Cannabis Laws in Florida
Under Florida Statutes section 893.13(6), possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis is a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties that may include jail, probation, and a driver’s license revoked. Under Florida law, possession of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, is defined as the ability to exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the thing possessed. Possession may be “actual” or “constructive” in nature. Under Florida Statute 893.02 (3) “Cannabis” means “all part of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether growing or not; the seed thereof; the resin extracted from any part of the plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plan or it’s seeds or resin.” (Florida Statute 839.02 (3)).
Actual possession means that the cannabis is in the hands of the person accused, aka: “caught red handed”, or is in a container in the hand of a person, or is so close as to be within immediate reach and control of the person accused. However, keep in mind, mere proximity is not enough to establish actual control when the substance is not in a place over which the person control.
Constructive possession is when the controlled substance is in a place over which the defendant HAS control, or in which the defendant has concealed it. In order for the prosecution to prove constructive possession the prosecution has to establish, 1) the defendant’s control over the controlled substance, and 2) the defendant’s knowledge that the controlled substance was within the defendant’s presence. If a person does not have exclusive possession of the substance, knowledge of its presence may not be inferred or assumed.
In Florida, for the State to prove possession of under 20 grams they must establish that the defendant possessed a certain substance, and that substance was cannabis, and lastly, that the defendant had knowledge of the presence of that substance. Any penalty available for a marijuana possession charge will depend on the amount of cannabis at issue. Where a defendant is found in possession of less than 20 grams, the offense will be classified as a first degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to one year in jail or one-year probation, and a $1,000 fine. A conviction for misdemeanor marijuana possession may result in a two-year driver’s license revocation, and a likely term of probation. If a defendant is found in possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis, they will be facing an offense classified as a third degree felony, with penalties, not limited to, up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Cannabis possession is a highly defendable case, and if you have been accused of possession of Marijuana, you may have defenses available to contest the charge or to minimize potential penalties. Call Smith & Eulo for a free consultation of your case 407-930-8912.