Pensacola Defense Lawyers

Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Florida

Posted on Monday, January 20th, 2020 at 1:04 pm    

If you’re like most adults over the age of 18, you’ve heard about “marijuana decriminalization.” Essentially, decriminalization means that if someone is caught possessing marijuana for personal consumption for the first time, they will not be arrested, they won’t be sent to jail or prison, and they won’t acquire a criminal record.

Some of the states that have fully or partially decriminalized marijuana include California, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Vermont, Mississippi, Connecticut, Maine, and Maryland. Florida however, is NOT on the list and one of the main reasons for this is that Florida, like Texas, has a significant drug trafficking problem.

Florida is a Gateway for Illegal Drugs

“Florida’s proximity to drug-producing and transshipment countries and its well-developed transportation infrastructure make it an ideal gateway for the movement of both licit and illicit goods into and through the United States. Drug transporters frequently use maritime vessels, commercial and private aircraft, and package delivery services to smuggle illicit drugs into Florida.

“They also use commercial trucks and private vehicles and, to a lesser extent, buses and railcars to transport drugs into the state. Many of these conveyances also are used to transport illicit drugs from Florida to other states and cities–particularly New York and Atlanta–that serve as major transportation hubs and distribution centers for various illicit drugs,” according to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Florida Drug Threat Assessment.

In light of the above, marijuana possession is still illegal in Florida, unless they are a Florida resident who holds a Florida medical marijuana card and possess only what they’ve been prescribed (like any other prescription). For those who do not have a marijuana card, the penalties for marijuana possession in Florida are as follows:

  • Possession of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000.
  • Possession of more than 20 grams to 25 pounds is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $5,000.
  • Possession of more than 25 pounds but less than 2000 pounds is a felony, punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison and by a fine not to exceed $25,000.

Are you facing marijuana charges? If so, we urge you to contact the Morris Firm at once to schedule a free consultation. With extensive experience defending marijuana cases, we stand ready to fight zealously on your behalf.


Can a Florida DUI Lead to Deportation?

Posted on Monday, January 6th, 2020 at 1:03 pm    

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is the one crime that is commonly committed by non-criminals. Meaning, people who don’t have a previous criminal history or who don’t typically engage in criminal behavior. As such, we often see normal people get arrested for DUI, including mothers and fathers, teachers, doctors, retail associates, salespeople, and other average folks. We also see Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents) arrested for DUI.

For the purposes of this article, we discuss what happens when a permanent resident is convicted of DUI in Florida, and whether a DUI conviction can lead to removal proceedings, which used to be called “deportation.”

Criminal Convictions & Removal Proceedings

When immigrants come to the United States to live for an extended period of time or to eventually become U.S. citizens, they are expected to be responsible members of our communities. When a Green Card holder violates U.S. state or federal laws, it can jeopardize their lawful permanent resident status. Since most Green Card holders are well-aware of this fact, it’s natural for them to wonder if a DUI will lead to deportation.

Does a DUI conviction automatically lead to removal proceedings? No, not necessarily but it depends on the facts of the case. Generally, a first-time DUI offense under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes will not trigger removal proceedings. However, that is not guaranteed. It can happen.

Under the following circumstances, a Florida DUI can be viewed negatively by an immigration judge and initiate removal proceedings:

  • It was a felony DUI offense;
  • It was a drug-related DUI, for example, the Green Card holder was driving under the influence of marijuana, methamphetamines, or another controlled substance;
  • The Green Cardholder was previously convicted for a drug-related offense;
  • The Green Cardholder has previous DUI convictions on their record; OR
  • The Green Cardholder has a criminal history and this DUI is the final straw.

To learn more about deportable offenses under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), click here.

As a general rule, if the Green Card holder has no criminal history, it was a first DUI offense (not drug-related), and there were no aggravated circumstances (no children in the vehicle and no one was hurt), the DUI should not trigger removal proceedings.

On the other hand, if the Green Card holder is charged with felony DUI, or if it’s a drug-related DUI, or if the defendant has a criminal history, the DUI could lead to deportation. It’s fact-specific and handled on a case-by-case basis.

We hope this article cleared up any questions that you have. If you’re looking for DUI defense representation, don’t hesitate to contact the Morris Firm for a free case evaluation by calling (850) 427-6514.