Posted on Monday, November 1st, 2021 at 11:45 am
If you have been arrested for marijuana possession in Florida, you may be facing serious penalties in the event of a conviction. But depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have legal rights and options available to you so you can avoid the penalties and consequences of a marijuana possession charge.
When Can You Be Charged with Possession of Marijuana?
Possession of marijuana under Florida’s criminal law comes in one of two forms. Simple possession of marijuana occurs when a person possesses marijuana that is intended for personal consumption. Possession with intent to distribute occurs when a person possesses marijuana that they intend to transfer, sell, or give to another person. Possession with intent to distribute is usually presumed based on the quantity of marijuana that a person has in their possession when they’re arrested.
Simple possession of marijuana occurs when a person is found with 20 grams or less of marijuana. Simple possession is charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, carrying a maximum possible sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana results in a felony charge. The grading of the offense and the possible sentence vary based on the quantity of marijuana the person had in their possession when arrested.
In addition, felony possession may be charged if a defendant was found in possession of marijuana on or within 1,000 feet of a school or college property or a public park.
Potential Defenses to a Marijuana Possession Charge
You should not assume that you will automatically be convicted of marijuana possession. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may have defenses that can allow you to avoid conviction on a marijuana possession charge. Potential defenses include:
- You did not possess a product that contained marijuana – Individuals may have possession of CBD products that have small percentages of residual THC.
- You did not have legal possession – If you were not found in actual possession of the marijuana (i.e., the marijuana was found on your person), the prosecution may argue that you had constructive possession. This often occurs when marijuana is found in your home or a vehicle that you were sharing with others. In this case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had knowledge of the presence of the marijuana and the ability and intent to exercise control over it.
- You did not know that the substance you had in your possession was marijuana.
- You had possession of marijuana pursuant to a Florida medical marijuana use registration.
- Law enforcement found marijuana in your possession after conducting an unlawful search and seizure. This may occur when police initiate or extend a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Unlawful search and seizure could also occur if they enter and search a vehicle or a home without a search warrant or without exigent circumstances that legally excuse the requirement to obtain a warrant.
Finally, under Florida law, a person may be entitled to immunity from arrest or prosecution for simple marijuana possession when they seek medical assistance for themselves or for someone that is experiencing an alcohol- or drug-related overdose, where the evidence that would support such an arrest or prosecution was obtained due to the person seeking medical assistance.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Arrested for Possession of Marijuana?
If you are arrested for possession of marijuana, you can take steps that can help protect your legal rights and options. These steps include:
- Do not consent to a search. If you are stopped by police, they may ask for your permission to search your home or vehicle based on their hunch or suspicion that you may have possession of marijuana or other contraband. You have the right to refuse consent to a search.
- Remain silent. If you are arrested for marijuana possession, do not think that you can try to talk your way out of your arrest. Exercise your right to remain silent. Even if you want to try to explain that the marijuana found by the police “wasn’t yours,” you may only end up giving the police statements that can later be used against you in a criminal prosecution.
- Be respectful and do not resist. Although you may think that you are being unfairly targeted by police or that they are violating your rights by detaining or searching you or your vehicle or home, you should remain respectful towards the officers. You should not do anything that hinders the officers or attempt to physically resist arrest or flee, as these actions can be charged as criminal offenses separate from a possession of marijuana charge.
Contact Us Today for Help Facing a Marijuana Possession Charge
If you were arrested and charged with marijuana possession, call The Morris Firm at (850) 503-2626 for a free, no-obligation consultation to learn more about your legal rights and options for defending yourself against your possession charge.