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Possession of Cannabis Lawyers in Orlando, FL

Attorney Insight on Possession of Cannabis in Florida

The issue of cannabis possession is particularly nuanced in the state of Florida, where both medical marijuana and hemp are legal under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, the possession of cannabis without proper authorization can result in criminal penalties. These penalties vary depending on the amount possessed, the intent, and any previous criminal records, among other factors.

Florida law distinguishes between medical cannabis, which is legal for qualified patients, and recreational cannabis, which remains illegal. Understanding the difference and the legal limits is essential. Medical cannabis is regulated under the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Amendment 2. Recreational use or possession can result in various penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Understanding the Elements of Possession of Cannabis in Florida

Florida’s laws surrounding cannabis possession are detailed and specific. The penalties one could face depend on fulfilling certain elements of what constitutes unlawful possession. Under Sec. 893.13 of the Florida Statutes, particular criteria need to be satisfied for someone to be convicted for the possession of cannabis. Below, we dissect these elements to help you understand the intricacies of this statute.

Elements Required to Prove Possession

Standard Elements Across Possessions

  1. Knowingly Possessed: The prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly possessed cannabis. Ignorance or lack of awareness of the cannabis can sometimes serve as a defense, although this is generally difficult to prove.
  2. Unlawfully Obtained: The cannabis must not have been lawfully obtained through a qualified medical practitioner or via a valid prescription under Florida’s medical marijuana laws.

Elements for Possession of Under 20 Grams

According to the Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases (Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim) 25.7), three elements are specifically required to prove possession of under 20 grams of cannabis:

  1. Actual or Constructive Possession: The defendant must have either actual or constructive possession of the substance. ‘Actual’ possession means physically holding or carrying, while ‘constructive’ possession means having control over the location where the cannabis is found.
  2. Substance is Cannabis (Less Than 20 Grams): Lab tests, witness testimony, or other evidence must confirm that the substance in question is indeed cannabis, and its weight must be under 20 grams.
  3. Knowledge of the Substance: The defendant must have been aware that the substance they possessed was cannabis. This element rules out cases where someone may have been unknowingly carrying or storing the cannabis.
  1. Knowingly: Having awareness or conscious possession or control of something. It is one of the most challenging elements for the prosecution to prove.
  2. Actual Possession vs. Constructive Possession: ‘Actual’ refers to having the cannabis on your person, for example in your hand or in your pocket. ‘Constructive’ refers to having it in a place over which you have control, like your car or your home.
  3. Valid Prescription: To lawfully possess medical cannabis, one must have a recommendation from a qualified physician and must purchase the cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

Penalties for Possession of Cannabis in Florida

The penalties for cannabis possession vary depending on the amount involved. These penalties, as defined by Florida statutes, can range from monetary fines to imprisonment. The following chart details these penalties:

Amount of Cannabis Charge Maximum Penalty
More than 20 Grams Third-degree felony 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine
20 Grams or Less First-degree misdemeanor 1 year of jail or probation, and a $1,000 fine

The charge carries a severity level of 1 (or 4 points) under the Criminal Punishment Code. Assuming there are no aggravating circumstances (such as prior criminal convictions), there is no minimum mandatory sentence. This means that even though the judge can sentence you up to the maximum allowed sentence, the judge is not required to order any amount of prison time.

Moreover, under Sec. 322.055, Florida Statutes, the court is required to suspend your driver’s license for 6 months if you are convicted of Possession of More Than 20 Grams of Cannabis. However, the court may allow you to obtain a restricted business-purposes-only license if warranted by a “compelling circumstance.”

While most people are aware that possession of cannabis can lead to criminal charges, fewer may realize the full extent of the penalties that can accompany a conviction. In addition to legal consequences like fines and imprisonment, a myriad of secondary ramifications can severely impact various aspects of your life. Below is a comprehensive list of these additional repercussions that may accompany a conviction for cannabis possession in Florida.

Driver’s License Suspension

A conviction can result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. This can severely limit your mobility and ability to handle daily activities like commuting to work or school.

Probation

If the infraction is deemed probationary, then the defendant will be subject to extensive random drug tests. Additionally, the defendant will be financially responsible for the costs of supervision, court fees, fines, and prosecution charges.

Education Impact

Ineligibility for Scholarships and Financial Aid

A conviction can make you ineligible for Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarships and may affect other forms of financial aid. This can have long-term implications for your educational aspirations and career prospects.

Employment Consequences

Ineligibility for Government Jobs

Certain government jobs may be off-limits to individuals with a cannabis possession conviction on their records.

