Due in no small part to our state's very tough marijuana possession laws, thousands of people face misdemeanor or felony-level drug charges in Florida every year. Many of those people aren't even residents, but are tourists that come to the state for spring break or to bask on our beaches.
Though it is illegal, it is common for some of the people that get out to enjoy nature or just unwind after a rough week to do so with the help of a bit of marijuana. That being said, if you are caught in possession of marijuana, you could be facing serious criminal penalties at the state level; a higher amount of actual marijuana or any cannabis or THC derivative or substrate could even lead to federal charges.
Protecting your rights and mounting a vigorous defense
According to NORML, a nationwide organization seeking to reform marijuana criminal laws, Florida has some of the toughest marijuana possession laws in the country.
Florida law states that possession of less than 20 grams of the drug could result in misdemeanor charges that could come with up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Anything between 20 grams and 25 pounds is felony-level, and might result in five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
In order to get a conviction on a simple marijuana possession charge, investigators and prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The material you were allegedly in possession of was in fact marijuana (as verified by chemical testing)
- That you knew - or should have known - that you were both in possession of the substance and that it was illicit/illegal
- That you were in control of the drug or the location where it was found
There are, of course, defenses to each element that the prosecution must prove to get a conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney will mount a vigorous defense on your behalf, arguing such things as:
- The search of your person, vehicle, home or other premises was unconstitutional
- The material in your possession wasn't actually marijuana or another illicit substance
- You had a valid medical prescription for the marijuana
- You didn't realize you were in possession of the substance (if you were driving a rental car or vehicle borrowed from a friend, for example, you might be able to prove that the substance was in the vehicle when you received it)
- You were entrapped by the police
Of course, other possible defenses may exist based on the unique facts of a case. Because there could be serious consequences for any conviction (including the criminal penalties themselves as well as lost educational, job, travel and housing opportunities), it is important to vigorously defend yourself with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.