Guide to Florida Drug Possession Laws

Guide to Florida Drug Possession Laws
drug possession laws

Florida drug possession laws are among the strictest in the United States. Even simple possession charges can result in a felony record with substantial prison time for some illegal substances. If you are facing drug possession charges, you need an experienced attorney to protect your rights.

Florida Drug Possession Laws

Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes contains the Florida Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, which makes the sale, possession, transportation, or manufacture of controlled substances illegal. In Florida law, drug possession means that you are knowingly holding an illegal drug for sale or personal use, or that you have control over it in a known location.

Possession of any controlled substance, except for marijuana, without a valid prescription, is a felony. The penalties for simple possession vary depending on the substance. Charges for possession with the intent to sell or drug trafficking carry more severe penalties.

The state prosecutes most drug crimes; however, the federal government may pursue charges in some cases, particularly when crimes involve large amounts of drugs or groups of people working together to sell or transport drugs. To obtain a conviction, prosecutors must prove that the defendant knew the drug was illegal and knowingly possessed it.

Drug Schedules

Florida drug possession laws classify hundreds of different controlled substances into five schedules, depending on whether the drug has any medical uses and the risk of abuse. Some controlled substances are prescription medications, such as Xanax, Valium, Vicodin, and OxyContin, while others are “street drugs” such as cocaine, marijuana, LSD, methamphetamine, and ecstasy.

Schedule I drugs are highly addictive drugs, such as LSD, peyote, mescaline, and heroin, that have no medical use. Schedule II drugs include addictive drugs with some medical use, such as opium, cocaine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.

Schedule III drugs have a moderate risk of abuse and an accepted medical purpose, such as anabolic steroids. Schedule IV drugs are unlikely to be addictive and have some medical uses, such as diazepam, lorazepam, and clonazepam.

Schedule V drugs are non-addictive drugs with legitimate medical uses, such as Tylenol 4. Schedule I narcotics carry the most severe penalties.

Search and Seizure

Most arrests due to violations of the Florida drug possession laws involve some type of search to verify the accused person possesses an illegal substance. Law enforcement must follow search and seizure laws to avoid violating the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights.

The court may disregard any evidence obtained through an illegal search or seizure. In some cases, the judge may dismiss the charges if there is not enough legally obtained evidence to support them.

Types of Drug Crimes

There are several types of drug possession crimes that carry different potential penalties.


Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as bongs, needles, rolling papers, and pipes, may be illegal in some circumstances. Generally, the prosecution must prove that the defendant used the items to consume illegal drugs.

Simple Possession

Simple possession charges result when a person possesses a small amount of a controlled substance for personal use. The amount of drug you can have without exceeding the threshold for simple possession varies depending on the substance.

Possession With Intent to Sell, Deliver, or Distribute

The Florida drug possession laws define possession with the intent to sell, deliver, or distribute as a larger amount of drugs than simple possession, but not a large enough amount to justify a drug trafficking charge. In addition to weight, evidence of intent such as scales, or large amounts of cash, may factor into whether the prosecution pursues this charge versus simple possession.


Possession of a large amount of illegal drugs can lead to trafficking charges even if there is no other evidence that you are selling or distributing drugs. The specific threshold varies by substance.

Penalties for Drug Possession in Florida

The charges and potential penalties for drug possession in Florida mostly depend on the amount and type of substance. In some cases, other factors, such as where you were arrested or possession of a firearm, may result in more severe penalties. In addition to varying maximum penalties, some crimes have mandatory minimum penalties.

Schedule I Drug

Possession of a Schedule I drug is a first-degree felony. The penalty is up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for simple possession. The penalties increase for possession with intent to sell, drug trafficking, and enhanced charges.

All Other Drugs Except Marijuana

The Florida drug possession laws make possession of any other controlled substance, except for marijuana, a third-degree felony. The maximum penalty for simple possession is up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

As with Schedule I drugs, the penalties are higher for more severe charges. Additionally, you may receive probation, community service, mandatory drug treatment, random drug testing, and a two-year driver’s license suspension. Some first offenders may qualify for a drug diversion program, which could lead to the court dismissing the charges.


Possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor with a potential penalty of up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Possession of 20 grams or more is a third-degree felony with a potential sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

If the police arrest you for possession with the intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a child care facility, school, park, university, public housing, church, or assisted living facility, it is a second-degree felony with a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Drug Trafficking

The penalties for drug trafficking vary by drug. Prison time can range from three years to life and fines may be $50,000 or more.

Help With Florida Drug Possession Laws

Due to the severe nature of Florida drug possession laws, it is important to work with an experienced attorney if you are facing drug possession charges. Mike G is a former prosecutor with more than 25 years of experience. He will fight to protect your rights. Contact Mike G Law to schedule a free consultation.

Comments are closed.

Contact Mike G Now

* Complete all required fields

"*" indicates required fields


Effective Defense from an AV Preeminent* Rated Former Prosecutor with more than 25 Years of Experience