Florida has very clear statutes pertaining to drug abuse prevention and control. Below, we will walk through what is legally classified as drug paraphernalia, your rights during search and seizures, and the penalties associated with specific charges.
What Falls Under Drug Paraphernalia?
In Florida (Florida Statute § 893.145), drug paraphernalia is defined as “all equipment, products, and materials that are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, containing, concealing, transporting, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance”.
Drug paraphernalia can consist of, but is not limited to:
- Diluents and adulterants, like caffeine, dextrose, or mannitol
- Scales and balances
- Bowls or containers
Drug paraphernalia can include a lot of objects that may simply be household objects or are used for substances not considered controlled substances (i.e., a tobacco pipe). Establishing that the paraphernalia was intended for drug use can be challenging, though, and is determined by specific considerations (see Florida Statute § 893.146).
Know Your Rights: Legal Search & Seizure
You have rights when you are asked by police to search your person, home, or car. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unlawful searches and seizures. Law enforcement officers must obey the law when they search you or your property.
Florida Stop and Frisk Law (Florida Statute § 901.151)
Florida’s Stop and Frisk Law permits law enforcement officers to temporarily detain anyone when circumstances suggest that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.
When you are detained, remember to remain calm. Being stopped or temporarily detained does not mean you are under arrest. The law enforcement officer will briefly identify you and try to determine whether their suspicion about criminal activity taking place (or is about to take place) is correct.
When you are stopped, law enforcement officers should not:
- Detain you longer than is required
- Move the detainee from where they were originally detained, unless they move a short distance within a close vicinity of the alleged offense
If no probable cause to arrest you is found, you will be released. However, if probable cause arises, you will be placed under arrest.
Officers may also frisk you if they believe you are armed with a dangerous weapon and pose a threat to the safety of the officer and others present. If the officer frisks you, it should be nonintrusive and not go beyond a pat-down.
If you are illegally detained and proper protocols are not followed, any evidence associated with the detention is invalid. Thus, your attorney can file a motion to suppress anything seized during this detainment.
Do You Have to Tell the Police Your Name?
You do have the right to remain silent but not when an officer asks for your name or for you to identify yourself. You are required to give the officer your real name.
Giving a false name when you are legally detained is prohibited. If you lie about your name, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. If you falsely identify yourself and someone else is adversely affected, you may be charged with a third-degree felony (Florida Statute § 901.36).
When Can Police Search Your Car?
If you have given your consent, an officer can legally search your car. To search your car without your consent, they must have a search warrant. Without a warrant or consent, there are still instances where an officer can search your vehicle with probable cause, such as:
- The officer can see evidence in plain view
- The officer believes a search is necessary for their safety
- You are placed under arrest
- Your car is towed or impounded
When Can Police Search My Home?
With a search warrant, the police have the right to enter and search your home. Without a warrant, you must permit them entry.
If you feel like your rights were violated and your property was searched illegally, you should speak with an attorney. An attorney can help you investigate the legalities of the search and/or arrest.
How Serious Is a Drug Paraphernalia Charge?
Drug paraphernalia charges are very serious. Being charged should be taken seriously as a conviction can have weighty consequences (Florida Statute § 893.147).
You can be charged for use, possession, manufacture, delivery, transportation, advertisement, or retail sale of drug paraphernalia. Depending on the specific charge, you can be penalized differently. Drug paraphernalia charges breakdown as follows:
- Use or possession, first-degree misdemeanor
- Manufacture or delivery, third-degree felony
- Delivery to a minor, second-degree felony
- Transportation, third-degree felony
- Advertisement, first-degree misdemeanor
- Retail Sale, first-degree misdemeanor
First-degree misdemeanors carry a sentencing time of up to a year in jail and up to $1000 fines. Second-degree felonies are punishable of up to fifteen years of incarceration and a maximum of $10,000 in fines, while third-degree felonies are chargeable of up to five years and $5,000 in fines (Florida Statute § 775.082; Florida Statute § 775.083).
If you are accused of a drug paraphernalia crime, you should immediately seek legal counsel. A conviction of any kind follows you for the rest of your life, and felony charges can affect certain civil rights. The right drug crime attorney will know how to best help you protect your rights and freedom.At the Law Office of Armando J. Hernandez, P.A., our team is dedicated to supporting our clients as they navigate the criminal justice system. We believe in providing each and every one of our clients with high quality, personalized legal aid. For a free case review, contact us online today or give us a call at (305) 400-0074 if you or a loved one has been accused of a drug crime.