Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession
As more states and municipalities around the United States have moved to decriminalize or flat-out legalize marijuana for recreational use, cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under Florida Statute § 893.03. In November 2015, the Broward County Commission took a major step to turn possession of small amounts of marijuana into an offense in which police officers could issue alleged offenders civil citations instead of placing them under arrest.
A few months later, however, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission unanimously voted on Feb. 16, 2016, to opt out of the county’s civil citation program. The result is that people in Broward County could still face criminal charges with serious long-term consequences if they are arrested in the wrong area with a minor amount of cannabis.Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana Lawyer in Broward County, Florida
Were you arrested in South Florida for allegedly possessing 20 grams or less of cannabis? The Hoffman Firm aggressively defends clients facing marijuana charges in Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise, Miramar, Margate, and many surrounding areas of Broward County.
Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Evan A. Hoffman has experience handling these cases on both sides of the aisle as a former Assistant State Attorney for the Broward County State Attorney’s Office. He can help you understand all of your legal options as soon as you call (954) 524-4474 to take advantage a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Simple Marijuana Possession Arrests in Fort Lauderdale
- What is the difference between actual possession and constructive possession of cannabis?
- Do I have to go to court if I was given a notice to appear?
- Where can I find more information about cannabis laws in Broward County?
Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana Charges in Florida
Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis is a first degree misdemeanor under Florida Statute § 893.13(6)(b). In order for a person to be convicted of this crime, Chapter 25.7 of the Florida Standard Jury Instructions states that a prosecutor must prove that the alleged offender knew of the presence of marijuana and exercised control or ownership over that marijuana.
Control over cannabis can be exercised through actual possession or constructive possession. Actual possession is generally the easier charge to prove as it involves the marijuana either being on the person or so close as to be within ready reach of the alleged offender.
Constructive possession is more complicated, as this involves an alleged offender being aware of the presence of cannabis, the marijuana being in a place over which the alleged offender had control, and the alleged offender having had the ability to control the marijuana. In cases of constructive possession, it is possible for multiple people to be charged with joint possession.
Penalties for Simple Possession of Marijuana in Broward County
If a person is fortunate enough to receive a civil citation for possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis in Broward County, the effect is similar to a traffic ticket in that the alleged offender merely pays a fine and there are no criminal charges. The Broward County ordinance prohibits citations from being issued in cases in which alleged offenders were also charged with driving under the influence (DUI), a violent crime, domestic violence, or any felony.
In some cases, an alleged offenders may be issued a “notice to appear” instead of being arrested and taken into custody. Notices to appear resemble common citations, but they are still criminal charges for which the people who were issued them must appear in court.
Whether an alleged offender was issued a notice to appear or placed under arrest, a conviction for simple possession of marijuana is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by:
- Maximum sentence of one year in jail;
- Maximum fine of $1,000; and/or
- One year revocation of driver’s license.
Some alleged offenders who were arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana can be eligible for diversion programs. While successful completion of diversion programs can result in criminal charges being dismissed, it is not always in the best interests of all alleged offenders to participate in such programs because participation may still negatively affect professional careers.
Florida Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Resources
Broward County Commission | November 10, 2015 Public Hearing — View the agenda for the Broward County Commission’s November 10, 2015 public hearing. The second item on the agenda was the motion to consider the ordinance that modified the Broward County Code of Ordinances to make possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis punishable by civil citations rather than criminal charges. It passed 9-0, and you can view the proposed ordinance as well as additional materials.
Broward County Administration Office
115 S. Andrews Avenue, Room 409
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
City of Fort Lauderdale | Resolution No. 16-27 — Visit this website to view the Fort Lauderdale City Commission’s resolution formally electing not to participate in Broward County’s Civil Citation Program. You can view the resolution, the commission agenda memo, and a memorandum from Assistant City Attorney Dina Kaizen. The resolution was adopted 5-0 at the City Commission’s regular meeting on February 16, 2016.
Fort Lauderdale City Commission
100 North Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
If you have been charged with misdemeanor possession of cannabis in South Florida, it will be in your best interest to immediately seek legal representation. The Hoffman Firm can help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible penalties.
Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale who fights to get criminal charges reduced or dismissed for clients throughout Broward County, including Lauderhill, Coral Springs, Dania Beach, Plantation, Pompano Beach, and several other nearby communities. Call (954) 524-4474 or complete an online to schedule a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyer review your case.