Marijuana Possession Under 20 Grams in Florida
Marijuana reform is sweeping through the country, and many states are considering relaxing their criminal punishments for possession and use of small amounts of the drug. Colorado and Washington State have even legalized recreational marijuana use, permitting residents to possess and use marijuana with minimal restrictions. However, Florida residents still have to deal with fairly strict marijuana laws. Possessing even a small amount of pot can have serious immediate and long-term consequences.
What Does Florida Law Say?
Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis marijuana is obviously illegal in Florida, but what exactly does possession mean? This legal term actually has a fairly straightforward meaning: you have actual or constructive possession of the drug. In other words, you either have marijuana on your person, or you have control and knowledge of the illicit substance. According to Florida Statute 893.13, possessing 20 grams or less of cannabis is a first-degree misdemeanor offense.
Penalties for Possession
First-degree misdemeanors are criminal offenses, and state law allows for harsh penalties upon conviction. If you are convicted for a possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana, you could face the following penalties:
- A jail sentence not exceeding one year;
- A fine of up to $1,000; and
- Revocation of all driving privileges.
Regardless of how petty minor possession may seem, obviously these legal penalties can have a real, negative impact on your daily life. In addition to potential jail time, a steep fine, and losing your driver’s license, a misdemeanor conviction appears on your criminal record. Even a misdemeanor record can affect your future educational and employment opportunities. It is important to fight a possession charge with the goal of avoiding criminal penalties like those listed above.
Defenses Against Possession Charges
Possession charges in Florida are no joke. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors treat such charges seriously. However, this does not mean that you cannot defend against your charges. While every case is unique, there are some common defenses that may be applicable to your situation.
The prosecutor will be required to prove that you possessed marijuana, either on your person or constructively by knowingly having control over the illicit drug. It can be difficult to prove this, especially if you were around other people when the drugs were found. The prosecutor may not be able to prove that the marijuana did indeed belong to you, as opposed to your companions or other people close by.
Another potential defense involves your constitutional right against unlawful searches. Police cannot search you, your belongings, or your vehicle for no reason. The arresting officer in your case may have overstepped legal bounds when searching for drugs at the time of your arrest. Again, determining whether the police violated your rights depends on the specific facts in your case.
Former Prosecutors Now Defend Orlando Marijuana Cases
Even misdemeanor cases can quickly become complex, especially in drug possession cases. Given the potential for serious penalties if you are convicted, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for help. At Moses and Rooth, our defense attorneys are former prosecutors, and we fully understand the criminal law system. We will apply our knowledge of legal defenses to your case, and create a tailored strategy for you. Let us help you defend against your marijuana possession charge. Contact our Orlando office today and schedule a free initial consultation today.