Possession of Marijuana Charges in Florida
Even though many states are working to decriminalize marijuana, it is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the state of Florida. Under Florida Law, it is a crime to be in possession of any controlled substance. This means that if someone does not have a valid prescription for medical marijuana, they could be arrested if they are found to be in possession of even a small amount of marijuana. Depending on the alleged amount of marijuana an accused individual possessed at the time of arrest, there could be misdemeanor charges filed, or even felony charges. Further, these types of arrests can be even further complicated, since hemp, which is legal in Florida, is difficult to differentiate from marijuana with high amounts of THC. Especially for law enforcement officers who may not have the proper training or tools to do so. Even when law enforcement genuinely believes they have correctly identified high THC marijuana, they may be wrong. If you have been charged with marijuana possession, you should consult with a skilled drug crime attorney, who will thoroughly investigate the facts of the case and work with you to formulate a defense strategy that will get you the most favorable outcome in your case.
How is “Possession” Defined?
The word “possession” can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. It is important to know how it is defined in the eyes of the law. Florida Statute defines “possession” as holding or having the ability to own, manage or control an item. If a person is found to be in actual or constructive possession of marijuana that is non-medicinal and/or not prescribed, they could face possession charges. Actual possession means that an accused person has the drug on their person at the time, or has it concealed within proximity to them. In situations like this, the defendant must be solely in control of the drug. Constructive possession, on the other hand, occurs not when the accused has the drug on their person, but has exclusive control of it in some other way or has hidden it somewhere not within proximity. For the State to prove constructive possession, they are required to prove that the defendant has control over the marijuana and has knowledge of where it is. Even further, if there are multiple people living in the same home, and one person is accused of marijuana possession, the other residents may also be charged. This is called joint possession.
The type of penalties someone faces is convicted guilty of possession of marijuana depends on how much of it they are found to be in possession of as well as in what form the marijuana is. Additionally, if the offense takes place within one thousand (1,000) feet of a school or other drug-free area, penalties are increased. In the state of Florida, possession of less than twenty (20) grams of marijuana is considered a first-degree misdemeanor. Some of the tentative penalties for this offense include up to one (1) year in jail, up to one (1) year of probation, and fines as high as $1,000. Possession of twenty (20) grams or more of marijuana, on the other hand, is classified as a third-degree felony. A person found guilty of this crime could be facing penalties such as up to five (5) years in prison, up to five (5) years of probation, and fines as high as $5,000. In cases where someone is found to be in possession of over twenty-25 (25) and less than two thousand (2,000) pounds, penalties could include up to fifteen (15) years in prison and fines as high as $25,000. Possession of two thousand (2,000) pounds, but less than ten thousand (10,000) pounds is punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison and fines as high as $50,000. If a person is found to be in possession of more than ten thousand (10,000) pounds of marijuana, they could be looking at as many as thirty (30) years in prison and fines up to $200,000.
Florida also considers hash and concentrates as Schedule I narcotics. Possessing these items can result in third-degree felony charges. Penalties can include up to five (5) years in prison and fines as high as $5,000.
Possession of paraphernalia is also punishable by law. It is considered to be a misdemeanor offense. Some of the penalties imposed are up to one (1) year in jail and fines up to $1,000.
Possession of plants is also a crime in Florida. The severity of the charge depends on the number of plants. Possession of twenty-five (25) plants or less is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and fines up to $5,000. Consequences for possession of two thousand (2,000) plants or more can leave a person facing up to thirty (30) years in prison and fines up to $50,000.
While misdemeanor convictions will still carry penalties, the punishments for felony crimes are much more serious. Prison time, fines, and probation are all monumental, but even after time has been served and dues have been paid, the felony on your record could stick with you forever. You could have issues in important aspects of life such as voting, child custody, employment, renting/buying property, and even more.
Is Possession of Marijuana Charges Defendable?
Being found guilty of a crime of any severity will have an impact on your life. This makes it imperative to have an experienced criminal defense attorney who truly cares about your future. Having a qualified, compassionate attorney representing you maximizes the chances of your charges being reduced or even dismissed completely. Attorney Rahul Y. Parikh will thoroughly examine all of the evidence in your case to determine the defenses that are most suited to your situation. Some plausible defenses to possession of marijuana charges include:
- Unlawful search and seizure
- Lack of knowledge
- Medical necessity
- Valid prescription
- Temporary possession
- Improper law enforcement training and/or tools
Let Us Fight for You! Going up against prosecutors, experts, witnesses, judges, and law enforcement officers is no simple task. These people have spent their entire lives training, studying, and participating in court proceedings. When an accused person tries to go it alone, they are running the risk of being railroaded through the process and ending up stuck with the harshest sentences possible. Attorney Rahul Y. Parikh is committed to defending his clients to the absolute fullest and ensure they are not getting the short end of the stick. He and his team will always work to make sure you are informed throughout the entire process. Being accused of a crime is already an extremely stressful situation. The team at Parikh Law, P.A. aims to remove as much of that stress from people’s shoulders as possible. Everyone deserves a fair shot. No matter how challenging a case is, Attorney Rahul Y. Parikh and his staff continue to make sure that clients get that shot. Do not let a mistake complicate and damage your life. If you or are loved one is currently facing any type of marijuana possession charges, we would love to hear from you. All initial consultations are free and absolutely confidential. Schedule yours today to see how we can assist you.