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In Florida, it is illegal to be in possession of certain controlled substances. Cannabis is classified as a controlled substance under Florida law and thus possession of it is a crime. Unlike other states, you cannot be given a prescription for Cannabis.

Penalties for a Possession of Cannabis Charge

Possession of Cannabis in Florida is classified as either a first degree misdemeanor or as a third degree felony depending on the amount of Cannabis found in your possession.

If you are charged with Possession of Cannabis Under 20 Grams in Florida, the crime will be classified as a first degree misdemeanor punishable by up to:
  1. One year in the county jail;
  2. One year of supervised probation;
  3. A $1,000 fine
If you are charged with Possession of Cannabis More than 20 Grams in Florida, the crime will be classified as a third degree felony punishable by up to:
  1. Five years in state prison;
  2. Five years of supervised probation;
  3. A $5,000 fine
Additionally, if you are convicted of Possession of Cannabis in Florida, your driver's license will be suspended for two years.

What Constitues "Possession" in Florida?

The term of "possession" is a very braod term that can essentially be broken down into two separate categories:

Actual Possession
In Florida, actual possession is when the substance is physically found on your person. Specifically, it might be found in your pocket, in your hand, in your mouth, or otherwise physically on your person.

Constructive Possession
In Florida, constructive possession is when the substance is not physically on your person but is close enough to you that it can reasonably be assumed that you were in possession of it.

Essentially, it will be necessary for the State to prove that you could exercise dominion and control over the substance.

It is much more difficult for the State to prove constructive possession cases than actual possession cases.

Defenses to a Possession of Cannabis Charge

In addition to factual defenses that would be raised at trial to show reasonable doubt as to the crime alleged, some common defenses to a Possession of Cannabis charge in Florida include:

The police violated your rights
It is critical to determine whether your constitutional rights were violated by police. From the moment of your first encounter with the police, their actions must be heavily scrutinized to ensure they did not violate your constitutional rights to:
  1. Privacy;
  2. The right to remain silent;
  3. The right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures
If any violation of your rights occurred, it may be grounds to suppress all evidence in a Possession of Cannabis charge in Florida.
 
This will be accomplished by filing and getting a Judge to grant a Motion to Suppress.

The substance was not Cannabis
Cannabis is a controlled substance with a particular molecular and chemical construction. If the State cannot prove that the substance in your possession was actually Cannabis, you will have a viable defense to a Florida Possession of Cannabis charge.
 
However, it is important to remember that you may still be in violation of other Florida laws.

Possession cannot be proven
While actual Possession of Cannabis cases tend to be fairly straightforward as it may be hard to argue that the Cannabis was not yours and that you were not in possession of it if the Cannabis was found in your hand or in your pocket, constructive Possession of Cannabis cases, on the other hand, tend to be rather difficult for the State to prove.
 
A classic example of this is when police find Cannabis in a car or house. Any number of factual situations may make it extremely difficult for the State to prove the Possession of Cannabis charge against you. In such situations, details matter!
 
Details such as whether or not the car or residence belongs to you, whether or not there were other people in the car or residence, whether or not other people had access to the car or residence, or whether or not other people had been using the car or residence prior to you are all very important factors that need to be addressed.

Contact Orlando Criminal Defense Attorney Chris Kaigle if you’ve been charged with Forgery in Florida!
(407) 545-6416