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Possession of Marijuana (Cannabis) Under 20 Grams – Miami Lawyer

Individuals in Miami-Dade County who are charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana/cannabis can end up facing serious penalties, including imprisonment, fines, probation, the loss of a driver’s license, and many others that make it difficult to pursue educational and career goals. Fortunately, there are a number of defenses that a criminal lawyer in Miami can raise in response to a charge of possession of marijuana.

What Constitutes Possession of Marijuana?

In accordance with Florida law, possession of marijuana involves a person who has ownership, management, or control of the substance.

Possession of marijuana can be one of two types:

  • Actual possession

Actual possession refers to when cannabis is found on a person’s physical body, in a container on a person’s physical body, or is within “ready reach” of a person and is under that individual’s control.

  • Constructive possession

Constructive possession occurs when marijuana is not on a person’s physical body, but is in a place over which a person has control or somewhere a person has hidden the drug. To establish constructive possession, the prosecution must establish that a person had control over the marijuana and a person knew that the drug was within their presence. These cases require proving more than the ability to touch the drug or a person’s proximity to cannabis. Constructive possession of marijuana charges in Florida can be either sole or joint. To prove that joint possession occurred, it must be established that multiple defendants had dominion and control over the substance.

No matter if a person is charged with actual or constructive possession, these concepts of possession often merely act as starting points in negotiations between your criminal defense attorney and the prosecution. Get help today.

What Knowledge Means in a Marijuana Case

One of the most commonly debated elements of Florida’s marijuana possession laws involves a person’s knowledge. The state is not required to prove that a defendant knew marijuana was illegal. Instead, to convict a person of marijuana possession, the state must merely establish that a person knew the substance was present. In situations in which a person attempts to argue that he or she should not be convicted of marijuana possession because of a lack of knowledge about the nature of the substance, it is up to the person being charged to establish through evidence that he or she lacked this knowledge.

Penalties Associated With Marijuana Possession

The penalties associated with marijuana possession depend on the amount of marijuana/cannabis that is involved. If a person is determined to have possessed less than 20 grams, then he or she can face a first-degree misdemeanor charge, with penalties of up to one year in jail and a maximum of $1,000 in fines. Some of the other penalties for marijuana possession include:

  • Damage to a person’s personal and professional reputation
  • Ineligibility for certain types of government employment
  • Ineligibility for Florida public housing
  • Ineligibility for Florida state financial aid
  • Obstacles involving state licensure programs

Marijuana Charges in Miami-Dade County

In 2015, Miami-Dade County decriminalized possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana. The county approved a plan that gives law enforcement officers the option to cite a person with a $100 fine or mandatory community service rather than perform an arrest. Citations of this nature, however, are not available if a person is determined to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if the person charged has committed a felony, a domestic violence crime, or any other type of violent crime.

It should be understood, however, that a person who possess 20 grams or less of marijuana in any other area of Florida will end up facing a first-degree misdemeanor.

If you are charged with a marijuana-related offense in Miami-Dade County or any other part of Florida, it is best to quickly obtain the assistance of a skilled marijuana possession attorney.

Defenses to Charges of Marijuana Possession

There are a number of ways to defend against a charge of cannabis possession and/or drug paraphernalia. Some of the most common types of defenses that are raised in these situations include:

  • Challenging the lawfulness of the searches, seizures, or traffic stops that led to the discovery of marijuana. In situations in which any evidence seized by law enforcement is the result of unconstitutional actions by those officers, the evidence is considered inadmissible in a court of law.
  • Defenses that challenge the state’s proof that a person is guilty of marijuana possession. Some of the most common defenses that can be raised in these situations include when the person charged was not in exclusive possession of the area containing the marijuana, the accused possessed the marijuana for a lawful purpose, and cases of entrapment.

The Possibility of Pretrial Intervention

Even when a person does not have any strong defenses to respond to marijuana charges, it is possible to obtain a dismissal of charges by enrolling in a Pretrial Diversion Program. These programs offer some people charged with a marijuana offense the opportunity to complete certain requirements within a specific period of time. If a person successfully completes this program, the State Attorney’s Office will then dismiss the pending charges.

In many situations, participation in a diversion program can be just as life-changing as having a conviction placed on a person’s criminal record, due to the social stigma attached. For this reason, it is in your best interest to discuss your various plea/trial options with an experienced Miami criminal defense lawyer before deciding on the outcome that works best for you.

Speak with a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer in Miami

If you are facing criminal charges in Miami for possession of marijuana, do not hesitate to quickly obtain the assistance of a Miami marijuana possession attorney. Contact Stroleny Law, P.A. today to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. We understand the numerous complications that can arise in marijuana cases, and we are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner.


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