Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession
In 2015, Miami-Dade County decriminalized possession of up to 20 grams (or roughly three-quarters of an ounce) of cannabis. The Miami-Dade County Commission approved a proposal that allows police officers to issue $100 civil citations or the equivalent of community service hours instead of placing alleged offenders under arrest.
Civil citations are not an option if the person was in possession of marijuana while driving under the influence (DUI) or while committing a felony, a crime of domestic violence, or violent crime. When a person allegedly possesses 20 grams or less of marijuana in other parts of Florida, the criminal charge is a first-degree misdemeanor frequently referred to as “simple possession.”
An alleged offender in this type of case may be issued a “notice to appear” instead of being arrested and taken into custody. The resemblance a notice to appear has to a civil citation like a traffic ticket and the phrase simple possession can lead some people to believe that their encounters with police were not all that serious.
The truth, however, is that even possession of a small amount of marijuana that would not be a major issue in Miami-Dade County can still be a criminal offense in surrounding parts of Florida that can result in serious long-term consequences if not handled properly.Lawyer for Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana in Miami-Dade County, FL
If you were arrested or issued a notice to appear for allegedly possessing 20 grams or less of cannabis in Florida, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel. The Hoffman Firm can help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest penalties.
Miami criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman is a former Assistant State Attorney who represents clients facing marijuana charges in Hialeah, South Miami, Opa-locka, Miami Beach, and many other nearby areas in Miami-Dade County. He can review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call (305) 249-0090 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
North Miami Simple Possession of Marijuana Information Center
- How is possession of cannabis proven?
- What are the consequences of being convicted for possessing 20 grams or less of marijuana?
- Where can I learn more about cannabis laws in Miami-Dade County?
Florida Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Charges
Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(b) establishes that it is a misdemeanor of the first degree for any person to be in possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis. Florida Standard Jury Instruction Chapter 25.7 states that the State must prove the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to prove the crime of misdemeanor possession of marijuana:
- The alleged offender knew of the presence of a substance.
- The alleged offender exercised control or ownership over that substance.
- The substance was cannabis.
The Standard Jury Instructions state that there are two ways to exercise control: actual possession and constructive possession. Actual possession is defined as the person being aware of the presence of the marijuana and:
- The cannabis is in the hand of or on the person;
- The marijuana is in a container in the hand of or on the person; or
- The cannabis is so close as to be within ready reach and is under the control of the person.
Constructive possession is defined as the person being aware of the presence of the marijuana, the cannabis is in a place over which the person has control, and the person has the ability to control the marijuana. Furthermore, possession of cannabis can be sole or joint, meaning two or more persons may be aware of the presence of marijuana and may jointly exercise control over it.
In such cases, each of those persons can be considered to be in possession of cannabis. It is important to understand that Standard Jury Instructions are rarely used verbatim, but they are generally the starting points under which negotiations begin between prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers.
Simple Marijuana Possession Penalties in Miami-Dade County
Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis may result in little more than a civil citation that is essentially the same as a traffic ticket. Police officers still have the discretion to file criminal charges in these cases though.
As a first-degree misdemeanor offense, a conviction for simple possession of cannabis can result in the following penalties:
- Up to one year in jail;
- Fine of up to $1,000; and/or
- Driver’s license revoked for one year.
People facing misdemeanor marijuana possession charges may be eligible for diversion programs in which successful completion can result in criminal charges being dismissed. Not all alleged offenders, however are eligible for participation in diversion programs, and such participation may not always be in the best interest of others who may be eligible.
Participation in a diversion program can be just as devastating as a conviction on a criminal record for certain professionals in Florida. It is critical to discuss all particular aspects of your unique situation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to ensure that you pursue the outcome that does not result in serious long-term consequences.
Florida Resources for Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Arrests
Florida Standard Jury Instructions | Chapter 25: Drug Abuse & Contraband in Facilities — You can download the jury instructions relating to possession of a controlled substance in Florida under section 25.7 on this website. The jury instructions are provided in rich text format. They address definitions, inferences, and affirmative defenses.
Miami-Dade Legislative Item | File Number: 150589 — View the ordinance that the Miami-Dade County Commission approved by a 10-3 vote on June 30, 2015. In addition to possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis, the ordinance also allowed several other misdemeanors to be treated as civil citations. Other offenses include littering, loitering, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Are you facing criminal charges for alleged possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis in Florida? Contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible to explore all of your legal options.
Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Miami who helps clients all over Miami-Dade County, including North Miami, Aventura, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, and several other surrounding communities. Call (305) 249-0090 or complete an online contact form right now to take advantage a free initial consultation that will let our lawyer review your case.