General Employment Obstacles

Many employers conduct background checks, and a drug conviction can result in missed job opportunities or even termination from current employment.

Certification and Licensing

State Licensing, Permit, and Certification Issues

Unauthorized interference can occur with state licenses, permits, and certifications unless the convicted individual completes a drug treatment program. This can impact professions ranging from healthcare and law to real estate and contracting.

Housing Concerns

Ineligibility for Public Housing

A conviction can result in ineligibility for public housing, limiting your options for affordable accommodation.

Reputational Damage

Reputational Sourness

A drug conviction often carries a social stigma, potentially straining personal and professional relationships. It may also come up in background checks for college applications, adding an additional hurdle to educational advancement.

Costs Incurred

Financial Burden

The defendant will be accountable for various expenses, including court fees, supervision costs, and drug tests. These can add up quickly and present a substantial financial burden.

The implications of a cannabis possession charge in Florida go far beyond legal fines and imprisonment. From damaging your career prospects and educational opportunities to impacting your social reputation and financial standing, the consequences can be both broad and long-lasting.

Defending a Charge of Possession of Cannabis in Florida

Our experienced legal team at Leppard Law can employ a number of potential defenses when it comes to challenging a possession of cannabis charge. Some of these strategies may include:

Actual or Constructive Possession

To prove that you had possession of a controlled substance, the State must show either actual possession or constructive possession. Actual possession is when the controlled substance is on your person (such as in your hand or in your pockets) or within your ready reach and control. Constructive possession is when the controlled substance is located somewhere you have control over and you are aware that the controlled substance is within your presence. If the State fails to prove either type of possession, then you cannot be found guilty of Possession of Cannabis.

Proving Amount of Cannabis

If you are charged with Possession of More than 20 Grams of Cannabis, which is a third-degree felony, then part of the State’s burden is proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the amount of cannabis was more than 20 grams. If the State fails to do so, or if the amount can’t be determined, then you can only be found guilty of Possession of 20 Grams or Less of Cannabis, which is a misdemeanor and punished less severely.

Under the “legal disposal” defense, it is not a crime to possess a controlled substance if you possess it only temporarily for the sole purpose of throwing it away, destroying it, or turning it over to police.

Lack of Knowledge

Florida law recognizes an affirmative defense to a possession charge that the defendant was unaware of the illicit nature of the controlled substance in his or her possession. However, knowledge of a controlled substance’s illicit nature is not an element of the offense, so it is the defendant’s burden to prove that he or she lacked that knowledge.

Other Potential Defenses

Here are just a few of the myriad other strategies we can use to challenge the State’s case or prove your innocence:

    • Moving to throw out evidence that was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights
    • Showing that there is no evidence supporting the charge
    • Invalid Stop – office could not smell cannabis 
    • Invalid Stop – no open container 
    • Invalid Stop- cannot prove a crime was being committed 
    • No probable cause for a search
    • No basis for stopping prior to pulling behind our client
    • Jurisdiction
    • Invalid Mutual Aid Agreement
    • Invalid inventory search
    • Invalid or ambiguous consent to search
    • additional motions

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What does constructive possession mean in a cannabis possession charge?

Constructive possession implies that while the defendant didn’t have the cannabis physically on their person, they had knowledge of its presence and the ability to control it.

2. What are the penalties for possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis in Florida?

Possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine.

3. What defenses can be used in a cannabis possession case in Florida?

Potential defenses include challenging the legality of the search, the accuracy of the evidence, and the actual or constructive possession of the cannabis.

4. Can I avoid a conviction for cannabis possession in Florida?

While there are no guarantees, a skilled attorney can leverage various strategies to contest the charges and potentially secure a dismissal or a reduction of charges.

5. How can a lawyer help in a cannabis possession case?

A lawyer can evaluate your case, develop a defense strategy, contest the evidence, represent you in court, and negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf.

We Can Help: Trust Leppard Law for Your Cannabis Possession Defense

If you or a loved one has been arrested for possession of cannabis or other controlled or illegal substances in Orlando, Orange County, Seminole County, Brevard County, Lake County, Volusia County, or Osceola County, Florida, it’s crucial to act quickly. Leppard Law, a top-rated criminal law firm, is here to assist you in navigating the complex legal landscape of cannabis possession.

Why Choose Leppard Law?

Quality and Recognition Speak for Themselves

Over 300+ 5-Star Google Reviews: Our clients have spoken, and they trust us to deliver exceptional service and results.

