Marijuana Cultivation Charges in Florida
One could hardly wish for a better place to grow plants than Florida. Part of its appeal as a destination for retirees is that seniors can spend their days primping the hibiscus bushes and bougainvillea vines in front of their houses and pick oranges and grapefruit from the trees in the backyard for breakfast. Florida laws are not so friendly toward the cultivation of one particular plant, though, namely several cultivars of the genus Cannabis. Even as more and more states move toward decriminalizing recreational use of marijuana, you can still get in trouble in Florida if some of the plants that have put down roots on your property have dark green, pointy leaves and an earthy smell that neither patchouli oil nor night blooming jasmine can mask. Marihuana cultivation is still a crime in Florida, so if the police find your pot plants, you should call a South Florida drug crimes defense lawyer.
Florida vs. the Wondrous Weed
Section 893.13(1)(a) of Florida law, which defines the “manufacture” of illegal drugs, includes the word “cultivation” in its definition of the word “manufacture.” In other words, you can face criminal charges simply for growing marijuana plants on your property. The Florida Domestic Marijuana Eradication Program is a law enforcement initiative designed to uproot marijuana plants and punish the plants’ owners for growing them. It has led to the arrest of more than 9,000 people and the destruction of tens of thousands of plants.
In practice, most marijuana cultivation charges in Florida are third degree felonies, punishable by a 5-year maximum prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. If you have 25 plants or more, though, it is a second-degree felony, and the punishment can be up to 15 years in prison. It can even be a first-degree felony if children live in the house where you are growing the plants.
Marijuana Cultivation Charges and Your Constitutional Rights
If you face criminal charges for growing marijuana plants, just like if you face any other kind of criminal charges, the rights of defendants in criminal cases still apply to you. You have the right to have an attorney present whenever you must deal with police or prosecutors, and you are not subject to any punishment unless you plead guilty or a jury finds you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The following are circumstances in which you might not be convicted of marijuana cultivation after being charged:
- There is reasonable doubt that you knew that the plants were on your property or that they were sativa or C. indica plants
- The police searched your house without a warrant
You could also try to get the charges reduced by arguing that you had no intention of distributing the cannabis, especially if you only had one plant and did not have paraphernalia such as baggies.
Contact Us Today for Help
Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer can make the difference between a prison sentence and walking free after marijuana cultivation charges. Contact a Florida drug offense attorney at the FL Drug Defense Group to discuss your case.