You’ve Been Charged With Marijuana Possession, Now What Steps Should You Take?
By Matt Thompson
If you’ve been charged with possession of marijuana at a routine traffic stop or by a local authority in your Florida neighborhood, the good news is that your life is not over. The bad news is that you now need to hire a lawyer, educate yourself and take the proper steps to advocate for your defense and clear your record.
Despite the recent legalization of marijuana in northern states and the current push for medical marijuana in Florida–most notably by Central Florida attorney John Morgan–simple possession of marijuana continues to be illegal in Florida, with harsh penalties for those convicted.
Sadly, there are a number of adults, teens and even juveniles in Florida facing life-changing consequences due to a simple marijuana charge.
The fact is, possession of marijuana may seem like a harmless crime to some – but Florida shells out some pretty serious consequences to individuals convicted of the crime.What You Need to Know About Possession Charges in Florida
In Florida “Possession” is defined in one of two ways: actual or constructive possession.
Actual possession occurs when an individual has the marijuana directly on his or her person, such as in a shirt or pants pocket, or in personal property (a purse, backpack, etc.).
Constructive possession occurs if an individual is in the vicinity of the marijuana in question, and is therefore suspected to be involved in the acquisition and possession of the illegal substance by default.
A constructive possession charge can be dismissed with a solid criminal defense: It’s harder for the prosecution to prove, and requires the individual charged be evaluated for definite knowledge of the marijuana, with clear evidence he or she has or had access to the drug and knew their dealings with it were in fact illegal.Penalties for Marijuana Possession
There are a few different breeds of marijuana possession charges in Florida—each with their own possible consequences.
First Degree Misdemeanor: Possession of marijuana in the amount of less than 20 grams.
Misdemeanor Penalties: The misdemeanor penalties of marijuana possession could include any combination of the following:
- One year in jail
- One year of probation and/or
- Up to $1,000 in fines
Third Degree Felony: Possession of marijuana that exceeds 20 grams.
Felony Penalties for Marijuana Possession: If convicted of felony possession, you may face one or more of the following consequences:
- Five years in prison
- Five years probation
- Up to $5,000 in fines
Suspended Driver’s License: No matter what degree your marijuana charge carries (felony or misdemeanor), you’re at risk of losing your driver’s license for two years if convicted.Defense Against Marijuana Possession
If you have been arrested for–or charged with–misdemeanor or felony marijuana possession in Florida, it’s important you read through the possible penalties mentioned above.
Share your story with an attorney you trust and know that hiring a defense lawyer with a comprehensive understanding of the practical defenses against drug crimes can help you reduce your charge and possibly even keep your record clean.Illegal Search and Seizure
In many cases, it can be proved that authorities have in fact illegally coerced evidence from a home, vehicle or body search prior to a charge or arrest for marijuana possession.Lack of Knowledge
If you or the defense can testify that the substance in your possession was not known to be marijuana, or you lacked the knowledge of the illegality of the marijuana you possessed in FL, this defense can be applied.About Thompson Law, P.A. “A Florida Firm”
Thompson Law, P.A. is the independent firm of criminal defense attorney Matt Thompson.
Based in DeLand, FL, Thompson Law P.A. provides legal services in the areas of criminal defense family law to the Volusia County areas of Daytona Beach and DeLand, and Seminole County residents in Sanford, Lake Mary and surrounding areas.