Drug Charges

There is a War on Drugs in the United States, and it has resulted in thousands of people being locked in prison for the mere possession of a substance deemed illegal by the government. Those who are accused of selling or manufacturing illegal drugs are in the crosshairs as an enemy in that War.

While many people think of heroin, cocaine and other well-known illicit substances, many in Palm Beach County also face criminal accusations of illegal use, sale and procurement of prescription drugs. Any drug charge is a serious offense with severe repercussions.

West Palm Beach Drug Defense Lawyer

If you face any type of drug-related charge, you have a right to an attorney who will fight for your freedom. When you turn to Meltzer & Bell, P.A., you will have a West Palm Beach drug defense lawyer  on your side who will vigorously defend you.

We are dedicated defense attorneys who can respond to you 24 hours per day, seven days per week. You will have an experienced partner working on your narcotics case — we don't hand cases down to associates without criminal law experience. Our team of attorneys work together to develop the best strategies and strongest defense possible in your case.

Call us today at (561) 283-3259 to set up a consultation. We represent clients in Palm Beach County, both in Florida state court in West Palm Beach and at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Courthouse. We can also represent you if charged in Broward County or Miami-Dade County.


Overview of South Florida Narcotics Law


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Federal Drug Law vs. Florida Drug Law

Both Florida and the federal government have laws pertaining to controlled substances. For the most part, these substances are the same. Both make illegal the mere possession of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, LSD (acid), methamphetamines and more without proper legal authority.

Most drug charges are state drug charges. A person typically faces these after being arrested by local police, county sheriff deputies or the Florida Highway Patrol. If you face state drug charges, the charges are heard in the Palm Beach County Criminal Court.

Federal law, which is passed by Congress and signed by the President, may be enforced by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) or any other federal agency.

Federal drug law and Florida drug law are similar in what is prohibited. If arrested at an airport or federal facility with drugs allegedly on your person, you may face federal possession charges. However, federal officials tend to be more interested in trafficking charges, which involve the manufacturing, sale and transportation of large amounts of a controlled substance. Trafficking charges carry mandatory minimum sentences and fines in the millions of dollars.

If accused of violating federal drug laws, you will be tried at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Courthouse or one of the courthouses in Fort Lauderdale and Miami and face time in federal prison — which, contrary to what you may have heard, is not a "country club."

At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we are licensed to practice and experienced in both state courts in Florida and in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, which includes Palm Beach County.


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Types of Controlled Substances Under Florida and Federal Law

Both U.S. and Florida law have declared a wide range of substances to be unlawful to possess without sufficient legal permission. Legal permission could include a prescription, although it must be valid.

These controlled substances have been grouped in "schedules," or lists, according to how dangerous lawmakers perceive them to be. The schedules are found in 21 U.S.C. § 812 for federal law and in Florida Statutes Annotated § 893.03 for state law. For the most part, the schedules overlap.

Punishment for some offenses depends on the schedule of the drug a person is convicted of possessing.

Schedule I

According to the law, these substances have the highest potential for abuse with no accepted medical use. Examples include heroin, LSD (acid), ecstasy and marijuana.

Schedule II

Substances in Schedule II have been determined to have a high potential for abuse and be highly addictive . Substances in this schedule are cocaine, methamphetamine and Adderall.

Schedule III

These have a moderate to low capacity for dependence, and some accepted medical uses. This schedule includes anabolic steroids.

Schedule IV

This schedule includes drugs that have a low risk for dependence and abuse. Examples are Xanax, Darcocet and Ambien.

Schedule V

These have, according to lawmakers, the lowest potential for abuse or addiction. This schedule includes certain cough medications containing low quantities of codeine.


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Different Narcotics Offenses in Palm Beach County

There are several types of charges a person might face in relation to drug charges. Some include:

Punishment can be wide-ranging, but the mere possession of any controlled substance other than marijuana is a felony, with a prison sentence of up to five years. Your driver's license may also be suspended, and you will have a permanent criminal record.

In some cases, you may be eligible to participate in drug court. Under the drug court program, you will be required to go through a drug treatment plan and meet certain other requirements for at least a year. If the program is successfully completed, the charges are dismissed.

Palm Beach County's program is open to people facing possession charges, but not sale. It is available for both first-time offenders and those with a record. Your defense attorney can help negotiate your acceptance into the program if you determine it is your best option.


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Defenses in Palm Beach Drug Cases

Your best options for defense will depend on your case. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we will help determine the best possible strategy, and execute it with the passion your case deserves.

In most narcotics cases, the chief evidence is the drugs themselves. The drugs were often found as the result of a search. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution ensures the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  For any place where a person has a reasonable expectation from privacy - especially a person's home - police need probable cause. Usually, that means a warrant.

Your defense lawyer will carefully analyze the circumstances leading to your arrest. If any of the evidence was obtained through an illegal search, it can be challenged and might be tossed out entirely. Without critical evidence, prosecutors may have no choice but to drop or reduce charges.


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Finding an Experienced Drug Defense Attorney in West Palm Beach

Drug charges are very serious, and you may face lifelong repercussions if convicted. It's important that you have experienced counsel fighting for you. At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., we are prepared to take on your case whether you were arrested in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Wellington or anywhere else in Palm Beach County, on state or federal charges.

Have a skilled West Palm Beach drug defense lawyer on your side. Call us today at (561) 283-3259 to set up a consultation.

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