Eric J. Dirga, P.A.

A Florida Trial Attorney

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Florida Marijuana Penalties

Florida Possession Cannabis; Penalties

Criminal Defense Representation - Orlando, Florida

Last Updated: May 27, 2016

Marijuana is also known as Cannabis. Florida continues to list cannabis as a Shedule I drug. This means Florida considers it highly addictive with no medical use. It also means any possession or other use of this drug is strictly prohibited.

Marijuana Possession Penalties

Possession of Less than 20 Grams

Possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis is a first degree misdemeanor in Florida. This is punishable by up to 1-year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000.00. An alternative to sentencing is probation. A court can place a person charged with misdemeanor cannabis possession on probation in lieu of a sentence for up to 1-year.

Often times courts will simply fine a person charged with a misdemeanor amount of cannabis. Unfortunately, this has led many to believe there is no harm if you are caught with marijuana. This is completely false. Having an arrest record indicating a charge of possessing cannabis can have a devastating future impact on a person's life.

Possession of 20 Grams or More of Cannabis

Possession above 20 grams is a felony. Punishment for felony possession of cannabis is up to 5-years in prison and up to a $5,000.00 fine. Those are the maximum penalties. The court can, as an alternative to sentencing, place a person charged with possessing 20 grams or more of cannabis on probation for up to 5-years.

The Probation Alternative

Often times in lieu of being sentenced the Court can place you on a term of probation. The maximum term for a misdemeanor is 12 months. The maximum term for a felony is 5-years (for simple possession).

Probation is often, if not always, laced with special conditions. These are things that must be done while on probation. It often includes substance abuse evaluations and counseling, and urine screens to check for current drug use.

A person can violate probation by failing to comply with the general and special conditions of probation. A violation of felony probation will usually result in being held in jail on a no-bond status until the violation charge is resolved. Note: Testing positive for use of drugs is a violation of probation and can result in a jail sentence.

Collateral Consequences Of Possession Marijuana

Often overlooked until after an arrest has occurred is the impact of it on a person's future. Immediate consequences can be a 1-year drivings license revocation. Future consequenses include lost job opportunities such as those in the medical field. It is difficult to predict future employer requirements but it must be accepted that in today's world arrest data (unless expunged) is easily assessible and considered by businesses when they hire.

Diversion Programs For Possessing Marijuana

You may also qualify for a Diversion Program. This is a State run program. The State Attorney's Office may offer it to you, they may not. Diversion is a program run by either the Community Corrections (if a misdemeanor) or the Department of Corrections (if a felony). If offered and accepted, you will have to report to probation and complete the program within a specific period of time. The program typically consists of a substance abuse evaluation, follow-up treatment, and community service. Substance abuse evaluations are done by many different contractors. Your attorney should be able to advise you which ones are not just money mills.

Drug Court

Drug Court is an option for felony offenders. Drug court is a great program if you want to quit using drugs. If you think it is a great way to avoid jail, it is not. It is intense and there are people there to help you if you sincerely want their help. Otherwise a sentence, probation, or diversion are better alternatives if you have no viable defenses to put before a jury or that can get the case dismissed prior to trial.

There Are Legal Defenses to Possession Charges

There are defenses to possessing pot. Don't think that you don't have any chance of beating the charge before you have a frank discusion of the facts and circumstances of your case with a criminal defense attorney. After you explain what happened most defenses will be apparant and you'll be able to discuss the possibilities with your attorney. What you should do now is try and remember everything that happened and write it down so that you can remember it at the consultation.

Arrested and charged with a drug offense? Call us now at 407-841-5555 or email us directly at

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