Panama City Drug Crime Attorney
Information about Drug Crimes in Panama City
Panama City is the site of significant narcotics trafficking activity, and state and federal law enforcement agencies are very active. Common drug offenses in the Panama City area include Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession with Intent to Distribute, Sale, Trafficking, Cultivating and Obtaining a Prescription by Fraud.
According to statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there were 1,553 arrests for drug-related offenses in Bay County in 2013 alone, while the Florida Office of Drug Control states that more than $300 million was invested in drug control programs statewide last year.
The Office of Drug Control has listed illegal possession of controlled substances to be of special concern to law enforcement in the Panama City/Panama City Beach area. Methamphetamine and "molly" are widespread in the Panama City/Panama City Beach area. Additionally, cocaine has been named the number one drug threat statewide. However, the most widely abused drug is marijuana, which is often cultivated using indoor grow labs as well as being grown outdoors in rural areas. Other concerns include the possession and sale of prescription drugs including Hydrocodone (Loritab), Alazopram (Xanex), Clonazepam (Klonopin) and Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet, Roxicodone).
Drug Crime Penalties
Penalties for drug-related offense depend greatly upon the type of drug, the quantity and whether it is being sold or distributed. Florida classifies drugs according to different "Schedules", a system which groups drugs according to their potential for abuse and accepted medical use. Schedule I drugs generally carry a tougher penalty than those in Schedule II or III.
Another factor that influences the potential sentence is the quantity (weight) of drugs involved:
- Possession of Less Than 20 Grams of Marijuana is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and $1,000 in fines
- More than 20 Grams is a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine
- Possession of a Controlled Substance can elevate to Trafficking in cases where the weight of the drugs is over a statutorily prescribed amount
Trafficking in a Controlled Substances is a particularly difficult offense. In many cases there are minimum mandatory prison sentences when Trafficking is charged.
It should be noted that a conviction of any controlled substance charge, even misdemeanor marijuana possession can lead to a driver's license suspension. This is even true if you hold an out-of-state license as many states grant reciprocity to Florida's driver's license suspension.
Defending You on Drug Crime Charges in Panama City
An arrest for a drug crime can have a devastating effect on your future, with potential consequences including imprisonment, steep fines and probation, suspension of your driver's license, as well as a criminal record that could have a negative effect on employment and future career opportunities. Fortunately there are ways to fight drug charges, such as by demonstrating that your Constitutional Rights were violated by a warrantless search, an illegal stop, or by raising questions about whether you knew that the drugs were present. Even if it is not possible to beat the charges, it may be possible to negotiate a favorable plea bargain, or negotiate a referral to a diversion program (such as Pre-Trial Intervention, "PTI") that could ultimately lead to the charge being dismissed.