When people think of stiff penalties for drug charges, they're likely thinking about heroin, crack, or one of the other “harder” drugs. What people may not realize is the severity of penalties for marijuana possession, or worse – marijuana possession with the intent to sell or distribute.
Florida possession penalties are based on amounts. Simple possession, when an individual has less than 20 grams of the marijuana in his or her possession when caught by law enforcement, is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a fine of $1,000. From there, the penalties increase dramatically.
Possession of 20 grams is a third degree felony, which means a defendant could be facing up to 5 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. As hinted at earlier, if the situation leads the police to believe the defendant may have had intent to distribute or sell the marijuana, he or she would be facing much steeper penalties, as this is automatically a felony.
Remember that Florida also has unique driving penalties for drug possession charges. In addition to worrying about possible jail time and/or fines, defendants should keep in mind that they would have their driver's license suspended by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for a full 2-year period for any drug possession charge.
Losing a license alone (in addition to the fines and possible jail time, of course) is a significant punishment and a major reason why defendants should always consult an attorney if they are facing drug charges.
On top of all of the legal penalties, being charged and then convicted of a drug offense can carry a serious stigma that may haunt defendants later in life when applying for different jobs, applying to college or graduate schools, or even applying for certain housing.
At this point, you know a little bit about the harsh penalties associated with marijuana possession charges. What you may not have also considered is the trouble that drug paraphernalia can bring – with or without any drugs.
Drug paraphernalia is a broad term that encompasses all equipment and materials that are used (or designed to be used) to grow, process, package, store, inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise get a controlled substance into a human body. Common examples of drug paraphernalia include marijuana pipes, bongs, roach clips, and scales.
Possession of drug paraphernalia, even without any actual controlled substances, is itself a first-degree misdemeanor carrying the same penalties mentioned above associated with simple possession. If caught with both marijuana and paraphernalia, the penalties will worsen dramatically.
Marijuana possession charges are no joke. If you've been charged with possession, you now know that you're facing possible jail time, steep fines, and a 2-year license suspension – unless you do something to protect yourself. Once charged, the best step to take is to hire an experienced criminal law attorney to protect your rights.
The qualified West Palm Beach criminal law attorneys at Farkas & Crowley have the experience necessary to ensure you get the best defense possible. No matter what type of marijuana charge you are facing, contact us today to help you defend your rights.