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possession of marijuana florida statute

Possession of Marijuana in Florida

In Florida, it is a crime to possess any amount of cannabis without a prescription.

In Florida, cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance and it is a crime to possess any amount of cannabis without a prescription.

Importantly, cannabis concentrates, such as such as cannabis resin, cannabis wax, cannabis oil, hashish oil, cannabis budder, and cannabis crumble do not fall under the legal definition of cannabis in Florida and are prosecuted as a separate felony crime.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession

The penalties for marijuana possession depend on whether you are charged with possession of less than twenty grams of marijuana, which is considered misdemeanor possession, or possession of twenty grams or more of marijuana, which is considered felony possession.

Penalties for Possession of less than 20 grams of Marijuana

In Florida, the crime of Possession of less than 20 grams of Cannabis is a First Degree Misdemeanor and punishable by up to one (1) year in jail, one (1) year of probation, and a $1,000 fine.

A judge may sentence a person convicted of Possession of less than 20 grams of Cannabis to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of one year in jail.

Penalties for Possession of 20 grams or more of Marijuana

The crime of Possession of 20 grams or more of Cannabis is a Third Degree Felony and punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.

Possession of 20 grams or more of Cannabis is assigned a Level 3 offense severity ranking under Florida’s Criminal Punishment Code and a judge may sentence a person convicted of Possession of 20 grams or more of Cannabis to probation, but may also impose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of five years in prison.

Driver License Suspension

Pursuant to Florida Statute 322.055, any person convicted of Possession of Cannabis will have their driver’s license or driving privilege suspended for six months by the Florida DHSMV .

Defenses to Marijuana Possession

In addition to the pretrial defenses and trial defenses that can be raised in any criminal case, specific and common defenses to the crime of Possession of Marijuana are:

Cannabidiol (CBD)

Constructive Possession

If the cannabis was found in a place where more than one person had access, the prosecutor would have to comply with the law of constructive possession, which requires the prosecutor to prove the following two elements before you can be convicted of Possession of Marijuana: [2]

  1. Knowledge of the cannabis’ presence;
  2. Dominion and control over the cannabis.

Below are scenarios where it can be argued the prosecutor could not meet their burden of proving constructive Possession of Marijuana.

Scenario 1: You were stopped while driving a friend’s car and police found cannabis in the glove box, they would be unable to convict you of Possession of Marijuana unless they had some proof that you knew the cannabis was present.

Scenario 2: You were driving your car, had a friend with you, and your friend takes his personal stash of weed and places it at his feet. The police then stop you, see your friend’s stash, and arrest both of you. They should be unable to convict you of Possession of Marijuana because even though you knew the marijuana was there, your friend is the only person who exercised dominion and control over it.

Illegal Search and Seizure

More often than not, law enforcement exceed the scope of their authority and require people to submit to a vehicle, home, or body search; or they may coerce a person into agreeing to a search. If we can prove that either instance occurred, the courts will suppress the resulting evidence as having been illegally obtained.

Other suppression possibilities that may present themselves are: if law enforcement obtained a search warrant in bad faith or if you were arrested without probable cause.

Lack of Knowledge

It is an affirmative defense to the crime of Possession of Marijuana if you can prove that you did not know the substance in your possession was cannabis. Importantly, this defense requires you to testify to your lack of knowledge of the substance’s illegal nature. [3]

Medical Necessity

The defense of medical necessity can be used when a person suffers from a physical illness or ailment for which there was no lawful medication available to properly treat the illness or ailment and cannabis was the only substance that could relieve the pain or suffering of the person. [4]

Overdose Defense

A person who is experiencing a drug-related overdose that needs medical assistance, or a person assisting the person that needs medical assistance, is immune from prosecution for Possession of Marijuana if it can be shown the evidence was obtained as a result of the overdose and need for medical assistance. [5]

Prescription Defense

While it seems obvious, many people are arrested for possession of cannabis when they are unable to produce a medical marijuana use registry identification card that was valid at the time of arrest. These arrests usually occur when law enforcement have stopped you for suspicious behavior and discover the cannabis stored in a suspicious manner or without any proof of a validly issued medical marijuana card from the State of Florida.

However, if you can produce a valid medical marijuana use registry identification card that was issued prior to your arrest, the charge will be dismissed. [6]

Temporary Possession

The defense of temporary possession can be raised where a person takes momentary, temporary, or transitory possession of cannabis from the true owner. Under such circumstances, the person is not considered to be in legal possession of the cannabis because the person never exercised complete dominion and control over the cannabis. [7]

Examples of temporary possession are when a person is handed cannabis by the true owner and asked to hide it during a police encounter, such as a traffic stop; or when holding cannabis in the presence of a drug dealer for the sole purpose of verifying or testing the cannabis prior to purchasing it; or when passing the cannabis from the owner to a third person.

Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby

If you have been charged or arrested with the crime of Possession of Cannabis in Central Florida or the Greater Orlando area, contact Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer Richard Hornsby today.

The initial consultation is free and I am always available to advise you on the proper course of action that can be taken.

Possession of Marijuana in Florida In Florida, it is a crime to possess any amount of cannabis without a prescription. In Florida, cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance and it is a

Possession of a Controlled Substance

What happens after an arrest in Hillsborough County, FL, for POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE (DRUG9101)?

Defenses in drug cases often focus on the legality of the search or seizure of the drugs. If the search or seizure deemed to be unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, then the court might suppress the evidence.

If the evidence is suppressed, then the prosecutor is forced to drop the charges or the court can dismiss the charges because of a lack of admissible evidence. In other cases, the prosecution is not able to prove that actual or constructive possession actually occurred.

Many of these cases are eligible for disposition in drug court. Although the drug court program is a wonderful option for a person that needs help with an addiction, it is not for everyone. Many people are better off fighting the charges if the person doesn’t need treatment, the evidence was illegally obtained, insufficient evidence supports the charges, or the person is not guilty of the offense.

An experienced criminal defense attorney for drug crimes in Tampa, FL, can help you understand the pros and cons of each option so that you can make an informed decision and fight for the best result.

Attorneys for Controlled Substance Charges in Tampa, FL

If you have been charged with a serious drug crime such as possession of a controlled substance, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

Our attorneys represent clients in narcotic cases throughout Tampa and Hillsborough County, FL. After an arrest for POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE (DRUG9101), contact us to discuss the case.

Find out more about drug court and diversion programs that might be available in your case. Find out whether these programs are right for you or whether you might be better off fighting the charges.

Call 813-250-0500 today to discuss your case.

Penalties for Narcotic Charges in Florida

Florida Statute 893.13.6A makes it a third-degree felony to possess a controlled substance. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.

On the website of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the arrest inquiry will list the offense as POSSESSION OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE (DRUG9101).

In many of these cases, the charges are resolved in drug court or in a regular division for “drug offense probation.” Drug offender probation includes a drug evaluation and followup treatment and frequent urine testing.

More serious charges include possession with the intent to sell or drug trafficking.

Defending Men and Women on Drug Charges

Florida law heavily regulates the possession or use of controlled substances. It is illegal to possess, cultivate, sell, distribute or traffic in these substances.

Crimes for the possession of controlled substances are charged as a felony in Florida, except for the possession of “less than 20 grams of marijuana” which is charged as a misdemeanor.

Drug charges can be prosecuted in either federal or state court. For the most part, lower-level possession charges are prosecuted in state court. This article discusses the penalties and punishments in state court. The penalties and punishments under Federal law are different.

Types of Felony Drug Crimes in Florida

Other than marijuana, the most common drug crimes prosecuted in Florida include the following: cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, LSD, methamphetamines, and barbiturates.

Certain types of controlled substances are prescription medications that are possessed either with or without a valid prescription. Those substances can include Xanax, oxycodone, and Vicodin.

For possession of controlled substance offenses in Hillsborough County, these cases are often resolved in a drug court through a diversionary program. Other cases in drug court are resolved with a guilty or no contest plea.

A conviction for any drug offense, including possession of marijuana or more serious felony charges, will result in your driver’s license being suspended by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles for two full years. You are not even eligible for a hardship license during the first year.

Statutory Language for Drug Possession Charges
893.13 Prohibited acts; penalties.

(6)(a) It is unlawful for any person to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance unless such controlled substance was lawfully obtained from a practitioner or pursuant to a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his or her professional practice or to be in actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance except as otherwise authorized by this chapter. Any person who violates this provision commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

(b) If the offense is the possession of not more than 20 grams of cannabis, as defined in this chapter, the person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. For the purposes of this subsection, “cannabis” does not include the resin extracted from the plants of the genus Cannabis, or any compound manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such resin.

(c) Except as provided in this chapter, it is unlawful to possess in excess of 10 grams of any substance named or described in s. 893.03(1)(a) or (1)(b), or any combination thereof, or any mixture containing any such substance. Any person who violates this paragraph commits a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s.775.083, or s. 775.084.

(d) Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary of the laws of this state relating to arrest, a law enforcement officer may arrest without warrant any person who the officer has probable cause to believe is violating the provisions of this chapter relating to possession of cannabis.

This article was last updated by Jason D. Sammis on Friday, May 8, 2020.

Attorneys at Sammis Law Firm, explain the best way to fight charges for "possession of a controlled substance" in Tampa, FL, to avoid penalties.