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You may wonder if you can still be arrested for possession of marijuana, even if you have your Florida medical marijuana identification card. The answer is yes. The following article will discuss and interpret the medical marijuana laws in Florida to guide you so you are aware of the limitations.

In 2017, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 8A, otherwise known as the Medical Use of Marijuana Act. Under Senate Bill 8A, residents of Florida may qualify for the use of medical marijuana if they have been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, such as cancer, PTSD, Epilepsy, etc., by a certified physician.  Upon approval, the physician will send a recommendation to the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use for you to be granted approval to use medical marijuana for treatment. If approved, you will set up a Medical Marijuana Use account, pay a small fee, and you will be added to the Medical Marijuana Use registry and issued a license. Only state-licensed Medical Marijuana Centers, also called dispensaries, are legally allowed to distribute marijuana.

Here lies the misunderstanding where people think its smooth sailing from here. In Florida, you are allowed to use medical marijuana if you comply with the following regulations:

Have you ever heard a police officer or special agent in a tv show, such as NCIS, Law and Order, or CSI say the words, “You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you,” or a version of that? Those are called your Miranda Rights or your Miranda Warnings, derived from the 5th and 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Your 5th and 6th Amendment rights are very important to know if confronted by a legal situation. For example, the police show up to your door and ask you what you know about a possible crime in the area. Do you have to answer their questions?

The simple answer is no, you can inform the police you do not want to answer their questions. Put yourself in this situation. At this point, you do not know if the police consider you a suspect or if they are only searching for information about a possible crime. Voluntarily choosing to not speak with the police about a criminal matter is not a crime.

Someone who has been convicted of a sexually related crime will be required by the court to register as a sex offender or sexual predator. Those crimes can include: child pornography, sexual misconduct, lewd or lascivious offenses with a minor, etc. A sexual offender and sexual predator are two different terms, depending on the number of convictions on your record. A sexual predator is typically the more dangerous of the two, having committed and been convicted of at least two 2nd-degree sexual felonies or at least one 1st-degree sexual felony.

The sex offender registry is a public list that displays your name, picture, address, and the criminal offense. In some cases, the list will also provide date of birth, weight, and height, among other things. This information is made available to the public on a law enforcement-managed website. All of this information is provided to your local law enforcement when you register, and when required to register, your name remains on that list for life. If you fail to register or re-register when required, you can be charged with a 3rd-degree felony, punishable depending on the number of offenses. If your first offense, it is punishable with six months electronic monitoring by the police; a 2nd offense requires a one-year minimum of electronic monitoring; a 3rd offense requires a 2-year minimum of electronic monitoring.

Being charged and convicted with a sexually related criminal offense is not a situation you want to be in, but being placed on the registry after being released into the community will continue to have long-lasting, harmful effects. It may prove very difficult to find employment, you will have to follow state regulations on the distance you reside from schools and playgrounds, neighbors will be able to discover your crimes on the registry, and you can get in more legal trouble if you fail to update your registration yearly as required. In addition to being placed on the sex offender list, you will also be required to make the local police aware when in their county and to inform them with plans to travel to other Florida counties.

School shootings have been increasing in the last several years, which means greater safety measures and stricter guidelines have been put into play. Bringing a weapon to a school, whether it be an elementary school all the way to high school, is not just a cause for suspension or expulsion, but can incur criminal charges as well. The Florida School Board of Education defines a weapon possession as acquiring a firearm or object that has the capabilities to cause serious harm or put another person in reasonable fear of injury. Those objects may include swords, knives, pocketknives, guns, pepper spray, etc. Florida schools have a zero-tolerance policy; if a student brings any of those objects or a firearm to school grounds, school facilities off site, at a school bus stop, on a school bus, or within 1000 feet of the school, that student will be expelled for one (1) year and submitted for criminal charge.

