Florida has strict laws prohibiting drug possession, sale and distribution. The state also has a comprehensive controlled substances list that outlines the types of drugs that are most dangerous and illegal.
However, some drugs on Florida’s controlled substances list include prescription medication like cough medicine, treatments for insomnia, depressants, etc. This can be problematic for several reasons, especially for those caught possessing such drugs while close to a health care facility, thanks to a bill passed just last year.
In 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law HB 95. Designed to address the state’s opioid abuse crisis, the bill amended Florida’s drug laws. One of the most notable changes made by the bill is the enhancement of the penalties for those who sell, deliver or possess with the intent to sell a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a health care facility.
What counts as a health care facility?
Under HB 95, the following facilities count for purposes of criminal charges:
- Mental health facilities
- Substance abuse treatment centers
- Clinics offering treatment, prevention and intervention services
- Recovery residences and assisted living facilities
- Pain management clinics
Those caught possessing controlled substances within 1,000 feet of a health care center may be charged with a second-degree felony if they possess certain Schedule II substances (such as codeine, hydrocodone, morphine and opium). A second-degree felony carries a maximum prison sentence of 15 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
But for individuals caught possessing most Schedule I drugs (like ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, LSD), they can face a first-degree felony conviction. First-degree felonies carry a maximum prison sentence of 30 years and up to $250,000 in fines.
Authorities can also charge individuals for carrying a controlled substance not specified by HB 95. A court can order these individuals to pay a $500 fine and serve 100 hours of public service.
Drug possession charges for people arrested near health care facilities can lead to harsh sentences, tall fines, and a criminal record that can hurt a person’s ability to find a job or loan. You could potentially face charges even if you didn’t intend to sell a medication meant only for you. To prove that you didn’t intend to sell a controlled substance in court, consider hiring a seasoned criminal defense attorney to help you.