Marijuana: Still Carries Harsh Penalties in Florida
Once again in 2016, Florida voters will decide whether to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, after missing the 60 percent required approval by a slim margin in 2014.
Across the US, states are moving toward allowing medical marijuana and decriminalizing pot for recreational uses. However, until the laws regarding marijuana possession and trafficking change, violators will still be subject to criminal penalties. If you’re charged with one of these drugs crimes, it’s important to understand the legal consequences for conviction.
To prove the crime of possession of marijuana in Florida, a prosecutor must show three essential elements:
1.You are holding marijuana, as opposed to some other legal substance;
2.You are aware that the drug is present on your person; and,
3.You have control over the pot. In other words, you have the power of the location and condition of marijuana. Questions of “control” may come up when the drug is not on your person, but is in your home, car or a bag.
Criminal Penalties For Possession
Holding an amount of pot equal to 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor, which may subject you to a $1,000 fine and one year in prison.
If you are in possession of more than 20 grams, the crime elevates to a felony and is subject to harsher consequences.
Marijuana possession of 20-25 grams can lead to five years and $5,000 fine, and penalties increase from there.
You can be sentenced to 15-30 years and $200,000 for amounts in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Possession With Intent To Sell
Otherwise known as drug trafficking, marijuana possession with intent to sell is a felony in most cases. A prosecutor must prove all of the elements of possession, plus facts that indicate you planned to sell or otherwise distribute the marijuana. Factors that might help the State’s case might be that you had plastic baggies or large amounts of cash along with the marijuana.
Criminal Penalties: Marijuana trafficking is also measured by the amount of marijuana in your possession when apprehended. If you have 25 pounds or more, you may be looking at five years’ jail time and a $5,000 fine. Punishment can reach 15-30 years’ imprisonment and a $200,000 fine if you are found guilty of possession with intent to sell.
The Florida legislature has not passed a law permitting medical marijuana, but the court system has established a defense of “necessity” in appropriate cases. This means that you can be arrested if you do use medicinal marijuana; however, you can defend your usage in court as a defense to the charges.
Contact A South Florida Criminal Defense Attorney
The harsh penalties for conviction of marijuana possession or trafficking are why it’s important to have strong legal representation after an arrest. If you or someone you know has been arrested for any drug crime in Ft. Lauderdale, Lauderhill, Hollywood or the surrounding areas in Broward County Florida, contact Drug Crime Attorney Gabriela C. Novo immediately for a confidential and free consultation.