Marijuana crimes, and the related penalties for possession of marijuana less than 20 grams, possession of Marijuana greater than 20 grams, possession with intent to sell marijuana, trafficking of marijuana and possession of marijuana plants are set forth in Chapter 893, Florida Statutes. Although many states have legalized Cannabis for either medicinal purposes, or in the case of certain states like Colorado, which have legalized recreational marijuana use, Florida is not nearly as progressive. While the legalization of Marijuana for medicinal purposes is on the ballot in November of 2014, it is still illegal in all forms as of the writing of this post. The penalties for Marijuana in Florida get serious quickly!
Most drugs in Florida are classified in terms of Schedules. These schedules range from Schedule I through Schedule V. Cannabis, a/k/a Marijuana, is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance (see §893.03(1)(c)7, Florida Statutes ). A Schedule I Controlled Substance is defined as having “a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and its use under medical supervision does not meet accepted safety standards.” § 893.03(1), Florida Statutes. The Schedule I classification of Marijuana is an outdated classification, which brings about harsh penalties for folks that are convicted for any variety of the Marijuana charges such as the misdemeanor version of possession of marijuana less than 20 grams, through the felony charges such as possession of Marijuana greater than 20 grams, possession with intent to sell marijuana, or trafficking of marijuana or possession of marijuana plants, as referenced above.
As mentioned above, the penalties, and charge severity range from a 1st degree misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of 11/29 (11 months and 29 days in county jail or one year of probation) through the most severe possession charge that is a 1st degree felony with a maximum sentence of 30 years in state prison. In addition to potential fines in ranging from a few hundred dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the potential lengthy jail or prison sentences, Florida also imposes fines and a driver’s license suspension for 2 years following a conviction of a Marijuana related charge.
Pursuant to §322.055, Florida Statutes the court is required to direct the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“DHSMV”) to suspend the driver’s license of anyone that has been convicted of a drug charge such as possession or sale of, trafficking in, or conspiracy to possess, sell, or traffic in a controlled substance. The license can be obtained after the completion of a drug evaluation and treatment program or it can be obtained after six months on what is referred to as a “hardship license.”
Bottom line, a skilled criminal defense attorney is necessary whenever you are facing a drug related charges. Simply accepting an adjudication comes with more sanctions than first meets the eye. Contact former felony prosecutor Michael Fayard before you accept a plea if you have been charged with a drug related crime. You may have defenses, and you may be able to avoid some of the harsh sanctions required with an adjudication.