Free Consultation 407.705.3220
More Than 1000 Criminal Cases Handled Comprehensive Care for People Facing Challenges with the Law

Mary Jane: Trap Queen

mjqueen Mary Jane, Pot, Weed, (about a hundred or more names [1]) whatever you call it, the courts and the Florida Legislature officially call it Cannabis. And they officially disapprove of your possession of said substance until the laws on the books say otherwise, unlike about 20 other States [2] who have already approved its use for Medical Purposes and the like. Yeah, yeah, yeah… you aren’t supposed to have it – BUT, if you get caught with it in your possession, it’s a bigger deal than you might realize. In fact, Florida dislikes this herb so much that it is a First Degree Misdemeanor to have it, meaning you can face up to a year in county jail and be required to pay up to a $1,000 fine if you are caught with less than 20 grams (about the same weight as 20 paperclips) worth. Have more than that amount and you’re looking at a 3 rd Degree Felony, facing up to five (5) years in prison and a $5,000 fine. On top of those penalties, there’s a secret little snowball “collateral consequence” to a conviction – a two (2) year Driver’s License Suspension. Yep, that’s right.. TWO YEARS, NO DRIVING.

BUT YOU SAID I COULD!!!

Slow down there, Chief. While it is true that some counties and cities in the Sunshine State have voted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. Just recently, the City Beautiful (aka Orlando), voted by a narrow margin to give an Orlando Police Department Officer the discretion to issue a civil citation to a person holding less than 20g of marijuana. Remember that scene in Cinderella where the Stepmother said “IF”? It’s like that. Discretion is just that, discretionary.

dis·cre·tion

dəˈskreSH(ə)n/ noun: the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation. Remember if you will, law enforcement officers already have the discretion to confiscate small amounts of marijuana without making an arrest. They can do nothing or they can issue a Notice to Appear or even in some instances, they even issue a criminal citation and tell a defendant that they can simply pay the ticket. But that, in itself, is still a trap. Paying the “ticket” will give a person a Withhold of Adjudication (not a conviction), but it is still a CRIMINAL charge and will still show up on your criminal record. Cities and counties in Florida have started making this more official, but remember, it is still an OPTION and is DISCRETIONARY, but it means that they can STILL MAKE AN ARREST.

Where can you take Mary Jane dancing without (discretionally) getting arrested?[3]

  • Miami-Dade County passed an ordinance that gives police the discretion not to arrest those caught with less than 20 grams of marijuana. Instead, an officer might write a civil citation resulting in a $100 fine. The ordinance went into effect July 10, 2015, making Miami-Dade the first county to explore decriminalization.
  • Miami Beach unanimously passed a similar ordinance, also applying to less than 20 grams of marijuana and also resulting in a discretionary $100 civil fine.
  • Hallandale Beach followed suit: Effective September 19, 2015, possession of 20 grams or less can result in only a $100 fine.
  • Key West commissioners voted unanimously to give police the discretion of issuing $100 civil fines in lieu of making arrests for 20 grams or less of marijuana.
  • West Palm Beach joined the trend in September 2015 when it approved a measure that gives police the discretion of $100 fines instead of arrests for 20 grams or less.
  • Broward County unanimously approved an ordinance giving police the discretion to issue $100 civil fines rather than arrests for those caught with 20 grams or less. Fines would be $250 for second offenses and $500 for third offenses. An ordinance much like Broward County’s was passed by its city of Wilton Manors,near Ft. Lauderdale.
  • Palm Beach County commissioners voted 4-1 to give police the discretion to issue a $100 civil fine for possession of up to 20 grams of marijuana.
  • This year, Volusia County, which includes Daytona Beach, became the first county in central Florida to join the trend when the council unanimously passed an ordinance giving officers discretion to issue $100 tickets, again for possession of up to 20 grams.
  • Also in March 2016, Tampa passed an ordinance giving police the discretion of issuing a civil fine, rather than arresting, those caught with 20 grams or less of marijuana. The amount would increase each time, from $75 to $150 to $300 to a maximum of $450 for the fourth offense.
Most recently in April, 2016, the City of Orlando voted 4-3 to approve the ordinance, which would make possession of 20 grams (about two-thirds of an ounce) or less a violation of city code carrying a $50 fine for first-time offenders. The council plans to take a final vote on the measure on May 9. If approved then, it would take effect immediately. [4] Remember, marijuana is STILL ILLEGAL IN FLORIDA. A law enforcement officer can STILL pull your car over, stop you, search you, search your car, etc. if they smell weed. They can STILL arrest you. It is STILL a crime. Your license can STILL get suspended. This can STILL go on your record. So, be smart. And if Mary Jane does get you in trouble again, especially on her "birthday," call us. tumblr_n0h35rD0F11t6y8g0o1_500

For any questions about this blog post, or for more information, contact Colbert Law at (407) 705-3220.

______________________________

[1] http://www.rollitup.org/t/all-the-names-for-marijuana.76748/
[2] https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000881
[3] https://www.mpp.org/states/florida/decriminalization-is-sweeping-florida-one-city-at-a-time/
[4] http://www.orlandosentinel.com/orlando-marijuana-decriminalize-vote-20160418-story.html