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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 25961
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I was arrested and charged with a class 2 misdemeanor - Inhalation

Customer Question

I was arrested and charged with a class 2 misdemeanor - Inhalation of Gasoline. This is my first arrest of any kind. Do I need an Attorney to represent me with this case? I am in Florida. What are the possible outcomes?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

Here is the relevant portion of the Florida law under which you were charged:

877.111 Inhalation, ingestion, possession, sale, purchase, or transfer of harmful chemical substances; penalties.--

(1) It is unlawful for any person to inhale or ingest, or to possess with intent to breathe, inhale, or drink, any compound, liquid, or chemical containing toluol, hexane, trichloroethylene, acetone, toluene, ethyl acetate, methyl ethyl ketone, trichloroethane, isopropanol, methyl isobutyl ketone, ethylene glycol monomethyl ether acetate, cyclohexanone, nitrous oxide, diethyl ether, alkyl nitrites (butyl nitrite), or any similar substance for the purpose of inducing a condition of intoxication or which distorts or disturbs the auditory, visual, or mental processes. This section does not apply to the possession and use of these substances as part of the care or treatment of a disease or injury by a practitioner licensed under chapter 458, chapter 459, part I of chapter 464, or chapter 466 or to beverages controlled by the provisions of chapter 561, chapter 562, chapter 563, chapter 564, or chapter 565.

(2) It is unlawful for any person to possess, buy, sell, or otherwise transfer any chemical substance specified in subsection (1) for the purpose of inducing or aiding any other person to violate the provisions of subsection (1).

(3) Except as provided in subsection (4) with respect to nitrous oxide, any person who violates subsection (1) or subsection (2) commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

This is an offense for which a sentence of up to 60 days in jail may be possible, and/or a fine of up to $500. Although realistically speaking, if it's your first offense, you can almost certainly resolve this in some way that would allow you to avoid incarceration, there is more to worry about than just a jail sentence. You also potentially face having to carry this misdemeanor around as part of your permanent record.

Because criminal matters can cause lifetime repercussions and because taking the quickest or easiest way out of a jam can really come back to haunt you later on in life, you really should understand fully all of your rights and options before you make a decision. That is the reason that there's a Consitutional right to a criminal lawyer when you are a defendant on a criminal case. It's not an entitlement you should pass up lightly.

First offenses for something like this can frequently be resolved with some help-oriented disposition that may let you walk away from this without a criminal record. You should retain a lawyer to help you negotiate some kind of disposition along those lines and to maximize your damage control possibilities. If you cannot afford one, you can plead "not guilty" at your arraignment (the court date when you are first read your charges and ask how you plea to them), tell the judge you are without the funds to secure legal representation and ask him for a court-appointed lawyer.