#1 “Best DUI Law in Orlando” – Yelp (’16-’21): Our expertise in DUI laws has consistently earned us top rankings.

Best DWI Lawyers in Orlando, FL – Three Best Rated (’17-’23): Our reputation in DWI defense is second to none.

20 Best Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys – Expertise (’17-’23): We’re recognized experts in criminal law.

#5 Fastest Growing Law Firm in the US – Law Firm 500 (2020): We’re rapidly expanding thanks to our proven track record and customer satisfaction.

Client’s Choice Award for DUI – Avvo (’15, ’16, ’17): Our client-first approach has consistently won us accolades.

#1 “Best DUI Attorneys in Orlando” – Best DWI Attorneys (’16-’19): We lead the way in DUI defense.

Personalized Defense Strategies

At Leppard Law, we believe in building personal relationships with our clients. We know that facing a criminal charge is stressful and that’s why we’re committed to fighting for the best possible outcome for your case. We treat our clients like family, putting their best interests first at every step of the legal process.

Free Consultation and Exceptional Support

Don’t take our word for it, experience our top-notch legal services for yourself. If you’ve been charged with a cannabis-related offense, contact us today at 407-476-4111 to schedule a free consultation. Our team of experienced criminal lawyers will discuss your legal options and help you understand how a well-prepared defense can significantly lower your potential penalties.

Honored to Serve the Community

“Best of Orlando” for Criminal and DUI Defense on Thumbtack and Yelp for six years in a row!

At Leppard Law, we’re more than just a law firm; we’re a part of the community we serve. Your trust fuels our commitment to legal excellence, and we’re honored to stand beside you during life’s most challenging moments.

ONE call can make all the difference. Reach out to our team of top-rated criminal defense attorneys today to receive the support and legal expertise you deserve.

Final Word

Don’t navigate the complicated landscape of cannabis possession alone. Leppard Law is committed to making your journey through the legal process as painless as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation and let our award-winning team help you when you need it most.

It is recommended that you consult with an experienced criminal lawyer to talk about the legal options you have. Possession of cannabis is a crime that can be extremely serious, and a well-prepared defense could significantly lower the potential penalties. Contact Leppard Law Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys, at 407-476-4111.

Attorney Insight on Possession of Cannabis in Florida

The issue of cannabis possession is particularly nuanced in the state of Florida, where both medical marijuana and hemp are legal under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, the possession of cannabis without proper authorization can result in criminal penalties. These penalties vary depending on the amount possessed, the intent, and any previous criminal records, among other factors.

Florida law distinguishes between medical cannabis, which is legal for qualified patients, and recreational cannabis, which remains illegal. Understanding the difference and the legal limits is essential. Medical cannabis is regulated under the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Amendment 2. Recreational use or possession can result in various penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Understanding the Elements of Possession of Cannabis in Florida

Florida’s laws surrounding cannabis possession are detailed and specific. The penalties one could face depend on fulfilling certain elements of what constitutes unlawful possession. Under Sec. 893.13 of the Florida Statutes, particular criteria need to be satisfied for someone to be convicted for the possession of cannabis. Below, we dissect these elements to help you understand the intricacies of this statute.

Elements Required to Prove Possession

Standard Elements Across Possessions

  1. Knowingly Possessed: The prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly possessed cannabis. Ignorance or lack of awareness of the cannabis can sometimes serve as a defense, although this is generally difficult to prove.
  2. Unlawfully Obtained: The cannabis must not have been lawfully obtained through a qualified medical practitioner or via a valid prescription under Florida’s medical marijuana laws.

Elements for Possession of Under 20 Grams

According to the Florida Standard Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases (Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim) 25.7), three elements are specifically required to prove possession of under 20 grams of cannabis:

  1. Actual or Constructive Possession: The defendant must have either actual or constructive possession of the substance. ‘Actual’ possession means physically holding or carrying, while ‘constructive’ possession means having control over the location where the cannabis is found.
  2. Substance is Cannabis (Less Than 20 Grams): Lab tests, witness testimony, or other evidence must confirm that the substance in question is indeed cannabis, and its weight must be under 20 grams.
  3. Knowledge of the Substance: The defendant must have been aware that the substance they possessed was cannabis. This element rules out cases where someone may have been unknowingly carrying or storing the cannabis.
  1. Knowingly: Having awareness or conscious possession or control of something. It is one of the most challenging elements for the prosecution to prove.
  2. Actual Possession vs. Constructive Possession: ‘Actual’ refers to having the cannabis on your person, for example in your hand or in your pocket. ‘Constructive’ refers to having it in a place over which you have control, like your car or your home.
  3. Valid Prescription: To lawfully possess medical cannabis, one must have a recommendation from a qualified physician and must purchase the cannabis from a licensed dispensary.

