Marijuana Cultivation in Florida: Factors that Impact the Severity of Charges
Posted on July 16, 2013 in: Felonies
Drug crimes – including cultivating or growing marijuana – violate Florida’s state laws as well as federal laws. A felony conviction on charges of cultivating cannabis/marijuana can result in serious penalties such as jail time and fines.
The state has established minimum sentencing guidelines in drug crimes. Some factors will impact – and in some cases heighten – drug charges. These factors include but are not limited to the amount of the controlled substance found and whether or not minor children were found at the scene or if the crime took place near a childcare facility.
Florida laws also make it possible in some cases for an individual to be charged with cultivating marijuana even when the plants are not in the suspect’s actual physical possession.
A Quick Look at How the State Defines Cultivation of Marijuana
Florida law includes cannabis (marijuana, weed, pot, etc.) in its list of banned controlled substances. Anyone who attempts to manufacture – in this case, grow – a controlled substance is in violation of state and federal laws.
The term “grow house” is commonly assigned to structures where a high number of marijuana plants are found. The threshold is typically 25 plants or more. According to a 2011 Sun Sentinel article, Florida topped the nation in terms of the number of illegal grow houses seized by state and federal agencies on an annual basis.
The state considers many other acts associated with the cultivation of marijuana to fall under the definition of manufacture including:
- extracting substances from the plants; and
- packaging the plants.
An Overview of the Penalties for the Cultivation of Marijuana
Florida divides marijuana cultivation into several categories. A suspect may face first-degree felony charges in cases where minors are living at or in residence of a so-called grow house. Penalties include up to 30 years imprisonment, and fines can range from $10,000 to $200,000. The amount is, again, based on the number of plants seized.
The accused may face lesser charges – specifically, second-or third-degree felony charges – if there are no minors present, but the suspect is believed to be in possession of the grow house. This is true in cases where 25 or more marijuana plants are found. Penalties may include up to 15 years imprisonment. Fines may range from $5,000 to $10,000.
Establishing Charges for the Cultivation of Marijuana
The state may bring charges against a suspect if it can provide reasonable evidence to show the suspect was in actual possession or constructive possession of the marijuana plants in question.
Actual possession indicates that the individual was in physical possession of the plants. An example might be if a suspect was found carrying a duffel bag full of marijuana seedlings.
Constructive possession is more complicated to prove. It indicates that the marijuana plants were discovered in a location where more than one person has access (a shared house, apartment, multi-family homes). In these cases, a prosecutor must prove that the suspect was aware of the marijuana’s presence, knew what the plants were, and had control over the plants.
If you have been charged with the cultivation of marijuana, contact a defense attorney who is familiar with Florida’s drug laws. Call 877-663-5110.
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