Possession of Marijuana
St. Petersburg Marijuana Possession Lawyer
If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana in the Tampa Bay Area including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas County, Tampa, Hillsborough County, or surrounding counties, contact the Morris Law Firm, P.A.. Let Melinda Morris help you understand more about your legal options and how to overcome the drug charges you face.
What is Marijuana Possession?
Marijuana is one of the most frequently used substances in Florida, but actual or constructive possession of marijuana or cannabis can result in misdemeanor or felony criminal offenses. Marijuana can also be commonly known as pot, weed, ganja, bud, chronic, reefer, hydro or cannabis.
An individual may also be charged with marijuana possession if they possess any part of the Cannabis plant, including the stems, leaves or seeds. However, possession does not include resin from the marijuana plant, any mature stalks of the Cannabis plant, or any sterilized seeds incapable of germination.
Definition of Possession in Florida
In order to convict an alleged offender of marijuana possession in Florida, the state prosecutor must demonstrate they had actual or constructive possession of the marijuana. The prosecution is required to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt in order to achieve a conviction. If the prosecutor cannot show the alleged offender had either actual or constructive possession of the substance, their charges may be reduced or even dismissed.
An individual can have actual possession of marijuana if they have actual, physical control of the marijuana. This can be anywhere on their body, in their pocket, in their wallet, or in their purse.
Constructive possession is generally harder for the prosecutor to prove and typically involves the following three factors:
- Whether the alleged offender was aware the marijuana was in their presence and it was an illegal substance;
- Whether the alleged offender was able to take actual possession of the marijuana; and
- Whether the alleged offender had the intent to actually possess the marijuana.
An example of constructive possession would be if a law enforcement officer found marijuana in a car where the alleged offender was a passenger and they had access to the marijuana.
Florida Law on Possession of Marijuana:
According to Florida Statute §893.13, an individual can be charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana if they have actual or constructive possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
If an individual has actual or constructive possession of 20 grams or more of marijuana, they can be charged with felony possession of marijuana under section 893.13 of the Florida Statutes.
Florida Statutes §§ 775.082, 775.083 and 775.084 define the penalties and punishments associated with marijuana possession offenses in St. Petersburg and throughout Florida. Although the following statutory penalties are the suggested punishments for marijuana possession, they can increase depending on the amount of the marijuana, whether a weapon was present or used during the commission of the offense, where the substance was sold and/or whether the alleged offender has any previous criminal history.
- A conviction for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is punishable as a misdemeanor of the first-degree offense, which can result in a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine not more than $1,000.
- A conviction for possession of 20 grams or more of marijuana is punishable as a felony of the third-degree offense, which can result in a prison sentence up to five years and/or a fine up to $5,000.
Additionally, an individual convicted of a possession of marijuana offense will face a driver’s license suspension or revocation for at least two years, additional fines, probation, an inability to pursue certain jobs or occupations, ineligibility to apply for certain education opportunities, a criminal record, and/or community service.
Issues / Potential Defenses:
Although a conviction for marijuana possession in Florida can result in very serious repercussions and punishments, the state prosecutor must first prove the alleged offender was guilty of committing every element to marijuana possession beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden is very high and difficult to meet, as there can be a variety of defenses or mitigating factors that will cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. A few of these defenses and factors can include:
- Constitutional violations;
- Entrapment by law enforcement officers;
- Illegal search of the alleged offender’s home, person or car;
- Insufficient evidence to prove the criminal charges;
- Lack of knowledge or intent to commit the alleged offense;
- Law enforcement procedural violations;
- Law enforcement’s failure to properly give Miranda Warnings; and/or
- No actual or constructive possession of the marijuana.
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana throughout the Tampa Bay area of Florida, it is important to hire an experienced marijuana charges attorney who will make every effort to create the best possible defense to the allegations against you.
What To Do Next:
If you have been arrested:
1. Don’t speak to the police – ask to have an attorney present.
2. Don’t give a written statement – again, ask to have an attorney present.
3. Contact an attorney immediately.
4. Collect and document your own evidence.
Morris Law Firm, P.A. | Tampa Bay Possession of Marijuana Attorney
If you have been arrested for Marijuana Possession, contact a St. Petersburg marijuana defense attorney to discuss possible defenses and specific strategies that may exist in your case. Call the Morris Law Firm, P.A. at (727) 388-4736 to discuss your case directly with an attorney, or fill out our online form to be contacted for a Free Initial Consultation. The Morris Law Firm, P.A. can help and has specific knowledge and experience in defending Marijuana Possession offenders throughout Pinellas County and the entire Tampa Bay, FL area. This includes St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Hillsborough, Pasco, Bradenton, Manatee, and Sarasota.