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GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) is classified as a Schedule I drug and has high abuse potential and no recognized medical use at this time. GHB cannot be bought, sold, manufactured, or distributed. Simple possession drug offenses are frequently charged as misdemeanors, but GHB is an exception. Possession of the drug is typically a less serious drug offense than trafficking, manufacturing, or distribution, but the penalties for conviction are still severe. Possession of GHB in Florida is a third-degree felony under Florida law.
If you have been charged with possession of GHB in Florida, you can count on a vigorous and zealous defense from Galigani Law Firm. Attorney Dean Galigani has represented hundreds of clients accused of drug crimes. He can help you navigate the process and protect your rights.
Galigani Law Firm serves clients in Florida, including Alachua County, Marion County, Levy County, Columbia County and Gilchrist County. Call (352) 375-0812 now to arrange a free consultation today.
When a person holds a controlled substance for their own use rather than manufacturing, distributing, or selling it, they are guilty of drug possession. Florida State law distinguishes between two types of possession:
Actual possession of a drug entails having physical control over the drug in question. Drugs are regarded as being in actual possession if they are on someone or in their possessions.
Constructive possession of a drug means a person does not have to touch the drugs directly. One is still considered to have constructive possession of a controlled substance if they know where it is and can access it. For example, it would be considered constructive possession if a defendant has drugs in their car's glove box.
Possession of less than one kilogram of GBH is a third-degree felony. If a suspect is caught with more than one kilogram of the drug, they can face trafficking charges.
Note that the weight of a mixture containing the drug, not the weight of the GHB alone, determines the weight of GHB.
Penalties if convicted include:
A defendant may receive a sentence of probation, prison time, or any combination at the judge's discretion. In addition to fines, a guilty conviction results in a one-year suspension of a driver's license.
Drug trafficking charges may be brought against a defendant based on actual or constructive possession. If GHB in the necessary quantities was discovered on the person, the prosecutor could prove actual possession. A prosecutor must more frequently demonstrate constructive possession, which is more challenging.
The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was aware of the drug's presence, that they were able to exercise dominion and control over the GHB, and that they knew it to be GHB to establish constructive possession. In many cases, the prosecution lacks direct evidence and must rely on circumstantial evidence to demonstrate these elements.
There are some potential legal defenses an attorney can use in court.
The "unwitting possession" defense contends that even though drugs were discovered in the defendant’s possession, they were unaware of them. For example, a defendant borrows a friend’s car and gets pulled over. The car is searched, and the police find GHB in the glove compartment. The defendant was unaware of the drug’s presence because the car did not belong to them. Whether the prosecution alleges that they had actual or constructive possession of the drugs, it must show that the defendant knew the drugs were there and intended to use or control them.
Illegal search and seizure is another viable defense. If the police violated an accused's Fourth Amendment rights, incriminating evidence might be ruled inadmissible in court.
In rare instances, people with narcolepsy may be prescribed GHB. In this case, a defendant would have a valid prescription and legally can possess the substance.
Any program that employs techniques to avoid the more formal processing of a defendant by the justice system is referred to as a "diversion." The typical diversion program will aim to rehabilitate or treat the defendant as an alternative to criminal prosecution and imprisonment.
Diversion programs are used for nonviolent drug offenses. Adults who abuse drugs but are not violent are given the services they need by the courts to avoid prison and try to change their behavior. According to research, using these kinds of treatments instead of going to jail can lower crime, drug use, and recidivism. Different types of diversion and variations of diversion programs are offered in Florida.
The Florida Department of Corrections administers a diversionary program called the Felony Pretrial Intervention program (DOC). With the help of this program, first-time felons will have another option for removing their case from the trial court system. This program may be approved for a defendant accused of a third-degree felony. The PTI program can help criminal defendants escape the consequences of a conviction.
Drug Pretrial Intervention
The Drug Pretrial Intervention program (DPTI), targeted at first-time offenders who have been charged with drug abuse, aims to reduce drug use. This program assists defendants in receiving drug abuse treatment. The treatment length may vary depending on the circumstances and the defendant's needs. Still, Florida State law typically calls for a one-year supervision period. The felony charge will be dropped if the program is successfully completed.
Online Sunshine | Florida State Legislature – Online Sunshine is Florida’s official site with the most current statutes; § 893.13 details prohibited acts and the associated penalties.
Pre-Trial Intervention Program Manual | U.S. Department of Justice – The U.S. Department of Justice website provides a manual for Florida's pretrial intervention programs, which includes an overview of the program and eligibility criteria for defendants.
If you have been arrested for possession of GHB, it is best to secure the skilled legal representation of Galigani Law Firm. With years of experience, Alachua County defense attorney Dean Galigani can examine your case and build a strong defense plan designed to undermine the prosecution.
Reach out to the Galigani Law Firm today at (352) 375-0812 to schedule a free consultation. Attorney Galigani and his legal team accept clients throughout the greater Alachua County area including Gainesville, High Springs, Alachua, Archer, La Crosse, and Waldo.
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"Dean Galigani was supportive when my son was arrested for underage possession of alcohol..." - David