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Will I be charged with a misdemeanor or felony?

Under Florida law, whether you are charged with misdemeanor or felony marijuana charges depends on how much of the substance was involved, the type of marijuana and whether the alleged offense occurred near a school.

Being charged with possession of marijuana paraphernalia is a misdemeanor and is punishable by one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. A conviction for selling or possessing marijuana concentrates and hashish is an automatic felony, no matter how much of the substance was found.

For regular marijuana, possession or sale of 20 grams or less is a misdemeanor and carries a one-year sentence and a fine of $1,000 for possession and $10,000 for selling. More than 20 grams means you could be facing felony charges, and being convicted of selling 25 pounds or more of marijuana includes mandatory minimum sentences, ranging from 3 to 15 years in prison, depending on the amount.

Those convicted of possessing more than 20 grams of marijuana do not have to deal with mandatory minimum sentences, but they can still be facing 5 to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. In some cases, defendants may also have their driver's licenses suspended for up to two years.

Although marijuana is being slowly legalized around the country for both medicinal and recreational use, the Florida court system still comes down hard on defendants charged with drug crimes. However, in some cases, alternative defense strategies like plea bargains may be applicable. A criminal defense attorney is key to navigating the court process and helping you understand your options.

Source: NORML, "Florida Laws & Penalties," accessed April. 02, 2015

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