Unlike many states, Florida has yet to pass a law that allows for marijuana possession for medical use. Despite the fact that the courts and registered voters desire a change in the law, the legislation has not made the changes that would allow for a medical necessity defense in marijuana possession cases. In other states, individuals can possess marijuana for medical ailments if a license medical doctor authorizes its use. Any one charged with marijuana possession charges should retain a Miami criminal defense lawyer to defend the case as a conviction or a withhold of adjudication to a marijuana possession charges can have long lasting effects such as immigration or employment problems.
Marijuana possession is first degree misdemeanor punishable up to a year in jail. Individuals with no prior record will be offered the opportunity to enroll and successfully complete a pre-trial diversion program. In misdemeanor cases, the defendant will be required to complete a four to six hour drug class. Upon completion of the class, the state attorney's office will nolle pros or dismiss the charge. Before accepting the program, it is advisable to consult with a criminal attorney because the state may not have enough evidence to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If that is the case, a defendant should not enroll in the program and seek a dismissal of the case. In either situation, a defendant will be able to expunge his or her record once the case has been dismissed.
Felony possession of marijuana (more than 20 grams) is little more problematic. In Miami-Dade County, the state attorney's office will not offer pre-trial intervention on drug cases. They offer a year long very intensive drug court program. The program requires monthly reporting to court where urine samples are often taken. Narcotics anonymous sessions along with outpatient drug programs are a requirement. Before enrolling in drug court, have lawyer evaluate your case because the case may have many defenses. Your lawyer can also seek out an alternative resolution to the case that does not require the drug court program.
The most difficult type of marijuana case to defend is marijuana trafficking. The majority of the cases arise from hydroponic labs built in the home. Possession of more than 25 pounds of marijuana constitutes marijuana trafficking with a three minimum mandatory prison sentence. The minimum mandatory was enacted a few years back when marijuana cultivation was becoming problematic in the legislation's eyes. Most arrests for operating a grow house results from anonymous tips provided by the police. The police in general do not get warrants and simply try to obtain consent to search the residence. The police have the authority to walk up to your front door and ask for consent to search. The best way to keep the police off the front porch is surround your house with a fence and locked gates. Florida law is well-settled that law enforcement can not gain egress into a person's property if that property is surrounded be fence with locked gates. Remember, you can refuse to give consent to your property. The police may threaten to arrest you spouse of take your children away. Police action of this type makes a consent to search involuntary which will allow the judge to suppress any evidence seized from your residence.
Florida Still has Harshest Penalties in the Country for Marijuana Use, Examiner.com, September 23, 2010.