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What is the maximum penalty for drug sales in Florida?

Drug sale is a serious crime that carries significant legal consequences in Florida. The state has some of the toughest drug laws in the country, with severe penalties for those who are found guilty of selling drugs. The maximum penalty for drug sales in Florida can vary depending on several factors, including the type and quantity of the drugs involved, the defendant's prior criminal history, and the presence of aggravating factors such as weapons or minors. In this article, we will explore the maximum penalty for drug sales in Florida, as well as the legal process for addressing drug sales charges and potential defenses that may be available.


Under Section 893.13(1)(a) of the Florida Statutes, it is illegal to "sell, manufacture, or deliver, or possess with the intent to sell, manufacture, or deliver, a controlled substance," such as cannabis or cocaine.

  • Depending on what kind of substance is involved, breaking this law can be a second or third-degree felony. Cannabis (a Schedule 1 substance) is a third-degree felony if you have it with the intent to sell, make, or give it to someone else. Cocaine (a Schedule 2 substance) is a second-degree felony if you have it with the intent to sell. So, depending on the facts of the case, a person accused of a crime could get as much as five or fifteen years in prison.

  • To prove that someone was in possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, make, or give it to someone else, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

The defendant had a certain substance with the intention of selling, making, or giving it to someone else. The substance was a controlled substance, as defined in Section 893.03 of the Florida Statutes, and the defendant knew about it.

Under Florida law, to "sell" something means to give it to someone else in exchange for money, something of value, or the promise of money or something of value.

  • "Possession" means that the accused had personal control over the thing possessed or used the right to own, manage, or control it. Visit our Possession of Cannabis page for a more in-depth look at the difference between actual and constructive possession.

Penalties for Possession of Illegal Drugs

The severity of drug possession-related penalties depends entirely on the number of drugs found in a person’s possession. List of drug charges & penalties:

  • More than 10 grams of any Schedule I drug is a 1st-degree felony

Penalty: up to 30 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000

  • More than 10 grams of any other CDS is a 3rd-degree felony

Penalty: up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000

  • Up to 20 grams of marijuana is considered a 1st-degree misdemeanor.

Penalty: up to 1 year in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.

  • More than 20 grams is a 3rd-degree felony

Penalty: up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Here are some common illegal drugs and the minimum weight at which you can be charged with trafficking:

  • Marijuana: 25 pounds or 300 plants;

  • Cocaine: 28 grams;

  • Hydrocodone: 14 grams;

  • LSD (acid): 1 gram;

  • MDMA (ecstasy): 10 grams; and

  • Oxycodone: 7 grams.

Depending on the drug, the minimum sentence is 3 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine. The maximum sentence is life in prison without parole. Even if you don't sell the drugs, if you have more than the legal limit of CDS, you could be charged with drug trafficking.


In most drug possession cases in Florida, the person accused did not plan to sell or give away the drugs. In simple possession cases, the "intent to sell" charge is often added to "trump" up the charge, scare the accused, and get a harsher plea.

If the prosecution insists on a higher charge for possession with the intent to sell, they can use any number of pieces of evidence to prove it, such as:

  • Large amounts of cash in or near the building or vehicle where the illegal goods were found

  • Baggies and other packaging that is consistent with drugs and drug sales

  • Other items like scales, rolling papers, balances, testing kits, and mixing devices

  • There are weapons around

  • Admittance of guilt by the accused and people close to the accused

  • The kind and amount of drugs that were found

Most of the time, the things the prosecution uses as proof that the person had the drug with the intent to sell are also consistent with personal use. Some of the items found on the property may also have a "dual use," which is not against the law. Also, it might be hard for the prosecution to show that the accused was in fact in possession of all the items that showed a plan to sell.


In many Possession with Intent to Sell, Make, or Deliver cases in Florida, there are strong factual defenses that can be used to fight a charge. Because of this, a lawyer can often work with the State to change the charge to simple possession. If the State

can't prove that the person was in possession, the whole case will fail and be thrown out.

Even if there are no good defenses, there may be a reason to question whether the police search or seizure was legal. This is done by filing a "Motion to Suppress" with the court. If the Motion to Suppress is granted, the State could lose important evidence that it needs to prove the case. This could lead to the charge being dropped or the case being thrown out.


If you are accused of Drug offenses, you may have ways to fight the charge or avoid the harsh penalties that come with a conviction. Here at the Arroyo Law Firm, we offer complete defense services and inexpensive payment plans to help offenders defend their rights. For a free case evaluation, reach out to us online or by phone at 407-770-9000. Knowing your alternatives won't cost you anything, even if you decide not to hire us.

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