Take a look at the news these days and it would appear that the country is slowly working its way towards legalizing marijuana for a number of reasons. Matters are not quite there yet, however, and possession of the substance is still considered strictly illegal in Florida. Even if you are caught with less than 20 grams of it – there are 453.5 grams in a single pound, by the way – for your own personal use, you can be slammed with up to a one year jail sentence. More than that? You’ll have to watch out for a sentencing of up to five years in prison if you are convicted. Plus, if you are adjudicated guilty, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will administratively suspend your driver’s license for two years.
There are a few things you should know ahead of time in case you ever are arrested and charged with marijuana possession crimes. Keeping them in mind could be what makes or breaks your chances of a beneficial outcome to your case.
- Medical marijuana is not available: Florida has not opened any medical marijuana stores despite the legislature passing legislation in 2014 to the contrary. Thus, if you are caught with marijuana, you cannot expect to find leniency from the law, even if you have a medical note or permit, as these could be deemed illegitimate considering no such medical marijuana stores exist as of November 2015.
- Quantity in question: Just how much marijuana did you allegedly have on your person when you were arrested? If it is a minimal amount, or stored in such a way that there is no indication that there was intent to sell or distribute it to others, you might be able to argue for lessened charges, such as a misdemeanor.
- Validity of the arrest: When you are already arrested and thus, searched for drugs and other illegal paraphernalia, the police are technically performing a search and seizure of your property. If there was no reasonable explanation as to why law enforcement officials decided to detain you in the first place, the prosecution’s evidence might be inadmissible, regardless of what substances they found on you.
- Fifth Amendment rights: Of course, you should know that you do have the right to remain silent and not speak until you are represented by an attorney. This can be done by saying that you want to use your Fifth Amendment rights at any time. If questioning persists after your declaration, especially if after you specifically requested an attorney, you could challenge the legitimacy of any resulting statement. Thus, tell law enforcement you want to speak to an attorney, and all questions must end.
Don’t Hesitate to Seek Legal Counsel
Speaking of the Fifth Amendment, you should seriously consider hiring a private attorney to represent you in your case. Public Defenders are notoriously overworked and cannot devote their time and attention to the cases with which they are assigned, especially when compared to the services provide by a privately retained attorney. This means you could be paired with a Public Defender unable to spend the time and attention to detail in your case with which you deserve. Your freedoms are on the line, and a drug conviction can ruin your entire future, destroying your career and limiting your earning power in a financial manner much larger than the expense of hiring private counsel. Thus, hire private counsel today.
Panama City Criminal Defense Attorney Albert J. Sauline, III is entirely focused on the protection of the rights of the criminally accused. In his 10+ years of legal experience, he has been awarded with numerous accolades and achievements, including “Best of Bay 2015 – Best Attorney in Bay County” by the Panama City News Herald. Find out why so many people are raving about his law firm. Call 850.250.3426 for a free phone consultation.