Florida Supreme Court Affirms Controversial Drug Possession Law

The Florida Supreme Court upheld Florida v. Adkins the state’s controversial drug possession law, ruling that defendants must prove that they did not know they were carrying an illicit substance. The decision was the result of a federal judge in Orlando ruling that the entire Florida law was unconstitutional on its face under the due process clause. This law is in disagreement with approximately 48 other states, which rest the burden of proof on the state. Most jurisdictions require prosecutors to prove that the defendants knew the substances that they were carrying were illegal.

Prosecutors must still prove that the suspect knew the drug was in their possession.

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Jacksonville, or PCS, is a very serious charge that can carry very serious repercussions and harsh punishments, including long prison sentences, fines, inability to be employed, extinguished educational opportunities, and driver’s license suspensions.

Under Florida Statute. § 893.03, controlled substances in Florida are classified into five schedules, ranging from the most severe drugs with most severe punishments in Schedule I, to the least severe drugs with the lightest controlled substance punishments in the Schedule V classification.

In order to properly charge an offender with Possession of a Controlled Substance, the prosecution must prove the alleged offender had either actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance, an essential element to PCS. But what is the difference between actual vs. constructive possession?

Actual possession is proved when one is shown to have actual, physical possession of the controlled substance. With this type of possession, the substance has typically already been ingested or is still in one’s physical possession, like in a clothes pocket.

Constructive possession is harder to define, and is more difficult for the State to prove. In order to prove constructive possession, the State is required to prove the following three elements:

– One was aware of the substance in one’s vicinity;
– One knew the substance was illegal in nature; and
– The controlled substance was in one’s presence, or close enough to actually possess the substance.

If a person possesses a controlled substance unintentionally, he or she can establish the affirmative defense available under the law, which precludes the conviction. Sometimes this situation can result from someone planting an illegal substance on another in order to hide their wrongdoing. Unfortunately, this very same act plagues the law enforcement community as well, planting illicit substances on someone in order to make an arrest that appears facially valid.

If one obtains an experienced Jacksonville drug crimes defense attorney, one’s attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence if one was arrested due to an unreasonable search and seizure by law enforcement of oneself or one’s home. If a search was conducted illegally, anything found as evidence in the search is inadmissible, and cannot be used against one in court legally.

The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source: Florida Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Drug Law, DigitalJournal.com

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