A first-time drug possession charge is either a misdemeanor or a felony,
depending on the type of controlled substance and the amount found upon
an arrest. For example, possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis is
a first-degree misdemeanor, while possession of less than 28 grams of
cocaine is a third-degree felony.
Not only does a conviction of a
drug crime result in a lengthy jail/prison sentence, expensive fines, and loss of
driving privileges for an extended period, but also a permanent criminal
record which could cause significant damage to your professional reputation
and professional life.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid serving time behind bars and even
getting your charges dropped altogether.
In Florida, there are three main types of sentencing alternatives available
for individuals facing drug possession charges: pretrial diversion, pretrial
intervention, and drug court.
Run by the State Attorney’s Office, pretrial diversion is a program
often reserved for first-time, nonviolent offenders who are charged with
misdemeanor drug possession. In order to qualify for this program, your
criminal history must be spotless.
Once you are accepted into the program, it is similar to probation. Requirements
include monthly reports with a supervising officer, random drug testing,
drug or alcohol counseling, community service, and avoiding further criminal activity.
Once the program is complete within the six- to 12-month period, all charges
will be dropped. In addition, you will be eligible to expunge or seal
the arrest for the drug possession charge.
While pretrial diversion and pretrial invention are both similar in nature,
the latter applies to first-time felony possession offenders and those
who do not have a clean criminal record.
Just like probation, you must report to the court on a consistent basis,
participate in drug treatment, submit to drug testing, avoid further criminal
activity, and comply with certain requirements issued by the court. There
are typically more conditions you must fulfill in pretrial intervention
compared to pretrial diversion; however, both programs last between six
and 12 months.
Upon completion of the program, your charges will be dropped.
For repeat offenders who are not eligible for either pretrial diversion
or pretrial invention could be referred to drug court by the State Attorney’s
Office. Although both misdemeanor and felony drug possession charges are
generally eligible, drug distribution and trafficking cases are not.
At the start of the process, you must enter a plea bargain which details
the amount of time you will spend in jail/prison if you fail to complete
the program. Keep in mind, the penalties for not completing the program
are more severe compared to the penalties issued after court sentencing.
The drug court program consists of the following:
- 12-step recovery program meetings
- Frequent random drug tests
- Frequent visits to the court
Drug court programs often run for one year. Testing positive in drug tests
during the program results in harsh sentences.
If you have been arrested for drug possession in Daytona Beach,
contact our experienced criminal defense lawyer at the
Law Offices of Robert Stepniak today.