Possession of Marijuana in Florida
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We are Criminal Lawyers who Fight Possession of Marijuana Charges in Florida
Under Florida law, possession of a controlled substance is the ability to exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over a dangerous controlled substance such as cannabis. Possession may be “actual” or “constructive” in nature.
Actual Possession means that the cannabis is in the hand of the person accused, or is in a container in the hand of a person, or is so close as to be within ready reach, and is under the control of the person accused. Mere proximity to a controlled substance such as cannabis is not sufficient to establish control over the substance when the substance is not in a place over which the person has control.
Constructive Possession means that the controlled substance is in a place over which the defendant has control, or in which the defendant has concealed it. In order to prove constructive possession, the prosecution must establish:
- The defendant’s control over the controlled substance, and
- The defendant’s knowledge that the controlled substance was within the defendant’s presence.
If a person has exclusive possession of a substance, such as cannabis, knowledge of its presence may be inferred or assumed. If a person does not have exclusive possession of the substance, knowledge of its presence may not be inferred or assumed.
Under Florida law, it is possible for two or more persons to be in “joint possession” of a substance, such as cannabis. In such a case, each of those persons is considered to be in possession of that article or substance. If a person has exclusive possession of a substance, such as cannabis or cocaine, knowledge of its presence may be inferred or assumed. If a person does not have exclusive possession of the substance, knowledge of its presence may not be inferred or assumed.
Proving Criminal Possession of Cannabis in Florida
In Florida, the prosecution is required to prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prove possession of under 20 grams of marijuana:
- The defendant possessed cannabis;
- The substance was cannabis (less than 20 grams); and
- The defendant had knowledge of the presence of the substance.
Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Florida
The penalty for a marijuana possession charge will depend on the amount of cannabis at possessed. Less than 20 grams of cannabis is a first degree misdemeanor with penalties of up to one (1) year in jail or one year probation, and a $1,000 fine.
In addition, the conviction for misdemeanor marijuana possession will result in a two (2) year driver’s license revocation, and probation with intrusive random drug tests. The defendant is also responsible for paying the costs of supervision, court costs, fines, costs of prosecution, and completing all other terms and conditions imposed by the court. Failure to complete any one of these conditions, or a failed or a missed drug test will result in a violation of your probation, issuance of a warrant for your arrest, and a likely jail sentence.
When a defendant is found guilty of possession of marijuana with more than 20 grams of cannabis, the offense is classified as a third degree felony with penalties of up to five (5) years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Possession of Marijuana Criminal Defense
Although the facts of every case will differ, cannabis possession is a highly defendable criminal charge. We attack the circumstances from the moment the encounter began by defending your 4th amendment rights. We challenge the legality of the search, detention, or traffic stop that led to the arrest or Notice to Appear. If a Motion to Suppress is granted the prosecution will be deprived of critical evidence required to prove their case. Without the cannabis as evidence the case will be dismissed, dropped, or the defendant will be acquitted.
Common 4th amendment challenges include: police lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop, detain, or arrest a defendant, invalid search warrant, execution of a search warrant, or a lack of a search warrant, invalid consent to a search, cannabis or marijuana was not in “plain view”, unreasonable investigatory detention, unlawful “pat down,” or “Terry” search, unlawful search incident to arrest, invalid dog sniffing search or unsubstantiated dog sniff alert, police exceeding the scope of search, 5th amendment Miranda violations, 4th and 5th amendment violations of right to counsel, police officer’s mistake of law leading to traffic stop or investigative detention, evidence tampering or destruction of evidence, chain of custody issues, lack of valid third party consent, and other illegal police activity.
Pretrial Intervention Programs for Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases (Under 20 Grams)
Even where no viable defenses exist to a possession of marijuana charge, it is often possible to obtain a dismissal of the charges by negotiating to enroll the defendant in a misdemeanor or felony Pretrial Intervention Program. These programs require a defendant to complete program requirements within a set time period. The State Attorney’s Office will drop the charges and the case is dismissed if the program is completed successfully.
Early Negotiation is Critical in a Misdemeanor Marijuana Defense in Florida
Early contact in the criminal process communicates competence, resolve, and establishes a rapport that may be needed during future negotiations.
We will make early contact with the prosecutor to present factual defenses, legal issues, and mitigating circumstances that may have a dramatic impact on the State’s decision to move forward against you.
We also happen to be Florida criminal law attorneys.
We can help you.
Our Florida criminal lawyers serve clients charged with Misdemeanor Marijuana Cases in Palm Beach County, Broward County, Miami Dade County, and most other Florida cities and counties.
We handle criminal law cases and possession of marijuana charges in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami Dade County and throughout Florida.
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