Facing federal drug charges in Florida is a serious matter that can have devastating consequences that may follow you for life. You can find the statutes that criminalize drug crimes in Title 21 of the United States Code, “Crimes and Criminal Procedure.”
Title 21 Section 841(a)(1) – Possession and distribution
Possession of an illegal drug is a criminal offense under 21 USC 841(a)(1). This section of the law applies to anyone who “knowingly and intentionally” possesses a controlled substance. The term “controlled substance” refers to any drug listed in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 USC 812).
The CSA lists five “schedules” of drugs, with Schedule I being the most dangerous and Schedule V being the least dangerous. The law bases these schedules on factors such as a drug’s potential for abuse, its medical usefulness and its safety. Some examples include:
- Schedule I: heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy
- Schedule II: cocaine, methamphetamine, oxycodone
- Schedule III: ketamine, anabolic steroids
- Schedule IV: alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), zolpidem (Ambien)
- Schedule V: cough medicine with codeine
The penalties for violating 21 USC 841(a)(1) depend on the Schedule of the drug involved and the amount possessed. For example, possession of a Schedule I or II drug with the intent to distribute it is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Title 21 Section 846 – Conspiracy
A federal drug conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a drug crime. It is important to note that a conspiracy can exist even if the people involved didn’t actually carry out the crime.
The penalties for drug charges involving conspiracies are generally the same as the penalties for committing the underlying drug crime. For example, if the conspiracy is to distribute a Schedule I or II drug, the maximum penalty is 20 years in prison.
There are defenses you can use to minimize the consequences or have the case thrown out if the federal government charges you with a drug crime. These defenses will depend specifically on your unique circumstances. For instance, if you are facing a possession with intent to sell charge, you could argue that the drugs were for personal use and not for distribution.