After spending six years as a prosecutor and four as a criminal defense lawyer, I’ve seen my fair share of cases concerning marijuana possession and usage in Florida. Here are the top five things to know about Florida’s marijuana laws.
- If a police officer catches you with a small amount of marijuana (fewer than 20 grams) and you do not have a criminal record, you may not be arrested. The police officer has the option of giving you a “notice to appear,” which means that instead of being taken to jail, you will simply be given paperwork instructing you to appear in court on a specific day. However, in a large majority of Florida counties, marijuana possession constitutes a criminal offense and will become part of your criminal history even if you were not arrested.
- If you have prior convictions for marijuana possession and are caught with the substance again, there is a possibility that the prosecutor and/or judge will attempt to send you to jail or adjudicate you so that you lose your driver’s license for a year. Do not make the assumption that marijuana’s legal status in many states means that you will not be punished for marijuana possession here in the Sunshine State, where it is still illegal.
- If you are found with more than 20 grams of marijuana, the State of Florida will prosecute you for a 3rd Degree Felony. The maximum penalty for this type of felony is five years in Florida State Prison.
- If you are on probation for a criminal charge and test positive for marijuana, you may face jail time as a result. If you are on probation for a criminal charge, I strongly encourage you to abstain from any controlled substances, including marijuana, during that time. If you test positive for marijuana, a judge will assume that you are not taking probation seriously and may find that jail or prison is a better place for you.
- Public opinion is changing on marijuana, and juries are becoming more forgiving on these types of charges. The legality of marijuana and the topic of medical marijuana have been big news here in Florida and around the country during the last few years, and in my experience, juries today are somewhat hesitant to convict people for marijuana possession. This does not mean that each and every marijuana case should necessarily be taken to a jury trial. However, in some circumstances, having a jury hear your case and determine whether you are guilty is a good choice. Remember to seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you think that you may want to take your case to trial.
If you have questions about your Florida marijuana case, feel free to call my office at (407) 415-9626. The Law Office of Jeremiah D. Allen, P.A