Even if you’re a first-time offender, marijuana possession is a serious crime in Florida. State laws outline a sentence for small marijuana possession (under 20 grams) as a misdemeanor punishable by maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 1 year’s sentence in prison.
It is possible for Florida residents with no record who are charged with a misdemeanor or first-time offender marijuana possession to be diverted to Pre-trial Intervention. This commonly happens when there are no additional crimes involved, and you do not have any previous criminal history.
The least an officer in Florida may do upon charging you with a misdemeanor for first-time offender marijuana possession is issue a ticket without making an arrest. However, if you are found guilty of a marijuana misdemeanor and are convicted, this will also add more complications to your case. For instance, if convicted, you may lose your license for up to two years and will also be required to complete a probation program that includes random drug screening. Other issues that commonly arise with small marijuana possession are jail time, ineligibility for college financial assistance and various limitations that may permanently hinder your plans in the future.
It’s important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney before you go to court. Without proper representation and a legal strategy to state your case, you may regret it after receiving the harshest penalties possible, but it will be too late.
How do Florida’s Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) drug diversion programs work?
According to the Florida Bar Journal, Florida’s PTI program is “provided for through F.S. §948.08 and §948.16. The stated statutory intent of the program is to provide counseling, supervision, education, and, when applicable, medical and psychological services… the misdemeanor programs can be monitored through contract agencies such as Salvation Army Correctional Services.”
To qualify for PTI, a Florida resident must be convicted of no more than one nonviolent misdemeanor, but eligibility still does not guarantee this option will be granted to you. PTI programs are assigned on a case-by-case basis.
What must happen to be eligible for PTI in Florida?
Besides the basic qualifications of no former nonviolent misdemeanor, it requires that the defendant has also, “consulted with an attorney; voluntarily agrees to participate in the program; knowingly and intelligently waives the right to speedy trial for the duration of the program; and has the consent of the victim, the state, and the judge.” There is just one exception, where you could be accepted into a pre-trial intervention program by motion of any parties or by a motion of the court.
The PTI requires at least 90 days of participation, and may continue for 180 days if the report given by the program administrator is unsatisfactory.
Other circumstances that may affect eligibility for the PTI include acceptance of guilt/responsibility (which can be waived if this will affect employment or trigger termination), notice of employer/school visits with probation officer, and preclusion to expunction.
Have you been charged with misdemeanor first-time offender marijuana possession?
The best thing you can do if you’ve been charged with marijuana possession in Florida is speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Dean Tsourakis can help you receive the best outcome for your situation. Call today to set up your free confidential consultation.
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on Jul 28, 2016