If the incident involves a firearm, the charge will be, under Florida Statute 790.115 (4): “any minor under 18 years of age who is charged under this section with possessing or discharging a firearm on school property shall be detained in secure detention, unless the state attorney authorizes the release of the minor and shall be given a probable cause hearing within 24 hours after being taken into custody. At the hearing, the court may order that the minor continue to be held in secure detention for a period of 21 days, during which time the minor shall receive medical, psychiatric, psychological, or substance abuse examinations pursuant to s. 985.18, and a written report shall be completed.” As you can see, these penalties are invoked quickly following the arrest. It is possible to limit these penalties at the initial hearing before the Judge.

Florida law states that minors under the age of 18 are not allowed to possess a firearm, unless they meet the few exceptions of transporting the firearm to a lawful competition or hunting activities. If a minor is found to have a firearm and not within the certain exceptions, the minor can be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor. A conviction can range from a three-day detention sentence and 100 hours of community service for a first offense, to a maximum one year in jail and $1,000.00 fine. Those charges have harsher criminal convictions if that possession is on school grounds.

Unfortunately, that answer is yes. The legal system does not follow the same rules as buying alcohol or cigarettes; you do not have to be 21 or 18 years old before certain regulations take effect. There aren’t set age laws where a person must be 18 years old to be placed in the adult criminal system. Depending on many factors, including the nature of the felony and criminal history, your child can be tried as an adult in the state of Florida. A juvenile is considered to be 17 years of age or younger, but those felonies can be serious enough to be handled by a criminal court instead of the juvenile system. If the crime was sexually motivated or a serious, violent crime, the child has a long criminal history and the juvenile system is no longer working, or if the child has already been tried as an adult, the chances are high the case will be transferred to an adult criminal court. Unless the crime is a capital offense, the youngest age a juvenile can be tried as an adult in the state of Florida is 14 years old.

There are three (3) different categories in which a juvenile can be transferred to the adult criminal system.

  1. Florida is one of the few states that offer direct filing. Prosecutors have the discretion to file a juvenile’s case in adult criminal court without needing to have approval by a judge or jury. The 2 types of direct filings are Mandatory filing, which applies to 16 or 17-year old juveniles who have committed any type of felony offense; and Discretionary filing, which applies when the juvenile is 14 years or older. Discretionary direct filing occurs on only a variety of crimes, approximately 21 different felonies, all of which can be found under Florida statute 985.557. Examples of those felonies include: aggravated assault and battery, homicide, grand theft auto, armed robbery, etc.
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I would like thank my attorney Thomas Luka. I knew from the beginning I had the right guy in my corner. While celebrating with family and friends at a Public Park in Seminole County, a fight broke out among various people. Myself, and a good friend, broke up the fight and the instigators left. Six months later, I was wrongly accused as the person who started the fight. The first attorney I hired could not even get a response from the State Attorney handling the case. Someone referred me to Tom and I felt comfortable at his demeanor and reactions.

After conversations with Tom, who knew I would settle for nothing less than a FULL DISMISSAL due to my innocence, I hired him. His firm of Adams and Luka did the due diligence by interviewing witnesses and the police who were on the scene, as well as starting a dialogue with the State Attorney. After gathering statements from witnesses, Tom was able to present a strong argument on my behalf to the State Attorney on why the case should be dismissed. If the State Attorney was not willing to dismiss the case, Tom was ready to take the case to trial.

The result by Thomas Luka: Case Dismissed.

I am 53 years old with a spotless record and glad to keep it that way thanks to the time, effort, hard work, and professionalism of the Adams and Luka and Tom Luka.

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Thomas Luka left a life-long great impression of lawyers. He was always professional, on time, and answered things honestly. From the start and during the 14 months it went on - Tom was very upfront and honest with me about the possible outcomes. The result was better than I had hoped for. Tom really over-delivered. HIGHLY RECCOMEND. Marcela Giorgi
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Adams and Luka were very professional and savvy in the courtroom. When you're in court with Mr. Luka you will think you have the best attorney there. I recommend this law firm. Pioneer Tech
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Rich Adams is an outstanding criminal attorney. I have had the opportunity to refer several friends and clients to his practice for handling of criminal matters, and on every occasion he has produced an excellent result. Rich practices with attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law, and a passion to defend his clients. I will continue to refer clients to Rich Adams, and would strongly recommend him for your legal needs. Brian Pink
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