Penalties for Possession of Cannabis in Florida

The penalties for cannabis possession vary depending on the amount involved. These penalties, as defined by Florida statutes, can range from monetary fines to imprisonment. The following chart details these penalties:

Amount of Cannabis Charge Maximum Penalty
More than 20 Grams Third-degree felony 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine
20 Grams or Less First-degree misdemeanor 1 year of jail or probation, and a $1,000 fine

The charge carries a severity level of 1 (or 4 points) under the Criminal Punishment Code. Assuming there are no aggravating circumstances (such as prior criminal convictions), there is no minimum mandatory sentence. This means that even though the judge can sentence you up to the maximum allowed sentence, the judge is not required to order any amount of prison time.

Moreover, under Sec. 322.055, Florida Statutes, the court is required to suspend your driver’s license for 6 months if you are convicted of Possession of More Than 20 Grams of Cannabis. However, the court may allow you to obtain a restricted business-purposes-only license if warranted by a “compelling circumstance.”

While most people are aware that possession of cannabis can lead to criminal charges, fewer may realize the full extent of the penalties that can accompany a conviction. In addition to legal consequences like fines and imprisonment, a myriad of secondary ramifications can severely impact various aspects of your life. Below is a comprehensive list of these additional repercussions that may accompany a conviction for cannabis possession in Florida.

Driver’s License Suspension

A conviction can result in a one-year suspension of your driver’s license. This can severely limit your mobility and ability to handle daily activities like commuting to work or school.

Probation

If the infraction is deemed probationary, then the defendant will be subject to extensive random drug tests. Additionally, the defendant will be financially responsible for the costs of supervision, court fees, fines, and prosecution charges.

Education Impact

Ineligibility for Scholarships and Financial Aid

A conviction can make you ineligible for Florida’s Bright Futures Scholarships and may affect other forms of financial aid. This can have long-term implications for your educational aspirations and career prospects.

Employment Consequences

Ineligibility for Government Jobs

Certain government jobs may be off-limits to individuals with a cannabis possession conviction on their records.

General Employment Obstacles

Many employers conduct background checks, and a drug conviction can result in missed job opportunities or even termination from current employment.

Certification and Licensing

State Licensing, Permit, and Certification Issues

Unauthorized interference can occur with state licenses, permits, and certifications unless the convicted individual completes a drug treatment program. This can impact professions ranging from healthcare and law to real estate and contracting.

Housing Concerns

Ineligibility for Public Housing

A conviction can result in ineligibility for public housing, limiting your options for affordable accommodation.

Reputational Damage

Reputational Sourness

A drug conviction often carries a social stigma, potentially straining personal and professional relationships. It may also come up in background checks for college applications, adding an additional hurdle to educational advancement.

Costs Incurred

Financial Burden

The defendant will be accountable for various expenses, including court fees, supervision costs, and drug tests. These can add up quickly and present a substantial financial burden.

The implications of a cannabis possession charge in Florida go far beyond legal fines and imprisonment. From damaging your career prospects and educational opportunities to impacting your social reputation and financial standing, the consequences can be both broad and long-lasting.

Defending a Charge of Possession of Cannabis in Florida

Our experienced legal team at Leppard Law can employ a number of potential defenses when it comes to challenging a possession of cannabis charge. Some of these strategies may include:

Actual or Constructive Possession

To prove that you had possession of a controlled substance, the State must show either actual possession or constructive possession. Actual possession is when the controlled substance is on your person (such as in your hand or in your pockets) or within your ready reach and control. Constructive possession is when the controlled substance is located somewhere you have control over and you are aware that the controlled substance is within your presence. If the State fails to prove either type of possession, then you cannot be found guilty of Possession of Cannabis.

Proving Amount of Cannabis

If you are charged with Possession of More than 20 Grams of Cannabis, which is a third-degree felony, then part of the State’s burden is proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the amount of cannabis was more than 20 grams. If the State fails to do so, or if the amount can’t be determined, then you can only be found guilty of Possession of 20 Grams or Less of Cannabis, which is a misdemeanor and punished less severely.

Under the “legal disposal” defense, it is not a crime to possess a controlled substance if you possess it only temporarily for the sole purpose of throwing it away, destroying it, or turning it over to police.

