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Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS)

Drug offenses in Florida, including Possession of a Controlled Substance, or PCS, can result in very serious repercussions and harsh punishments, including prison sentences, fines, effects on employment and educational opportunities, and suspensions of driving privileges.

Possession of a controlled substance is punishable as a Florida state offense, federal offense, or both. A controlled substance can be almost anything that has the potential to be abused, can be addictive, or that results in physical or mental harm. Some examples include medications with a prescription, medications without a prescription, street drugs, natural substances, chemicals and man-made substances.

Orlando Possession of a Controlled Substance Defense Attorneys

If you have been charged with drug possession in Orange County, Florida, the attorneys of Hale & Hale, P.A. will examine the details of your case to try and find potential defenses or mitigating circumstances that may reduce or eliminate your charge. Maria D. Hale and Richard O. Hale are experienced criminal defense attorneys and knowledgeable about Florida’s drug laws. If you have been charged in Florida with PCS, or possession of a controlled substance, contact Hale & Hale, P.A. at (407) 425-4640 today for a consultation about your alleged offense in Orlando.


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Possession in Florida

In order to be charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance in Florida, a person has to have actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance. If the prosecution is unable to prove the alleged offender had either actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance, they will most likely be unable to charge the offender with Possession of a Controlled Substance since it is a required element of the offense.

  • Actual possession is having actual, physical of the controlled substance. With this type of possession, the substance is actually on your body or in your possession. For example, if you are holding the controlled substance in your hand, or the controlled substance is in the pocket of the shirt you are wearing, you are deemed to have actual possession.
  • Constructive possession is harder to define, and is more difficult for the prosecution to prove. Constructive possession is comprised of three requirements:
    • The alleged offender was aware of the substance in their vicinity;
    • They knew the substance was illegal in nature; and
    • The controlled substance was in their presence, or close enough to actually possess the substance.

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Florida Laws Pertaining to Controlled Substances

Under Florida’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, Fla. Stat. § 893.03, controlled substances in Florida are classified into five schedules, ranging from the most serious drugs with severe penalties, Schedule I, to the least serious drugs with the lightest controlled substance penalties, Schedule V drugs.

  • Schedule I - These drugs have a high potential for abuse by users and no accepted medical use in the United States. Some examples of controlled substances in this category are LSD, Heroin and Mescaline.
  • Schedule II – These drugs also have a high potential for abuse, but do have some accepted, yet limited, medical use in the United States. Examples in this category include Opium, Cocaine and Hydrocodone.
  • Schedule III – These drugs have some potential for abuse, but the potential is lower than Schedule I or II drugs. These drugs are also used for medical purposes in the United States. Controlled substances in this category can be drug or hormonal steroids related to testosterone, or steroids that promote muscle growth.
  • Schedule IV – These drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs and are commonly used for medical purposes in the United States. Examples of drugs in this schedule can include Xanex or Valium.
  • Schedule V - Drugs in this schedule have the lowest potential for abuse and are have commonly accepted medical purposes in the United States. Examples of drugs in this category can include stimulants not otherwise listed in another schedule or small doses of codeine or opium.

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Florida Penalties for Possession Offenses

The penalties for possessing controlled substances are also listed in Florida’s Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in Fla. Stat. § 893.13.

A conviction for Possession of a Schedule V Controlled Substance is misdemeanor of the first degree, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or fines not exceeding $1,000. Possession offenses of controlled substances in Schedule I, II, III or IV are punishable as felonies of the third degree. This degree of felony can result in imprisonment in a Florida prison up to five years and/or fines not more than $5,000.

If an offender is convicted of a federal drug offense, punishments can be much more severe, including longer prison sentences and steeper fines.


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How to Fight a Possession Charge

Your attorney will analyze the circumstances surrounding your offense, and determine if there are defenses applicable to your situation, or other factors that can lead to a lesser charge. Although this site has general information, only your attorney will be able to help you identify what defenses, if any, will apply in your case.

One such example of circumstances that can lead to a reduction in your charges is if your constitutional rights were violated. For example, your attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence if you were arrested after Florida’s law enforcement officers conducted an unreasonable search and seizure of you, your home or person. If a search was conducted illegally, anything found as evidence in the search is inadmissible, and cannot be used against you.

You are also afforded protection against self-incrimination by the Constitution. A violation of this constitutional protection most commonly occurs if an arresting officer has failed to read someone their Miranda warnings. If you disclosed compromising information to an arresting officer without being told of these warnings, including your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney, this information cannot be used against you.

Other options your attorney may use to defend against a possession charge can include:

  • Mistaken identity,
  • Lack of evidence to justify the charge,
  • Entrapment, or
  • An inability to demonstrate possession of the controlled substance.

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Hale & Hale, P.A. | Orlando, Florida Drug Possession Defense Attorneys

If you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance in Orange County, Florida contact the attorneys of Hale & Hale, P.A. to discuss the facts of your particular situation. Richard O. Hale and Maria D. Hale will make every effort to help you avoid serious repercussions and consequences for your alleged offense. Contact the law office of Hale & Hale, P.A. at (407) 425-4640 for a consultation about your possession of a controlled substance offense in Orange County, Florida, and the surrounding areas of Orlando, Seminole County, Osceola County, Winter Park and Kissimmee.