled Substances: Second Degree Felony up to 15 years in prison and $10,000 in fines or Third-Degree Felony up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 fine. 

Conspiracy to Commit Drug Crimes 

Conspiracy to commit drug crimes is an offense where two or more people agree to engage in illegal drug activities. This can involve planning the manufacture, distribution, or sale of drugs. Even if the planned crime does not occur, the agreement itself is enough to warrant conspiracy charges. The penalties for conspiracy can be as severe as the penalties for the actual commission of the drug crime, depending on the specifics of the case. 

Penalty: Conspiracy to Commit Drug Crimes: Penalties are as severe as the actual commission of the drug crime. 

DUI and Drugged Driving 

Driving under the influence of drugs (DUI) is another critical area of drug-related offenses. In Florida, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired by any controlled substance. Drugged driving charges can arise from the use of illegal drugs, prescription medications, or even over-the-counter drugs that impair a person’s ability to drive. The consequences of a DUI involving drugs can include possible jail, mandatory license suspension, fines, and mandatory drug education program. 

Penalty: DUI and Drugged Driving: License suspension, fines, and potential jail depend on whether offense is first, second, or subsequent within 10 years, and mandatory education programs. 

Minor in Possession 

Minor in Possession (MIP) laws pertain to individuals under the age of 21 found in possession of alcohol or drugs. Florida law is strict about underage drug and alcohol use, and penalties for MIP can include fines, community service, mandatory substance abuse education, and potential jail time. An MIP conviction can also impact a minor’s future opportunities, including college admissions and employment prospects. 

Penalty: Minor in Possession: First Degree Misdemeanor up to 1 year in jail, $1,000 fine. If a juvenile, the record may be sealed. 

Defense Strategies for Drug Crimes 

Defending against drug crime charges requires a strategic approach specifically tailored to the facts of each case. Common effective defense strategies include challenging the legality of the search and seizure, disputing the ownership or knowledge of the drugs, and questioning the validity of evidence and procedures used by law enforcement.  


Read More > When Does a Drug Crime Become a Felony in Florida? 


Contact Our Experienced Florida Drug Crime Defense Lawyers Today 

If you’re facing drug crime charges in Florida, it’s crucial to have a strong defense team by your side. At Stechschulte Nell, Attorneys at Law, our experienced lawyers are dedicated to protecting your rights and providing a robust defense. Don’t face these serious charges alone. Contact us today at 813-280-1244 to discuss your case and learn how we can help. 

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