MARIJUANA DEFENSE LAWYER POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA MORE THAN 20 GRAMS
Marijuana is becoming more and more socially and medically acceptable, but it remains illegal in some states. Unfortunately, people to no realize the significant punishment and consequences if they are caught with marijuana. Depending on the amount or type of marijuana found on a person may result in felony charges.
IS POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA A FELONY?
It can be. It depends on how much marijuana is found on a person. The cutoff between a misdemeanor and a felony is 20 grams. If the amount is less than 20 grams, then the charge is a first degree misdemeanor. If the amount is greater than 20 grams then it is a third degree felony.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA MORE THAN 20 GRAMS?
This charge is a felony so you will be transported to the county jail. This charge is an immediate bondable offense. This means that you can post a schedule bond once you are booked into the county jail and do not have to be brought in front of a judge the next morning for First Appearance. The scheduled bond will vary depending on the county you are arrested in and the county or state where you live.
If you cannot post the bond immediately, then you will be First Appeared before a judge the next morning and the judge will set bond in you case. The bond will be determined based on several factors including any prior criminal history, prior failures to appear for court, and other facts of the case.
WHAT WILL THE SENTENCE BE FOR POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA MORE THAN 20 GRAMS?
The sentence will vary depending on the sentencing guidelines. The guidelines take into account prior criminal history and other criminal charges. The sentences can include diversion (meaning having the case dropped), a felony conviction, probation, county jail time, of state prison incarceration. An experienced defense attorney will be able to provide a more accurate range upon a thorough review of the individual facts and circumstances surrounding your case.
IF YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA MORE THAN 20 GRAMS DOES THAT MEAN YOU WILL BE CONVICTED?
No. Just because you are arrested for this crime, it does not mean that you will be convicted for it. Even when a person is arrested for a crime in Florida they have not be formally charged until they have been indicted or have an information filed. It is during this time that a defense attorney can sometimes convince a prosecutor that there is no reasonable likelihood of successful prosecution and have the case dropped. If a prosecutor proceeds forward with criminal charges you always have the right to a jury trial to make the ultimate determination in the case. Additionally, your attorney can challenge any illegally obtained evidence in a Motion to Suppress.
CAN YOU BE ARRESTED FOR MARIJUANA JUST BECAUSE IT WAS FOUND IN THE CAR WITH YOU?
Police will often arrest people for possessing a drug just based upon the fact that the marijuana was found in the car with them. Sometimes, this even includes the arrest of multiple people in the car. However, an experienced defense lawyer can be successful in getting the case No Filed (dropped).
Just because a person gets into a car does not mean that they know everything that is in the car. It would unfair to hold them responsible for anything illegal in the car in these situations. If you find yourself in this situation it is extremely important to contact a defense attorney to try to get the case No Filed before any formal charges are brought.
CAN YOU TAKE A DRUG TEST TO PROVE THE MARIJUANA WAS NOT YOURS?
Yes, you can, but this is not the ultimate determining factor. A negative drug test can show the prosecutor that you have not smoked marijuana recently because marijuana tends to stay in the human body for thirty days after it has been used. This can be used to buttress a defense that the marijuana was not yours and you did not know about it. However, the crime is for merely possessing marijuana and not necessarily smoking or consuming marijuana. A defense lawyer will be able to provide more insight and better advice based upon the individual facts of your case.
HOW CAN YOU PROVE THE MARIJUANA WAS NOT YOURS? HOW CAN YOU PROVE YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE MARIJUANA?
It can be difficult to prove a negative. There are techniques to that can be used to help build your defense. For example, if the marijuana is not yours, then the container that it was in can be tested for fingerprints or DNA evidence. The lack of this evidence supports the assertion that it was not yours. It can have an even bigger impact if DNA evidence is recovered from the marijuana and the DNA does not match your DNA. This shows that somebody else has touched the marijuana.
It is possible to prove that you did not know about the marijuana because you are the only person that knows what you were thinking. However, you can use other circumstantial evidence to show that you did not know about the marijuana. For example, if a person did not know that marijuana was in their car, then they may typically allow a police officer to search their car.
CAN YOU TAKE A LIE DETECTOR TEST TO SHOW THAT YOU DID NOT KNOW ABOUT THE DRUGS?
Yes, but it is inadmissible in court. There are two types of lie detector tests, which are a polygraph examination and a computer voice stress analysis. Both are not allowed as evidence in any criminal proceeding. You should consult with a lawyer before engaging in either of these tests.
WHAT IF YOU BROUGHT THE MARIJUANA FROM A STATE WHERE IT IS LEGAL?
Marijuana is legal in some states, but it is still illegal in the state of Florida. If you have more than 20 grams of marijuana on you, then you will be arrested for a felony. It is not a defense that you brought the marijuana form a state where it is legal. As the old saying goes, ignorance is not a defense to the law.
CAN YOU LOSE YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE FOR POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA?
Yes. If you are convicted for possession of marijuana, your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. This is mandated by law such that a judge cannot avoid the driver’s license suspension even if they wanted to. This makes it all the more important to avoid a conviction.
A conviction can be avoided by obtaining a withhold of adjudication or entering a diversion program. Upon entering and successfully completing a diversion program, the case will be dropped. There are several different types of diversion programs that are available that you may be eligible for. These include drug court, VA court, a deferred prosecution agreement(DPA), a plea and pass, or a pre-trial intervention program among others. A defense lawyer will be able to tell you whether you are eligible for a diversion program along with the positives and negatives of each program to make the determination if this is the right avenue for your case.
WE CAN HELP
At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, we have three former prosecutors who can help. Let us use our expertise to help you in your time of need.