The type and amount of a substance allegedly found by law enforcement determines whether a Florida drug possession charge classifies as a misdemeanor or felony. In some municipalities, individuals found with less than 20 grams of cannabis may face a misdemeanor charge. If convicted, penalties may include a fine and up to one year in jail, as reported by the Marijuana Policy Project.
An individual found with more than 20 grams of marijuana could face a third-degree felony possession charge. Other illicit substances that fall within this sentencing category include heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Penalties upon conviction can include up to five years of imprisonment.
When law enforcement officials find an individual in possession of a large volume of an illegal substance, it may result in a first-degree felony charge. A judge may order a defendant to pay a fine of up to $250,000 and spend up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
As reported by Spectrum Bay News 9, Florida still considers marijuana an illegal substance. Individuals with a valid prescription for medicinal marijuana may not face a charge when found with the legally allowable limit. If a Florida resident allegedly sells a prescription to someone else, however, it may bring a felony charge for possession with intent to distribute.
Proof of intent to sell or distribute
A misdemeanor charge for simple drug possession could become a felony charge if law enforcement suspects an individual had intent to sell or distribute. Finding plastic baggies or drug paraphernalia in addition to an illegal substance may provide the required evidence.
Felony intent to distribute charges could also come from selling lawful substances, such as prescription pills. To obtain a conviction, however, a prosecutor must prove that a defendant intended to sell a controlled substance.