Felony Marijuana Arrests In Okaloosa & Walton Counties

Criminal Defense Lawyer Details The Penalties And Defense Strategies For Possession & Sales

See Specific Marijuana Sales Info
See Specific Marijuana Possession Info

While some states have opened up their laws regarding Marijuana possession, Florida has been slow to change and law enforcement has doubled-down on marijuana enforcement.

Here in Okaloosa and Walton County and across the Florida Panhandle, we have seen arrest rates for marijuana possession skyrocket. One of the reasons this is so is because marijuana arrests are an easy target for police.

All they think they need to have for a probable cause search during a traffic stop is the “odor of marijuana.” As a result, very little effort goes into these types of investigations and law enforcement officers can pad their numbers on what would be considered a crime of marginal importance to public safety.

Nevertheless, we can only react to this measure of increased enforcement, especially where there has been a greater focus on pursuing felony charges related to pot possession.

Where in the past, we might see officers content to charge simply a misdemeanor level possession of marijuana charge or possession of paraphernalia charge, that is not the situation today.

Officers have been directed to try to charge the suspect with the highest level offense possible when it comes to pot and other drug related crimes.

The net result is that more and more people are being arrested for higher level offenses and serious felonies related to marijuana even when the amount of drug contraband is less than one ounce.

From possession over 20 grams, possession with intent to sell, sale, cultivation, or even possession of a marijuana or THC product even with a valid out of state prescription…. in Florida, it is possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, which automatically makes it a felony charge.

Felony Sales of Marijuana In Okaloosa County & Walton County

Per Florida Statute 893.13, a person who either sells, delivers, or possesses with intent to sell over twenty grams of cannabis (marijuana) is guilty of a third degree felony. The State is required to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction:

  1. The defendant either sold, delivered, purchased, or possessed with intent to sell or deliver a certain substance.
  2. The certain substance was cannabis.
  3. The defendant had knowledge of the presence of the cannabis.

The State is also required to prove that the cannabis weighed at least twenty grams. If the act of selling, delivering, purchasing, or possessing with intent to sell or deliver occurred within one thousand feet of a school, child care facility, park, community center, college, church or convenience business (gas station), the defendant may be charged with a second degree felony.

It should be noted that the State may achieve the required twenty grams of cannabis through any part of plant, including seeds. The term “sell” is defined as the transferring or delivering something for something else of value or the promise of something else of value.

The term “deliver” or “delivery” in the context of sale of marijuana is defined as the actual, constructive, or attempted transfer of marijuana from one person to another.

The Penalties For Felony Sales Of Marijuana In Okaloosa County & Walton County

The penalties for selling, delivering, or possessing marijuana with intent to sell include up to five years probation or prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

If the crime occurred within one thousand feet of a school, childcare facility, park, community center, college, church or convenience business, the penalty may be up to fifteen years probation or prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Per Florida Statute 322.055, a conviction for sales or delivery will also result in the revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license.

Criminal Defense For Felony Sale Of Marijuana

Numerous defenses and strategies exist for the crime or sales, delivery, or possession with intent to sell marijuana. Under the law there are two types of possession: actual and constructive.

Actual possession is defined as the person being aware of the presence of the cannabis and the cannabis is in the person’s hands or a container he or she is carrying or so close as to be within ready reach and the person’s control.

Constructive possession is defined as the person being aware of the cannabis, the cannabis is in a place where the person has control, and the person has the ability to control the cannabis. A person’s mere proximity to the cannabis is insufficient on its under the law to establish control.

To establish constructive possession, the State must prove that the defendant had knowledge of the cannabis and actually exerted control over it. Similarly, if the cannabis is alleged to be jointly possessed (possessed by more than one person), knowledge, dominion and control must be proven. Lack of knowledge of the presence of the cannabis is also a defense.

Felony Possession of Marijuana In Okaloosa County & Walton County

Under Florida law, a person who possesses twenty or more grams of cannabis commits the crime of felony possession of marijuana. The State is required to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to achieve a conviction:

  1. The defendant knew of the presence of the controlled substance.
  2. The defendant exercised control or ownership over the controlled substance.
  3. The controlled substance was cannabis.
  4. The cannabis weighed over twenty grams.

It should be noted that the State may achieve the required twenty grams of cannabis through any part of plant, including seeds. However, the State may not satisfy the weight requirement through resin extracted from the cannabis plant.

The Penalties For Felony Possession Of Marijuana In Okaloosa County & Walton County

The penalty for felony marijuana possession includes up to five years probation or prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Per Florida Statute 322.055, a conviction for felony possession of marijuana will also result in the revocation of the defendant’s driver’s license.

Criminal Defense For Felony Possession Of Marijuana

Numerous defenses and strategies exist for the felony possession of marijuana. Under the law there are two types of possession: actual and constructive.

Actual possession is defined as the person being aware of the presence of the cannabis and the cannabis is in the person’s hands or a container he or she is carrying or so close as to be within ready reach and the person’s control.

Constructive possession is defined as the person being aware of the cannabis, the cannabis is in a place where the person has control, and the person has the ability to control the cannabis.

A person’s mere proximity to the cannabis is insufficient on its under the law to establish control. To establish constructive possession, the State must prove that the defendant had knowledge of the cannabis and actually exerted control over it.

Similarly, if the cannabis is alleged to have been jointly possessed (possessed by more than one person), knowledge, dominion and control must be proven.

Lack of knowledge of the presence of the cannabis is also a defense. A valid prescription for medical cannabis or low-THC marijuana can also serve as a defense.

However, per Florida Statute 381.986(1)(h), if the defendant is not a resident of Florida and the prescription does not originate from a qualified Florida medical professional, the prescription cannot serve as a valid defense.

If you or a family member has been arrested for felony possession of marijuana or felony sale of marijuana, give me a call at (850) 362-6655 for a free evaluation.