Pot, ganja, weed, hemp, Mary Jane,…no matter what you call Cannabis, it’s illegal in the State of Florida, and police officers are looking for it. Almost without exception, if you get pulled over in South Florida for any type of traffic violation, the cops are going to trying to gauge if they should check you and your car for drugs. That doesn’t mean they will, as they do still have to have probable cause, but after nearly two decades as a criminal defense attorney, I have seen it happen time and again.

There are two types of possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS). Actual possession occurs when the illegal substance is in suspect’s physical custody such as in his or her pants pocket. Then there is constructive possession which indicates that the suspect knows where the CDS is and is able to access it physically. One such example is if someone is pulled over and marijuana is found in the car’s ashtray.

Let’s talk about what happens to your driving privileges if you are convicted of any charge relating to marijuana or drugs. Your driving privileges will be automatically suspended for a period of at least 6 months, but less than 2 years. This applies whether you were charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. I have represented hundreds of people who have faced possession charges, so I know that the State of Florida takes drug possession of any type seriously.

The courts do not hesitate to go after those who are charged even with minor drug possession. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor marijuana drug possession (20 grams or less), not only do you stand to lose your driver’s license for up to two years, but you will also be unable to get a work permit, and possibly end up in jail for a year. This hardly sounds like a minor sentence for conviction of a “minor” offense, does it?

The State of Florida prosecutes individuals who are arrested for possession based upon several determining factors. They are as follows:

• 20 Grams or Less: Possession OR delivery of less than 20 grams is classified as a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 1 year in jail. This is assuming that one delivers a small amount and does not receive payment in exchange for that delivery.

• Paraphernalia: Possession of paraphernalia (pipes, bongs, etc) is also considered a misdemeanor and carries the same penalties (a fine up to $1,000 and/or 1 year in jail). This charge can be added to the charge associated with the drug itself.

• Over 20 Grams: Any delivery of over 20 grams OR sale of marijuana of up to 25 pounds is considered a felony. Once you reach this level, you could be facing 5 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

• 24 Plants or More: Possession of greater than 24 marijuana plants or any sale or cultivation of the plant within 1,000 feet of a school, park, daycare, etcetera, is punishable by fines up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to 15 years. Judges tend to hand out the maximum sentence for operating near these locations because they are areas in which children are present.

• Over 25 Pounds: If you are growing or selling marijuana over the amount of 25 pounds, you are considered to be “trafficking” an illegal substance. A conviction for trafficking will carry a mandatory sentence. This means that judges do not have the option of being lenient in their sentencing.

Consequently, if you have been charged with a possession charge, don’t hesitate to call my office for a free consultation. Many drug-related convictions can be avoided, and we may even be able to keep you out of court. Call (954) 967-9888 for a free consultation for your drug charge. You do have options.

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