Although Florida added a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana, the possession of marijuana without a medical card is still a criminal offense. Possession of less than twenty (20) grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $1,000 fine. Simple possession of over twenty (20) grams is felony with up to five (5) years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Recently, Floridians voted over 71 percent in favor of medical marijuana for patients with certain conditions. However, legalizing medical marijuana in Florida does not change the penalties for the illegal use. Sale, cultivation and distribution are still crimes if not done pursuant to the new medical marijuana constitutional amendment. Very few companies are authorized to grow and dispense medical marijuana.
Constructive possession means other than physical possession. In the world of criminal defense this usually means drugs or narcotics, firearms or other contraband are found but, not in the pocket or in the bra of the defendant. Constructive possession is an important concept for cases involving possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or a concealed firearm or weapon without a license. For example, you possess that television on your wall, you can move it, throw it away, and beat it with a baseball bat because you control it. However, no one carries around their flat screen in their back pocket.
Criminal and traffic defense can be a difficult area to practice. It seems that every time a constitutional protection might favor a person, the government finds a way to circumvent or change the law. A recent criminal traffic case of driving on a suspended license reminded me of a stop that, the fact that it is a legal stop, absolutely blows my mind.
Practicing criminal law or being involved in the criminal justice system is never boring. Recently a caller to 911 asked "where can I buy some marijuana this morning?" This call looking to buy pot from the police almost sounds like a joke.
Effective today, July 1, 2013 is a new law on drug paraphernalia. Typically a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia accompanies a charge of possession of drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or prescription drugs. This new law criminalizes the retail sale of drug paraphernalia.
Many criminal cases such as drug possession, drug trafficking and not just DUI or other criminal traffic charges begin with a mere traffic stop. Until recently, clients were advised that if they are driving a blue car and the registration states the registered vehicle is white then, that alone is a sufficient basis for a stop. This would mean that if a person purchased a used car that was white, registered it and then had it painted black with red flames the mere fact that the car was painted would cause an inconsistency with the registration sufficient to justify a traffic stop. Many times, this is where the officer says they smell marijuana or they have a dog that alerts to cocaine or other drugs. When drugs are found a person is charged with possession or drug trafficking. In other words, painting your car is going to get you stopped but only at the discretion of the officer's suspicion. While it may seem outrageous that you can be stopped merely for painting your car, that may appear suspicious to a government worker driving a government car who is not responsible for the government paint job. That and people who steal cars tend to switch the plates of similar make and model cars. Obviously, in the eyes of law enforcement officers anyone who paints their car is suspicious.