Although a constitutional amendment known as the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative was passed in 2016, legalizing medical marijuana for people with certain debilitating conditions and diseases, recreational marijuana use is still illegal. People accused of this type of crime should retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Sarasota marijuana crime lawyer Will Hanlon is dedicated to defending the rights of people facing drug charges, whether they involve marijuana or a substance like cocaine or meth.Penalties and Defenses in Marijuana Cases
If you are caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana, you can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. This means that you may face a maximum of one year in jail plus a fine. If you are caught with 20 grams-25 pounds or less than 300 plants, you may face a maximum of five years in prison plus a fine. Possession of marijuana involves the capacity to exercise the right of ownership, management, or control over the drug. Possession of marijuana may be actual or constructive. Actual possession exists if the marijuana is close enough to be within ready reach or actually in somebody's hands, and it is under the person's control. Simply being near a controlled substance is not enough to establish that the marijuana is under a suspect's control, however. Constructive possession exists when the marijuana is in a place where the defendant has control or where the defendant hid it, even though it is not in the person's physical control.
To prove that you had constructive possession, a prosecutor needs to show that you had dominion or control over the marijuana, and you knew that the marijuana was within your presence. Your knowledge of the marijuana's presence can be inferred if you have exclusive possession of it, but if more than one person has access to it, both knowledge and control must be independently proven. A marijuana crime attorney in Sarasota can explain how these nuances may apply to your case. If you are caught with more than 25 pounds, you can be charged with trafficking in marijuana or cannabis, which is a felony. For trafficking, sentencing occurs according to sentencing guidelines.
If you are caught trafficking in 25-2,000 pounds, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of a $25,000 fine and three years in prison. When you are caught with 2,000-10,000 pounds of marijuana, there is a mandatory $50,000 fine and seven years in prison. When there are over 10,000 pounds of marijuana involved, there is a mandatory $200,000 fine and 15 years in prison. A mandatory minimum sentence is one in which the judge does not have discretion to impose a lighter sentence. Any mitigating factors, such as it being a first offense, will not be considered. Generally, selling marijuana is a third-degree felony.
However, if no money was exchanged and the amount was less than 20 grams, a first-degree misdemeanor may be charged for a first offense. However, when there is a subsequent selling offense, the potential sentence is 15 years. There are numerous potential defenses to these charges that a Sarasota marijuana crime attorney can help you explore. Under the Fourth Amendment, for example, you have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This area of case law can be a little complicated, but when police do not meet the appropriate standards for stopping and searching you or for obtaining a warrant to search your home, the evidence seized in the improper search may be subject to a motion to suppress. Without evidence of the marijuana, the prosecutor usually cannot move forward with a criminal charge.
Similarly, you have a right to receive what are known as Miranda warnings if you are in the custody of the police before the police can ask you questions about a crime, whether this is a drug crime or another type of crime, such as a sex crime. Failing to provide these warnings before questioning you while in custody can result in the statements you made being suppressed, and to the extent that those statements were evidence for the crime, the suppression may damage the prosecutor's case.Discuss Your Case with a Marijuana Crime Lawyer in the Sarasota Area
Marijuana crimes may result in serious consequences. Depending on the quantity and activity at issue, you may face imprisonment and a fine. Even if probation is imposed, you may face random drug tests, a stigma that follows you into the workplace and housing market, and ineligibility for certain kinds of professional licenses. Sarasota criminal attorney Will Hanlon is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused. He has represented people charged with trafficking in marijuana, meth, cocaine, oxycodone, and other drugs since 1994. Call Hanlon Law at 941.462.1789 or contact us via our online form.