According to Broward County, misdemeanor marijuana possession may soon become a civil violation instead of a criminal one. On June 19, Vice Mayor Marty Kiar proposed a new bill to decriminalize marijuana possession – but only if the person carries less than 20 grams.
On June 23, Broward County commissioners unanimously agreed to further explore the proposal. The county attorney is now drafting a new ordinance for further review. However, this ordinance will not legalize marijuana; rather, it will reduce the criminal charges to civil violations and carry a $100 fine. Also important, it will likely be an election of the officer involved; we fully expect all related proposed law in Miami-Dade (which already passed) and Palm Beach County will give discretion to the police officer you encounter. Therefore, we suspect many people will still be charged criminally and it will still be used as a pre-text for other searches or seizures that would otherwise be unlawful.
Although more states are decriminalizing marijuana possession, drug charges are still serious. A conviction can severely compromise your personal and financial opportunities.
If you face these charges, call a Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney from Leader & Leader, PA at 954-523-2020 for a free initial consultation, and read on to learn more about marijuana decriminalization in Broward County.
Lighter Penalties for Possessing Less Than 20 Grams of Marijuana
A conviction for criminal charges that involve drug possession can seriously compromise a person’s future. Additionally, a conviction will result in revocation of your driving privilege for potentially two (2) years. In addition to potential jail time and steep fines, offenders may not be able to pursue certain careers or obtain educational grants. Thanks to Vice Mayor Kiar’s proposal, though, possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana could be pursued as a civil infraction rather than a criminal offense.
In some cases, these people cannot find work due to their criminal record. The overall consequences of these charges are devastating for both individuals and families.
One goal of the new ordinance is to reduce overcrowding in jails. It also allows people to avoid the life-changing consequences of possessing a small amount of marijuana.
Broward County to Join Other Regions That Have Decriminalized Marijuana Possession
Currently, 14 states have passed bills to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Hallandale Beach, the city of Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County in the process of implementing similar laws.
Before the new ordinance becomes a law, county commissioners must discuss certain points. There are concerns about how much marijuana the proposal will forgive and how much to fine those caught with certain amounts. Additionally, the commissioners will have to decide if the proposal will be effective throughout Broward County or only in unincorporated regions.
The county commissioners’ June 23 meeting was the last scheduled until August. They are unlikely to make any major decisions any time soon – at least not before fall. Until then, if police catch you in possession of marijuana, criminal charges may still apply.
If you currently face drug possession charges, there may be several defenses that could work for your case. Examples include:
- The police had an invalid search warrant.
- The stop, detention or search was illegal.
- There is no evidence that the defendant actually possessed the controlled substance.
To start planning your defense, call Leader & Leader, PA, at 954-523-2020 to speak to a criminal lawyer.