Marijuana Possession and Trafficking: Still Crimes in Florida
As in many states across the country, the debate over whether to decriminalize medical marijuana continues in Florida. The Palm Beach Post recently featured a story detailing the positions of different experts on the topic, as Florida residents will vote on legalization of medical marijuana – a.k.a., Amendment 2 – in the upcoming election. However, until the laws regarding pot possession and trafficking change, violators will still be subject to severe criminal penalties for drug crimes in Florida. If you’re charged with an offense related to marijuana, here’s what you need to know about the law and the consequences.
Under Florida law, the prosecuting attorney must prove three things to support a conviction for marijuana possession:
- You are in possession of the controlled substance of marijuana;
- You have knowledge that the substance you’re holding is marijuana; and,
- You are in control of the substance, whether because it’s on your person or in a location that you control. For instance, the pot may be in the purse that you’re carrying or in the car that you’re driving.
Penalties for Marijuana Possession
If you’re found to be in possession of less than 20 grams of pot, you may be convicted of a misdemeanor. A judge may sentence you to up to one year in prison and a maximum fine of $1,000. Marijuana possession in an amount greater than 20 grams is a felony, which is subject to more severe penalties. Marijuana possession of 20-25 grams can result in a prison sentence of up to five years and a $5,000 fine. Plus, repeat offenses of any amount of pot can subject you to stiffer sentencing.
The term “trafficking” refers to marijuana possession with the intent to sell, and it’s a felony offense in most cases. A prosecuting attorney must prove the three element of possession mentioned above, plus, additional facts that demonstrate your intent to deal the drug. These facts might include having a large amount of cash on your person, or being in possession of certain types of paraphernalia, like plastic baggies and scales for weighing.
Sentencing for marijuana trafficking also depends upon the amount of pot in your possession when arrested. If you have 25 pounds or more marijuana with the intent to sell, the penalties could be up to five years in prison, plus a maximum $5,000 fine. For larger amounts and repeat offenses, punishment can be as high as 15-30 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to $200,000.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale About Your Case
Considering the harsh penalties for violating Florida’s laws on marijuana possession and trafficking, you can see that it’s critical to have a qualified attorney on your side. Kevin J. Kulik is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will protect your rights under the law and present defenses to help you get the best possible outcome. Contact the office of Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.