Possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana can result in a criminal charge of simple possession. Despite the name of the offense implying that such cases are fairly straightforward, this offense is anything but. In fact, an alleged offender will quickly find that a conviction can create multiple complications in his or her life.
Under Florida Statute § 893.13, possession can be actual or constructive:
- Actual – Alleged offenders have physical possession of cannabis in their hands, on their persons, in their clothing, or within their immediate reach
- Constructive – Alleged offenders do not have actual physical possession of marijuana, but have dominion and control over the pot, knowledge that the controlled substance was within their presences, and knowledge that the drug was illegal
The penalties of a conviction for simple possession of marijuana in Florida can create extraordinary difficulties for the alleged offender. The consequences can include:
- Possession of 20 grams or less of cannabis – A person who is convicted of actual or constructive marijuana possession can be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison and $1,000 in fines.
- Delivery of 20 grams or less of cannabis without consideration – A person who is convicted of a marijuana “gift” charge, meaning 20 or grams or less without remuneration or exchange of money, can be sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison and $1,000 in fines.
In addition to the penalties listed above, a person convicted of simple possession will also have his or her driver’s license suspended for two years. Furthermore, this type of drug conviction can affect a person’s ability to receive government aid (such as student loans) and render him or her ineligible for state licensing, public housing, and certain jobs.
While simple possession allegations can be overwhelming, there are numerous defenses that may be able to help a person have these marijuana charges reduced or dismissed. Depending on the specific circumstances of a person’s case, possible defenses may include, but are not limited to:
- Illegal search and seizure
- No knowledge of cannabis possession
- No probable cause
Again, there is rarely anything “simple” about any type of marijuana offense. It is important for any person who has been arrested for a cannabis charge to take the criminal allegations very seriously. It is a mistake to assume that the term simple possession means that a prosecutor will “go easy” on alleged offenders, and any person facing these charges should be sure to invest in a capable criminal defense to avoid all immediate and long-term consequences.