Jacksonville Drug Possession Defense Lawyers
Experienced Representation to Fight Serious Charges
Florida has some of the toughest drug possession laws in the country. Even a misdemeanor drug possession has very serious penalties and can lead to a criminal record. More importantly, a conviction for possession of marijuana (even under 20 grams) can have a very serious effect on your life, because it carries a mandatory two year driver license suspension.
When you've been arrested, trust our Jacksonville drug crime attorneys at The Law Offices of Kate Mesic for the aggressive defense strategies you need. Call (904) 615-8950 today.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Possession in Florida?
*This is a basic chart of maximum penalties, please note every case is different, and you need a Jacksonville drug crime attorney to fully understand what you are facing.
|Offense||Level||Max. Jail Time||Max. Fine|
|Possession of Marijuana|
|20 grams or less||1st degree misdemeanor||1 year||$ 1,000|
|More than 20 grams||3rd degree felony||5 years||$ 5,000|
|More than 20 grams||3rd degree felony||5 years||$ 5,000|
|Less than 25 plants||3rd degree felony||5 years||$ 5,000|
|25 plants||2nd degree felony||15 years||$ 10,000|
|Possession of Drug Paraphernalia||1st degree misdemeanor||1 year||$ 1,000|
In Florida, most drug arrests are made for possession of marijuana (also known as cannabis) in the amount of 20 grams or less, leading to a charge of 1st degree misdemeanor. A lot of people don’t realize the important of having a good Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer by your side at such a difficult time. Marijuana is a wide spread drug and many young people are charged with this offense. Arrests are also made for other illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy and will lead to a 3rd degree felony charge.
Actual vs. Constructive Possession
It is important to understand what is considered possession under Florida law. Possession is defined as a person having control or person exercising the rights of ownership over an item.
Actual possession is when the person has physical possession of the controlled substance and has knowledge of the physical possession. For example, a person would have a baggy of marijuana in his pocket, and he put it there. Constructive possession comes into play when the drugs are in close proximity to the person and are under the person’s authority or control. This situation arises when the drugs are found in a person’s car.
If you are arrested for possession of marijuana, or any other illegal drug, you should be aware that just because you are close to the drugs without more evidence, it is not enough for a charge of possession of drugs. This is why when you are charged with a constructive possession case, it is important that you hire a criminal defense lawyer to carefully analyze your case and figure out if it a Motion to Dismiss should be filed based on circumstantial evidence.
How Does a Prosecutor Prove Possession of Marijuana?
Florida law requires prosecutors to prove all crimes beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt, this includes the crime of possession of marijuana or any other controlled substance.
The prosecutor must prove:
- That the accused person possessed a illegal drug on his person (actual possession);
- Must have evidence proving that the controlled substance was the specific drug alleged to be in the possession of the defendant; or
- The prosecutor must prove the defendant had knowledge of the presence of the drug that was within his control (constructive possession) GG v. State, 84 So. 3d 1162 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012.
Although the prosecutor does not have to show that the individual knew what kind of drug was in his or her possession, the prosecutor must prove that the individual knew the illicit nature of the item in his possession (that it was illegal). If you invoke your right to remain silent when asked about the item found on you or in your car, you have a better chance of avoiding a conviction. If you did speak to the police, your Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer will review your case to see if a motion to suppress the statements can be filed.
Defenses to Possession of Marijuana
Defenses that are specific to the crime of possession of marijuana are:
- Constructive possession – as discussed above, it would apply when the drugs are found in a place where several people had access to it. One example where the prosecutor did not meet his burden of proof in a constructive Possession of Marijuana case is when a person was pulled over while driving someone else’s car (friend’s for example) and the police officer found marijuana in the glove compartment. The prosecutor cannot prove his or her case unless the prosecutor can show that the person knew of the marijuana in the car.
- Lack of knowledge – under Florida Statute 893.101, there is an affirmative defense to the crime of Possession of Marijuana if the person can prove that he or she did not know that what you had was marijuana. Please note that this defense requires the accused person testify to the lack of knowledge that the substance was illegal.
- Overdose defense – under Florida Statute 893.21, if the accused person has a drug-related overdose and needs medical assistance, or a person who is assisting the person that needs medical assistance, is immune from prosecution for Possession of Marijuana, but it must be shown that the evidence was obtained as a result of the overdose and need for medical assistance.
The Impact of a Possession of Marijuana Charge
For maximum penalties associated with the charge of possession of marijuana please see the table above. A Jacksonville drug crimes lawyer can help you fight this charge and in some cases avoid the severe penalties associated with Florida drug possession charges.
When you cannot avoid a conviction, it can have a serious impact on your life and the life of your family. A consequence of any conviction is a criminal record and it will appear on any background check that is done for potential employment, rental applications, and many others. Another very serious consequence is the potential loss of your driver license that will take place if you convicted of possession of marijuana. This is why it is critical that you are represented by a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney who can help you figure out your option and reduce the maximum penalties when you are facing a possession of marijuana charge.
If you already entered a plea to a possession of marijuana under 20 grams or possession of drug paraphernalia (or both), and adjudication was withheld, The Law Offices of Kate Mesic can help you evaluate your options to see if you qualify for a sealing of your criminal record.
Call us today at (904) 615-8950 to schedule your free initial consultation.