Drug Charge Criminal Defense Attorney

Fighting Criminal Drug Charges in Key West, Marathon and Plantation Key Courts

Drug charges can affect every aspect of your life for decades. Drug-related convictions can result in significant penalties, including fines, jail and Florida State Prison time. In addition, convictions that stay on your record can lead to substantial collateral consequences, wreaking havoc on educational, professional, and personal opportunities.

Fortunately, the skilled criminal defense lawyers at Reed Palacios Law are available to defend your rights. We understand the seriousness of drug charges and are dedicated to helping people in your situation protect their rights and their futures. We work with clients throughout the lower (Key West), middle (Marathon) and upper (Plantation Key) Keys. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation with a lawyer.

Types of Drug Violations and Offenses

Drug violations and offenses can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of an arrest. Regardless of the situation though, they should all be taken seriously. Some examples of drug crimes include:

  • Possession of controlled substance
  • Possession with the intent to distribute
  • Sale of a controlled substance
  • Drug trafficking
  • Manufacturing or deliver
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia

Drug crimes can range from simple misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the type of drug involved, how that drug is classified, the amount of the drug in question, where the violation occurred, and many other factors.

Penalties for Drug Violations and Offenses

Drug charges can result in extremely serious penalties – even for what you may think of as a relatively minor offense. For example, possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000; a conviction for simple possession of cocaine carries with it up to five years in Florida State Prison and a $5,000 fine. Florida State law assigns heavier penalties to particular drugs, like Fentanyl and Heroin. Additionally, if you are charged with selling certain drugs, you can face up to 15 years in Florida State Prison, or a $10,000 fine. Selling drugs in certain areas, like a park or in or near a school zone, increases the potential prison and fine amount all the more. Contact the attorneys at Reed Palacios Law for more information about the penalties in your case.

As if these legal penalties were not serious enough, the collateral consequences of a drug conviction can be worse for many people. Collateral consequences are the non-prison or fine repercussions that you may experience because you have a conviction on your criminal record. Some of the more common collateral consequences of a drug crime conviction include:

  • Problems renting an apartment
  • Loss of your current job
  • Difficulties getting hired
  • Sanction from your college or university, such as suspension or expulsions
  • The denial or revocation of a professional license

These issues may arise years or even decades after your court-imposed sentence has concluded. It is therefore critical to work with an attorney to ensure that your case is resolved as favorably as possible.

Drug Charge Defenses

It is important to understand that accusations of a drug offense or drug violation are just that – accusations. In our criminal justice system, the State Attorney must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof in the criminal justice system. A criminal defense attorney’s goal is to find the defenses available to you and use them to get the best possible outcome in your case. Some defenses can result in reduced charges by the prosecutor, reduced penalties, a dismissal of the charges, or an acquittal at trial. Some of the defenses that may apply in your case include:

Fourth Amendment Violations

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. In drug-related cases, several Fourth Amendment violations may be relevant defenses:

  • Traffic Stop Violations: If law enforcement officers pull you over without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, any evidence obtained during the traffic stop may be inadmissible in court. For example, if the officer lacked a valid reason to stop your vehicle and then discovered drugs during a subsequent search, this could constitute a Fourth Amendment violation. In addition, there are only certain circumstances under which a police officer can search your car during a traffic stop. If these circumstances did not exist, and they searched your car anyway, any evidence they found could likely be suppressed.
  • Searches of the Home: The Fourth Amendment also safeguards your right to privacy in your home. If law enforcement conducts a search without a valid search warrant or exigent circumstances, any evidence found during the search may be suppressed in court. It’s essential to challenge the legality of the search and any warrant issued to defend against drug charges related to searches of your residence.
  • Searches of the Person: Searches of an individual, such as a pat-down or full body search, require either consent or reasonable suspicion that the person is armed and dangerous. If the police conducted an unlawful search of your person and discovered drugs, you may have a valid Fourth Amendment defense.

Misidentification of Substances

Another common defense in drug-related cases involves challenging the accuracy of the substance identification. Misidentification can occur due to various reasons, including:

  • Lab Analysis Errors: Substances sent to a crime lab for testing may be mislabeled, contaminated, or mishandled, leading to inaccurate results. It’s important to scrutinize the lab procedures and results for any potential errors.
  • Field Testing Errors: Law enforcement often uses field test kits to identify suspected drugs. These tests are not always reliable and can yield false positives. If your case relies on field test results, it’s crucial to question the accuracy and reliability of the testing method.
  • Prescription Medication Defense: In some cases, individuals may be charged with illegal possession of prescription medication that they have a legitimate prescription for. Providing proof of a valid prescription can serve as a strong defense against drug possession charges.

You Have Options

There are many ways that a criminal defense attorney can help you, even if none of the above-listed defenses available. For example, lawyers can negotiate a plea agreement that involves pleading guilty to a lesser offense or for a reduced sentence by presenting mitigating circumstances such as mental illness, duress, age or simply explaining the circumstances and presenting a different story than the one the prosecutor read in the police report. In certain cases, your lawyer may be able to get you into drug court or another diversionary program that could allow you to avoid a conviction altogether.

How Can the Lawyers at Reed Palacios Law Help You with Your Drug Charge?

If you are facing drug charges, time is of the essence! It is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as you can. At Reed Palacios Law, we are committed to protecting our clients’ rights and bringing every case we take to the most favorable outcome possible. We will evaluate your case and legal options and ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.

We have over 20 years of experience handling criminal matters in Key West, Marathon, and Plantation Key. By working on both sides of the courtroom, and have strong relationships and connections with local prosecutors, judges and clerks that allow us to navigate the Monroe County criminal justice system efficiently, effectively and to each client’s benefit. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation with a Florida criminal defense lawyer.