Simple Drug Possession: Under 20 Grams of Marijuana
Don’t let the term “simple possession” or “misdemeanor possession” fool you; there is nothing minor about a simple drug possession charge in Orlando. Even a charge for a nonviolent, misdemeanor crime such as possessing fewer than 20 grams of marijuana will lead to consequences without the interference of a drug defense lawyer. While many counties in Florida are moving to decriminalizing marijuana, it is still illegal in much of Central Florida.
It’s important to remember that marijuana is still federally-controlled and classified as a Schedule I substance, meaning that penalties are no cakewalk. A simple drug possession charge will establish a criminal history that can affect many areas of your life. If you were recently arrested in Orlando for simple possession, criminal defense attorneys with The Umansky Law Firm are available to help you proceed through the justice system.
What is Simple Possession?
Simple possession describes the offense of possessing up to and including twenty grams of marijuana. It is a first-degree misdemeanor offense which could lead to jail time, probation, fines, and other penalties.The prosecution must show that the defendant (you) was in actual or constructive possession of 20 or fewer grams of marijuana and that you knew that you were in possession of the substance to prove simple possession.
Actual vs. Constructive Marijuana Possession
Being in “actual possession” of a controlled substance like marijuana means that police discovered the substance in the defendant’s hand or otherwise on his or her person and in immediate reach. Additionally, mere proximity to a controlled substance is not enough to establish that the defendant had control over the substance; the substance could have been discovered near the defendant while he or she was in a location under someone else’s control. An example of this is if you were caught near marijuana at a friend’s house, it would be challenging to prove you were in “possession” of the substance because the location was not under your control.
Constructive possession means that the defendant was not in physical possession of the substance; instead, the substance was found in a place over which the defendant had complete control, such as in the defendant’s home or his or her vehicle. The defendant must also have known that the controlled substance was in such a location.
Proving Cannabis Possession in Orlando
Although society is slowly coming around to marijuana use, Florida’s marijuana laws are still among the most strict in the nation. Although many cities like Orlando have implemented civil citations for people caught with under 20 grams of marijuana, the ticket still goes on your record meaning that potential employers, landlords, and even college admissions officers will be able to discover your criminal past. It is also up to the police officer who finds the marijuana to determine whether to issue a civil citation or arrest the suspect.
To prove simple marijuana possession, the prosecution must establish three elements:
- The defendant possessed a controlled substance (whether actual or constructive possession).
- The substance in question was cannabis, and the amount discovered was 20 or fewer grams.
- The defendant knew about the presence of the substance.
Unfortunately, in Florida, the State is not required to prove that the defendant knew the substance he or she possessed was illegal at the time he or she is arrested for drug possession. Simply knowing that the substance was present is enough to support a conviction.
Criminal Penalties for Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession
A first-degree misdemeanor conviction for simple possession may lead to:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to 1 year of probation
- A fine of up to $1,000.00
The consequences of a conviction extend far beyond the justice system. You may face:
- Driver’s license revocation
- Random drug testing during probation
- Substance abuse evaluation
- The responsibility of paying the costs of supervision, including court fees and completing all the conditions of probation
- Ineligibility for government employment
- Ineligibility for public housing
- Ineligibility for state financial aid for college
- Being rejected from colleges and jobs due to a criminal conviction
Don’t allow one mistake to leave a permanent mark on your reputation. The Umansky Law Firm is a full-service criminal defense firm in Orlando dedicated to providing second chances. We are former prosecutors who will provide a unique advantage to your case. See what we can do for you by contacting us online or call our office for a free consultation.