A previous post on this blog discussed how the use, possession and sale of marijuana is still illegal in Florida, except for medicinal purposes. In many cases, however, possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor. However, if a person has over 20 grams of marijuana in their possession, then police and prosecutors may charge them with possession with intent to distribute. This offense is a third-degree felony under Florida law, which means that a person can go to prison for up to five years, even for a first-time offense.
Those in Florida who are accused of this offense should be aware that prosecutors do not have to prove that they were actually planning to sell the marijuana or exchange it with others. All that must be shown is that the suspect was in possession of at least 20 grams of marijuana.
However, a resident of this state does have the right to hold the state to its burden of proof. In this respect, they have all the usual defenses to marijuana crimes available to them. For example, the police and prosecutors will have to prove that the person had possession of marijuana without authorization and knew or should have known as much. Prosecutors will also have to show that the police followed the law and respected the citizen's constitutional rights throughout the process.
Additionally, when it comes to proving intent to distribute, the state will have to show that the amount involved actually weighed more than 20 grams. While this may seem like a relatively straightforward process, sometimes, defenses are available.
An experienced criminal defense attorney in the Fort Meyers area can help a Florida resident review their defenses and go over their options.