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When Drug Misdemeanors Become Felonies

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When a person is found guilty of marijuana possession, whether the crime is considered a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the quantity found. If someone is discovered to have under 20 grams of marijuana, the crime is a misdemeanor. This means that he or she will face up to one year in jail and a fine of about $1000. If more than 20 grams are found, however, the crime is a felony, and the person could receive up to 5 years in prison. This 20-gram cutoff was set because it is a large enough amount that if a person has it, lawmakers assume that he or she is probably a dealer rather than a regular user. This is not always the case; sometimes marijuana users buy in bulk. Nevertheless, possessing over twenty grams of marijuana is always a felony.

While this 20 gram cutoff can cause a felony charge for possession of more than that, the presumption that over 20 grams is evidence of an intent to sell is not so clear. Just as some people buy products in bulk at Costco, because the cost per unit of measurement is less that way, so too some people that are consumers of cannabis will purchase in greater quantities for the same reason. They get a better price per gram and they are on the street buying with less frequency. Where the police decide to charge “possession with the intent to sell or deliver” and they use the quantity as the sole justification, we have had success in getting those charges reduced.

For example, possession of 4 ounces of cannabis may be evidence of an intention to sell some of it, but if that is all they have, it is weak evidence. Possession of 4 ounces of cannabis, together with possession of 20 empty small baggies, a set of scales with cannabis residue on it, and $2,000 in currency divided into $50 packs, wound with rubber bands, may be enough to convince a jury that you intend to sell some or all of your stash.

If a person is found in possession of other drugs without a prescription or the proper authority, regardless of the amount, Florida law states that this is a felony.

In rare cases a defendant could be charged with an attempt to commit a third-degree felony. That could reduce the offense to a misdemeanor.

If you or a loved one is arrested for any drug offense, Contact an attorney at The Defense Group online or call us at 407 743 8430 or 407-250-9557 to arrange a FREE CONSULTATION. We are available 24 hours a day in case of emergency, and if necessary, we are easily able to make appointments for nights or weekends.


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