MARIJUANA POSSESSION OVERVIEW
EXPERIENCED FLORIDA MARIJUANA ATTORNEY
The crime of marijuana possession has increasingly come under attack with many states decriminalizing possession, and some even creating a legal market for the recreational use of marijuana.
Unfortunately, the state of Florida lags behind much of the country with respect to marijuana laws (and drug crimes generally). Though Florida allows for marijuana possession with a legitimate medical prescription, recreational possession is illegal. Thus, an arrest for marijuana is possible and you’ll need a Florida marijuana attorney.
MARIJUANA POSSESSION — PENALTIES VARY
Marijuana possession in Florida is charged as either a first-degree misdemeanor (for less than 20 grams) or a third-degree felony (for 20 grams or more).
Conviction for first-degree misdemeanor possession can result in up to one year in jail and suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years. Conviction for third-degree felony possession can lead to up to five years imprisonment (in addition to suspension of your driver’s license).
INTENT TO SELL
In Florida, prosecutorial authorities will often charge you with an “intent to sell” in the hopes of tacking on additional penalties. This is a strategic decision — ostensibly, if you are facing more severe penalties, you would be willing to negotiate an unfavorable plea agreement.
“Intent to sell” is not easy for the prosecution to prove, however. There must be evidence of that intent.
Evidentiary factors that may contribute to a finding of “intent to sell” include testimonial statements, the presence of distribution packaging (i.e., bags), the presence of weapons, and the presence of significant amounts of cash. If the prosecution has insufficient evidence to prove intent, you can pressure them to drop the charges.
DEFENSES TO A MARIJUANA POSSESSION CHARGE
Common defenses to a marijuana possession charge include…
NO KNOWLEDGE OF MARIJUANA POSSESSION
You cannot be held liable for possession of marijuana if you did not actually know of the presence of marijuana. This is fundamentally linked to the issue of control. For example, if your friend is riding in your car and accidentally drops a baggie of marijuana below the passenger seat, then you cannot be held liable for possession of that baggie, as you did not exercise control (unless the prosecution can otherwise prove you knew of its presence).
ILLEGAL POLICE STOP
If you are arrested due to police finding marijuana after conducting a police stop, you may be able to suppress the evidence on the basis that the stop was illegal. Florida law requires that law enforcement officers have a “reasonable suspicion” that you are committing a crime in order to detain you. This “reasonable suspicion” must be more than simply a hunch and requires particularized reasons for their suspicion. For example, if you are swerving in your car, then that may be reasonable suspicion of intoxication or drug use.
ILLEGAL SEARCH FOR MARIJUANA
Law enforcement officers normally require a search warrant in order to conduct a search of your property.
Exceptions include plain feel (i.e., they pat you down during a legal police stop and feel drugs or other paraphernalia on you), smell, and plain view (i.e., they see drugs or other paraphernalia through your car window). These will be sufficient to generate the probable cause necessary to search and seize.
VISIT OUR SARASOTA OR BRADENTON OFFICE FOR HELP
Fowler Law Group is a Florida-based criminal defense firm with extensive experience handling drug defense matters, including those that center around the possession of marijuana. Florida law is extremely strict with respect to marijuana possession — depending on how much marijuana is found in your possession, you could be charged with a felony and subjected to a long term of imprisonment.
It is critical that you seek experienced legal counsel at an early stage. Here at Fowler Law Group, our team is committed to working closely with defendants to identify potential avenues for minimizing or avoiding liability. Our Sarasota and Manatee County attorneys fight relentlessly on behalf of clients, pushing for favorable pre-litigation outcomes while maintaining an aggressive stance towards the possibility of trial.
Call us at (941) 900-3100 or send us a message online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with a skilled Florida marijuana attorney at our firm today.
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