Simple Marijuana Possession – What Can Happen to Me?
Of course you would never smoke marijuana but your “friend” got arrested for marijuana possession and you want to know what happens next. One of two things happens when you’re arrested for marijuana, or “cannabis” as it’s referred to by statute in the State of Florida. If you’re lucky (or the officer was too lazy to process you through the jail system) you were allowed to sign what’s known as a PTA (promise to appear) at the scene of your arrest. This means you got to sleep in your own bed that night. The promise to appear is an option for officers arresting suspects of certain misdemeanor crimes. The arrestee signs the arrest affidavit and promises to appear at the first court setting, usually an arraignment. But if you made the cop work to find the marijuana, or he believes that marijuana is the devil’s weed, you’ll likely take a trip to the jail. When you get to the jail you need to be processed. This can take from anywhere between 4 and 24 hours. Once you’ve been processed a friend or a love one can pay the standard bond of $1,000.00 to get you out of jail. If they use a bondsman they have to put down 10% of the bond ($100). If you’re unpopular and nobody wants to bond you out, you have to wait till you go before the judge. This is known as your first appearance and the Judge will decide the conditions of your release before your trial.
The best possible outcome is you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney and after reviewing the facts surrounding your arrest they see a problem in the State’s case and find a way to get the charge dismissed. Congrats! You successfully made the system work for you and please don’t forget to pay your attorney.
The next best outcome is qualifying for a pre-trial diversion program, known in Miami Dade County as PTD. This is a program for first time offenders where participants take a 4 hour class on the dangers of drugs, remain out of trouble for a few months, and pay program and court costs. At the end of the program term, the State will dismiss the charges against you.
If you don’t qualify for the pre-trial diversion program because of your criminal past, or for some other reason, you will try to plea to a withhold of adjudication. This is an outcome to the case that will be on your criminal record but it is not a conviction! If you are asked on applications whether you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, you can still say no.
Arguably the worst outcome to a marijuana possession charge is the adjudication, also known as a conviction. It is the worst not only because it’s on your criminal record but because cannabis falls in the Florida Statute books under Section 893. A conviction for a crime in Section 893 carries a mandatory 2 year driver’s license suspension. As if the license suspension wasn’t bad enough, a marijuana conviction could land you in jail for up to 364 days in Florida.
In conclusion, advise your “friend” to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A simple marijuana charge if not handled appropriately can lead to consequences down the line that effect job opportunities and the status of your driver’s license. All too often those accused of a crime accept plea deals without understanding the consequences that follow.
“Pagan & Stroleny, P.L., founded by Christopher Pagan and Julian Stroleny, is dedicated to serving those in need of a criminal defense lawyer in the Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Palm Beach areas. If you have been charged with crimes ranging from federal offenses, felony offenses, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, battery on law enforcement officer, burglary, child abuse, drug possession, cultivation, trafficking, sale, grand theft, homicide, kidnapping, probation violations, resisting officer with violence, robbery, sex crimes, DUI, DUI manslaughter, DUI property damage, DUI serious bodily injury, assault, battery, cannabis possession, marijuana, disorderly conduct, disorderly intoxication, domestic violence, drinking in public, petit theft, retail theft, prostitution, resisting officer without violence, trespass, driving with license suspended, leaving the scene of an accident, no valid driver’s license, racing, or reckless driving, give us a call at (305) 615-1285 or visit us online at www.pslaw.org.”