The possession of marijuana is illegal in Florida, at least for the time being. While other states have moved to legalize the banned substance and the federal government continues to toy with the idea, it is still unlawful to possess any amount of marijuana in Florida unless you have been legally prescribed cannabis. If caught with less than 20 grams, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and face long term consequences. We will start with an explanation of the statute of Marijuana possession, then review the types of possession and potential defenses.
Florida’s Cannabis, Marijuana Possession Laws
Florida Statutes 893.13 makes it a crime to possess, manufacture, distribute, or sell any named controlled substance in the law. This includes marijuana, although the penalties for possession are more lenient than other drug possession charges. Still, possession of marijuana can do a great deal of damage to your future.
In order to prove the criminal charge of possession of cannabis under 20 grams, the prosecution must present evidence of:
- The illegal nature of the Marijuana: The prosecutor must show evidence that the controlled substance was in fact cannabis.
- Knowledge of the Marijuana: The prosecutor must prove that the person knew or should have known about the illicit nature of the marijuana and its presence.
- Control of the Marijuana: The prosecutor must show the accused had control over the location and presence of the marijuana.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Under 20 Grams
Possession of 20 grams of marijuana or less is considered a first-degree misdemeanor in the State of Florida and is punishable by up to one year in county jail,1-year supervised probation and a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, a conviction for possession of Cannabis will also result in the revocation of your driving privileges for six (6) months. (Florida Statute 322.055)
While possession of marijuana may not seem like a serious crime, having a misdemeanor conviction on your record can have very serious consequences. For one, you can lose your driver’s license. Also, the conviction will show up on any rudimentary background check which could hurt your chances of getting a job or moving into an apartment.
How is “Possession” Defined Under Florida Law
Possession is having, holding or exercising power or control over an item. They say that “possession” is nine-tenths of the law. In this case, they are correct. Police do not need to prove that you are the owner of marijuana found on your person, in your home, or in your vehicle. They need to prove that you knew that the marijuana was there. While this is not necessarily simple, saying that the marijuana “is not yours” will not be an adequate defense under Florida law. You will need to prove that you did not know about it. We often deal with three different types of possession – Actual Possession, Constructive possession and Joint possession.
Actual possession – marijuana is in your hand, in your pocket or so close to you that you have control over it.
Constructive possession – the marijuana is in place that you have control over or attempted to hide. To prove constructive possession, the government must show that you had control over the marijuana and that you knew the marijuana was there.
Joint Possession – this is where two or more people have control over the marijuana. Each person who is in control can be considered in possession of the same marijuana.
Defenses to Marijuana Possession
The Attorneys at Moses and Rooth will examine all the evidence including police reports, witness statements and video surveillance in order to examine the appropriate defenses for your case. Some of the potential defenses include:
- Mere proximity to the cannabis does not establish possession
- Temporary possession
- Knowledge is required. In actual possession the knowledge is presumed however in constructive cases the knowledge of the marijuana is not presumed.
- Fourth amendment violation due to unlawful search and seizure – this could be an unlawful search of your vehicle or an unlawful search of your pockets.
- Legally prescribed cannabis and in possession according to Florida marijuana prescription laws.
Talk to an Orlando Marijuana Possession Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana, you will want to fight these charges as hard as you can. The former prosecutors at Moses & Rooth can help defend you and prevent you from getting a criminal record from this victimless offense.
Florida Statutes 893.13 – marijuana Possession Statute
Florida Statute 322.055 – driver’s license suspension for drug conviction
Florida Statute 893.21 – overdose possession
Some Marijuana Street Terms:
Weed, Hash, Pot, Grass, Mary Jane, Dank, Chronic, Bud, Herb, Flower, Skunk, Rope, Green, Reefer, Ganja, 420, Blunt, Hay