Lack of Knowledge

Florida law recognizes an affirmative defense to a possession charge that the defendant was unaware of the illicit nature of the controlled substance in his or her possession. However, knowledge of a controlled substance’s illicit nature is not an element of the offense, so it is the defendant’s burden to prove that he or she lacked that knowledge.

Other Potential Defenses

Here are just a few of the myriad other strategies we can use to challenge the State’s case or prove your innocence:

    • Moving to throw out evidence that was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights
    • Showing that there is no evidence supporting the charge
    • Invalid Stop – office could not smell cannabis 
    • Invalid Stop – no open container 
    • Invalid Stop- cannot prove a crime was being committed 
    • No probable cause for a search
    • No basis for stopping prior to pulling behind our client
    • Jurisdiction
    • Invalid Mutual Aid Agreement
    • Invalid inventory search
    • Invalid or ambiguous consent to search
    • additional motions

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does constructive possession mean in a cannabis possession charge?

Constructive possession implies that while the defendant didn’t have the cannabis physically on their person, they had knowledge of its presence and the ability to control it.

2. What are the penalties for possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis in Florida?

Possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis is a third-degree felony in Florida, punishable by up to 5 years of prison or probation, and a $5,000 fine.

3. What defenses can be used in a cannabis possession case in Florida?

Potential defenses include challenging the legality of the search, the accuracy of the evidence, and the actual or constructive possession of the cannabis.

4. Can I avoid a conviction for cannabis possession in Florida?

While there are no guarantees, a skilled attorney can leverage various strategies to contest the charges and potentially secure a dismissal or a reduction of charges.

5. How can a lawyer help in a cannabis possession case?

A lawyer can evaluate your case, develop a defense strategy, contest the evidence, represent you in court, and negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf.

We Can Help: Trust Leppard Law for Your Cannabis Possession Defense

If you or a loved one has been arrested for possession of cannabis or other controlled or illegal substances in Orlando, Orange County, Seminole County, Brevard County, Lake County, Volusia County, or Osceola County, Florida, it’s crucial to act quickly. Leppard Law, a top-rated criminal law firm, is here to assist you in navigating the complex legal landscape of cannabis possession.

Why Choose Leppard Law?

Quality and Recognition Speak for Themselves

Over 300+ 5-Star Google Reviews: Our clients have spoken, and they trust us to deliver exceptional service and results.

#1 “Best DUI Law in Orlando” – Yelp (’16-’21): Our expertise in DUI laws has consistently earned us top rankings.

Best DWI Lawyers in Orlando, FL – Three Best Rated (’17-’23): Our reputation in DWI defense is second to none.

20 Best Orlando Criminal Defense Attorneys – Expertise (’17-’23): We’re recognized experts in criminal law.

#5 Fastest Growing Law Firm in the US – Law Firm 500 (2020): We’re rapidly expanding thanks to our proven track record and customer satisfaction.

Client’s Choice Award for DUI – Avvo (’15, ’16, ’17): Our client-first approach has consistently won us accolades.

#1 “Best DUI Attorneys in Orlando” – Best DWI Attorneys (’16-’19): We lead the way in DUI defense.

Personalized Defense Strategies

At Leppard Law, we believe in building personal relationships with our clients. We know that facing a criminal charge is stressful and that’s why we’re committed to fighting for the best possible outcome for your case. We treat our clients like family, putting their best interests first at every step of the legal process.

Free Consultation and Exceptional Support

Don’t take our word for it, experience our top-notch legal services for yourself. If you’ve been charged with a cannabis-related offense, contact us today at 407-476-4111 to schedule a free consultation. Our team of experienced criminal lawyers will discuss your legal options and help you understand how a well-prepared defense can significantly lower your potential penalties.

Honored to Serve the Community

“Best of Orlando” for Criminal and DUI Defense on Thumbtack and Yelp for six years in a row!

At Leppard Law, we’re more than just a law firm; we’re a part of the community we serve. Your trust fuels our commitment to legal excellence, and we’re honored to stand beside you during life’s most challenging moments.

ONE call can make all the difference. Reach out to our team of top-rated criminal defense attorneys today to receive the support and legal expertise you deserve.

Final Word

Don’t navigate the complicated landscape of cannabis possession alone. Leppard Law is committed to making your journey through the legal process as painless as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation and let our award-winning team help you when you need it most.

It is recommended that you consult with an experienced criminal lawyer to talk about the legal options you have. Possession of cannabis is a crime that can be extremely serious, and a well-prepared defense could significantly lower the potential penalties. Contact Leppard Law Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys, at 407-476-4111.

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