Possession of marijuana is a common drug offense due to the prevalance of homegrown marijuana in South Florida (for more information, read my blog entry on marijuana grow houses).
Possession of marijuana may only be a misdemeanor, but the State of Florida does not take drug crimes lightly. Aside from the possible jail time, probation time, and fine, the State will suspend your driver's license for 2 years if you are adjudicated guilty (convicted) of this offense. This is very important to know because at the bond hearing, the judge will almost always offer you a plea to close out your case immediately. If the judge offers you "credit for time served," this is an adjudication. Such a plea will suspend your driver's license.
I am a criminal attorney who handles marijuana possession cases in both Miami and Broward. Also, as a former Miami prosecutor, I have handled, and even tried before judges and juries, marijuana possession cases.
The first thing I do when I get a new marijuana possession case is look to see the facts of the encounter with the police officer. Obviously, the client was arrested, so there was some sort of interaction with the cop. How did the cop find the suspected marijuana? Did he or she have a right to search you or your car?
With marijuana possession cases, most of the officers making these arrests are street cops. They are not narcotics detectives or veteran law enforcement personnel who know how to properly obtain a search warrant, or how to lawfully execute a search. In fact, a good number of marijuana arrests occur due to an officer encounter over a traffic violation. A cop sees you speeding or maybe your window tints are too dark. They pull you over. Then somehow, they find what they suspect is marijuana. How the officer came to find this suspected marijuana is vital to your defense. If the officer did not have a right to search you or your car, the marijuana can be suppressed, and the criminal charges will be dropped.
For first-time offenders, however, you may be eligible for Pretrial Diversion. Call my office to discuss your eligilibilty, and how you could benefit from this program. Most of my clients who accept Pretrial Diversion are able to successfully complete their classes and conditions in a short period of time. This will result in a dismissal of all charges, and then, if you are eligible to have you record sealed or expunged, I will begin the process of clearing the arrest.
Other options may be a withhold of adjudication (which will not suspend your driver's license), and court costs with no probation or fine. Other options may be available, but each case is unique and requires individual consultation. Contact me, a criminal defense lawyer who defends clients charged with marijuana possession in both Miami and Broward. I offer free consultations by phone or in person, by appointment, to all prospective clients.
Furthermore, this blog entry deals with possession of marijuana less than 20 grams, which is a misdemeanor. Possession with intent to sell, or possession over 20 grams, are felony crimes. I represent clients charged with felonies, yet those cases require different approaches as every felony exposes a client to possible prison time. Still, if your charges are misdemeanor or felony, please call my office to discuss your matter.