Possession of marijuana (cannabis) less than 20 grams is one of the most common misdemeanor charges in Miami-Dade County and Broward County. That’s because officers are trained to detect marijuana and can often locate it during an encounter if a person has marijuana on their person or in their vehicle.
The most common manner in which a person is arrested or issued a written promise to appear (PTA) for marijuana possession is during a traffic stop.
This is because a traffic stop is a legal invitation for an officer to compel you into an encounter. If your car is pulled over for a traffic violation, you are not free to leave for the time being and the officer is free to observe. This includes sights and smells.
The most common reason for a marijuana arrest during a traffic stop is the smell of marijuana. Under Florida law, the smell of marijuana alone is enough to permit the officer to search your entire vehicle, including the trunk.
It doesn’t matter if the marijuana has been smoked or not. Officers will tell you that marijuana has a distinct odor. Whether it has been burnt or whether it is in raw form, an officer may claim to smell it when they stop you. If so, they may search your car.
You can also be arrested for possession of marijuana if you have it on your person and you are being lawfully detained. If you are lawfully detained for some reason and the officer pats you down and feels the baggie through your clothing, you can be arrested.
As well, if the officer simply asks you if you have anything on you and you tell them, that is sufficient grounds to be searched and arrested, too.
The most important thing I can tell you as a Miami possession of marijuana lawyer and Broward possession of marijuana lawyer is that you should never smoke marijuana in your car or keep marijuana in your car. You should also never keep it on your person.
If you are going to smoke marijuana, do so in the privacy of your own home where an officer cannot simply come in without legal justification.
Marijuana possession in Miami-Dade and Broward is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in county jail. If convicted, you face a mandatory two-year driver’s license suspension.
Broward County has Drug Court for marijuana possession while Miami-Dade does not. Diversion may be available to first-time offenders if they qualify. Speak to a criminal defense attorney about your diversion eligibility.