If you are a college student, white- or blue-collar worker or just an average resident of Florida caught with “recreational drugs,” the amount you have is an important consideration. In fact, it can be the difference between a felony or misdemeanor charge of drug possession, as well as the difference in penalties.
FindLaw explains that, in deciding what charges to bring against an offender, many factors are weighed, including the amount and the type of drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine or others. For marijuana possession of fewer than 20 grams, state law allows a misdemeanor charge. A charge of “possession with intent to sell” must carry proof of your plan to distribute or sell it. If you have cocaine or another drug, you may be charged with the same crime, but as a felony.
To establish a case against you, the prosecution first has to prove the drug is illegal, which typically is established by lab analysis. The prosecutor must also prove that you knew or should have known about the drug and whether it is illegal. Finally, prosecutors need to show that you controlled the location and presence of the drug.
Here is a look at how some drug possession charges are categorized (these charges do not apply to medical marijuana):
- Third-degree felony: Heroin or opiates weighing up to 4 g; marijuana over 20 g; cocaine up to 28 g; LSD up to 1 g; or ecstasy up to 10 g
- First-degree felony: LSD over 1 g; cocaine over 38 g; heroin or opiates over 4 g; marijuana more than 25 lbs.
- First-degree misdemeanor: Marijuana up to 20 g; however, if you have four or more misdemeanor priors, you may face stiffer penalties
Your attorney may argue several points in your defense, including police entrapment, illegal search and seizure or that you have a prescription. In addition, you can argue ignorance of the drug’s illegal status or that you use cannabis in agreement with the state’s medical marijuana regulation.
This information about drug possession is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice.