What am I facing for Possession Cocaine?
Penalties for possession cocaine can technically be very stiff – up to 5 years in prison. That said, most of our clients typically face one of two possible outcomes. First, is court diversion. Put simply, if you are a first time offender who has never done a court program before, we may be able to get you into Drug Court. If you successfully complete Drug Court, your case will be dismissed and then we can seal/expunge it if you have never sealed/expunged a criminal record before.
For clients who do not qualify for Drug Court or who do not want to participate in it (because it takes 18 months and requires drug testing among other special conditions), most clients qualify for 18-24 months of probation. If you have a bad criminal record or violated your probation with a possession cocaine arrest, you may not qualify for probation and may face time in jail or prison.
If you are a first time offender, you may qualify for drug court. If you qualify, drug court can be a very good alternative to regular litigation. The first thing you need to know about drug court is that it is not easy. It lasts a minimum of 18 months, assuming you do everything you are supposed to do and do not violate its terms (such as by having dirty urine).
If you are charged with possession of cocaine and enter drug court, you will be required to attend classes, counseling, and regular drug testing. For some people, drug court is a great alternative to being prosecuted for possession of cocaine because your case gets dismissed after successfully completion of the program.
For others, drug court is not easy at all. Put simply, if you have a problem with cocaine or cannot handle making appointments and being responsible, drug court will be very hard. However, for those who successfully complete, not only is your case dismissed by the court, but many people are able to get the help they need to beat a drug addiction to cocaine.
From the perspective of a criminal defense lawyer, if you are able to successfully complete drug court, then you should do it because your case gets dropped in the end. Once dropped, we can then seal/expunge the record if you have never done that before.
More Info on Penalties for Possession Cocaine
As a criminal defense lawyer who has practiced criminal law in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for many years, I can tell you that the Broward State Attorney’s Office is the most conservative and inflexible prosecutor’s office in the entire state. Prosecutors in Broward routinely seek prison sentences or lengthy terms of probation, even when the facts of a particular case do not warrant a harsh sentence. They are also known for prosecuting cases that other counties do not because they are contrary to the prevailing legal norm, although technically allowed under the law.
For instance, Broward is the only county in the state that prosecutes “residue” cases. Meaning, if you are caught with a crack pipe, but no actual crack, you will get prosecuted for possession of cocaine for the black, tar-like residue that is left in the pipe after all the crack has been smoked.
Such prosecutions garner tremendous criticism because most people who smoke crack in this community are poor and are usually African American. Cocaine users with money general use higher quality powder cocaine. Rather than charge someone with possession of cocaine, the more appropriate charge would be possession of drug paraphernalia.
When it comes to possession of cocaine cases, this culture of conservatism can cause a defendant to suffer very negative consequences if their case is not handled correctly by their criminal defense lawyer. Regardless of the type of cocaine involved, possession of cocaine charges all carry the same maximum penalties.
Pursuant to Florida Statute §893.13, penalties for possession cocaine include up to 5 years in prison or up to 5 years of probation because it is a 3rd degree felony. Possession of cocaine may also require the payment of a fine up to $5,000.00.
Typically, most people charged with possession of cocaine get probation. If you are charged with possession of cocaine and get a jail or prison sentence, it is usually because you have a bad criminal record or have other more serious charges.