While some states have moved to legalize marijuana, it is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance in Florida. Possessing any amount of marijuana in the state of Florida is considered a crime punishable law.
However, the laws vary when it comes to the amount that an individual does possess. There are still repercussions for possessing less than 20 grams, but they become stricter if you are found with more than 20 grams. Penalties can also be harsher for a possession with intent to distribute charge.
It’s important to know the laws surrounding possession of marijuana in Florida so you can appropriately defend yourself. From our team at Fletcher + Fletcher in St. Petersburg, here’s what you need to know about the Florida marijuana possession laws and legal processes.
Is it legal to possess marijuana in Florida?
As mentioned above, it is illegal in Florida to possess any amount of cannabis, unless you have a prescription for medical marijuana.
If you are found with less than 20 grams of cannabis, then you can be charged with a first degree misdemeanor.
This is punishable by:
- Up to one year in county jail
- A fine up to $1,000
If you are found with more than 20 grams, then you can be charged with a third degree felony.
This is punishable by:
- Up to five years in jail
- A fine up to $5,000
There are other penalties for marijuana possession that people do not always expect, such as revocation of your driver’s license. However, there are even penalties that may not be imposed directly in your court sentence.
These may include:
- Ineligibility for some forms of financial aid
- Interference with college applications
- Ineligibility for public housing
- Ineligibility for some government, or even non-government, employment
Actual Possession vs. Constructive Possession
Whether or not you were caught with the marijuana in hand can also affect your case. Florida law defines this as “actual” vs. “constructive” possession.
Actual possession indicates the marijuana was found in your hand, or that you were holding a container with marijuana in it. Actual possession can also include cannabis within “ready reach,” which means it was close enough for you to reach, and therefore under your control.
Constructive possession means that you were not actually holding the marijuana, but it was in a place over which you had “control,” or where you concealed it.
Though not impossible to prove, constructive possession can require more to prove you actually possessed the drug.
Defenses to Marijuana Possession in Florida
Here at Fletcher + Fletcher, we know that no one is perfect. No matter what you’ve been accused of, you deserve to be treated with respect, and you deserve lawyers who will support you.
That’s why we our St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys have spent our entire careers in criminal defense – fighting for people’s rights, defending their freedom, and protecting their future.
We’ve taken hundreds of cases to trial, including many marijuana possession cases.
Below are some common defenses that may be relevant to your case if you’ve been accused of marijuana possession.
1. Illegal search
In some cases, police officers do not have adequate rights to search an individual. Some reasons for this could include invalid search warrant, or even a complete lack of a search warrant. The search warrant could also be executed incorrectly. They also may have conducted an unlawful pat down, or they may have conducted an invalid K-9 search. These are only some reasons a search could be illegal.
2. Unlawful traffic stop or search
Much like other searches, traffic stops and searches must be substantiated under the law. Your case could be invalid, if the police lacked probable cause or responsible suspicion to conduct a traffic stop.
3. Miranda violations
Every American must be read their Miranda rights when they are arrested. If law enforcement officers did not advise you of the following rights, then you may have a case to defend your freedom.
These rights are: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you by the court.”
4. Lack of knowledge
In some cases, you may not have known the substance you possessed was cannabis. Your penalties may be waived in this situation, but your lack of knowledge will be tested.
Contact Fletcher + Fletcher St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
There are many defenses you can use in a possession of marijuana case. What you need is a dedicated law team that will listen to your story and stand by your side every step of the way. Here at Fletcher + Fletcher in St. Petersburg, FL, we go all in for our clients. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.