Marijuana is one of the most widely-used illegal drugs in the United States, and Florida is no exception. Every day, alleged offenders all over the Sunshine State are charged with illegal possession of cannabis.
In many cases, people possess relatively small amounts of this controlled substance, resulting in the seemingly minor offense known as “simple possession.” Despite this nickname, the possible penalties for misdemeanor possession charges relating to marijuana can be quite serious and potentially cause a multitude of long-term difficulties for people who are convicted or plead guilty.
Are you facing charges of simple possession of cannabis in Florida? While a prosecutor might offer you reduced penalties in exchange for a guilty plea, you will want to be sure to have Terrezza Law review your case first.
Pensacola criminal defense attorney John Terrezza fights to achieve the best possible outcome with the fewest long-term consequences for clients in Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze, Milton, Navarre, and many surrounding communities. Call (850) 764-5291 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyer evaluate your case and discuss all of your legal options.
Florida Statute § 893.13(6) makes possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis a first-degree misdemeanor. A conviction is punishable by:
Marijuana possession in Florida can be actual or constructive. Actual possession involves cannabis being found on the alleged offender’s person, such as in the suspect’s hands, pockets, or any other area under the alleged offender’s direct and immediate control.
Constructive possession involves marijuana being in a place over which the alleged offender had control, such as in that person’s car, apartment, or locker. When a cannabis possession case involves constructive possession, the prosecutor needs to prove that the alleged offender not only had control over the area in which the marijuana was discovered, but also that the alleged offender knew about the presence of cannabis in that area.
Convictions for simple possession carry many other penalties in addition to incarceration, fines, and driver’s license suspensions. Alleged offenders could also be denied financial aid for college and be ineligible for certain licenses or occupations.
Not everybody who is charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana is taken into custody. In several types of misdemeanor cases in which police believe alleged offenders do not pose any “flight risk," authorities may issue a notice to appear.
Notices to appear do not look all that different from common traffic tickets. This misconception often leads many alleged offenders to believe that the charges are not terribly serious and their cases can simply be resolved by paying a fine through the mail.
As Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.125 notes, however, “Unless indicated otherwise, notice to appear means a written order issued by a law enforcement officer in lieu of physical arrest requiring a person accused of violating the law to appear in a designated court or governmental office at a specified date and time.” If alleged offenders who received notices to appear fail to show up in court, the courts will issue warrants for their arrests.
The good news about a notice to appear is that a skilled attorney may be able to seek a quick dismissal of the charges against the alleged offender. Such notices are commonly issued against people with little to no prior criminal record, usually leading to charges being dropped or relatively quick clearance for participation in a pretrial diversion program.
Marijuana Anonymous (MA) — While many people can use cannabis without becoming addicted to it, there are still some who do end up becoming dependent upon marijuana. MA identifies itself as “a fellowship of men and women who share our experience, strength, and hope with each other that we may solve our common problem and help others to recover from marijuana addiction.” Through the MA website, you can view literature and also find MA Video Chat Meetings which allow users to listen to and see other addicts without having to appear on camera.
Marijuana Arrests by the Numbers | American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — The ACLU is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that claims its analysis shows marijuana arrests account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States. This slideshow features some astonishing statistics about the nation’s cannabis arrests. You can also view material related to mass incarceration, drug testing, and racial disparities in criminal justice.
If you were arrested for the alleged possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis in Florida, it will be in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Terrezza Law represents clients who have been accused of all sorts of marijuana offenses and fights to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Pensacola criminal defense attorney John Terrezza defends people charged with drug crimes in Okaloosa County, Walton County, Santa Rosa County, and Escambia County. You can receive a complete review of your case during a free consultation as soon as you call (850) 764-5291 or fill out an online contact form.