Palm Beach County Reduces Penalties for Minimal Marijuana Possession: What does this mean for you?
In the State of Florida possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of no more than $1,000. This penalty has led to a significant amount of first-time and non-violent offenders serving jail time.
In Palm Beach County, alone, over 7,571 cases initiated between 2010 and 2014. Ninety percent of these cases resulted in booking in jail.
According to Palm Beach County Commissioner Priscilla Taylor:
We cannot legislate and lock up everybody for everything they do,” she said.
“We are talking about a small amount of marijuana…Too often, low-level drug offenders, especially those of color, lose college scholarships, are fired from jobs and have their records ruined for life.
In an effort to prevent first time drug offenders from serving jail time, Palm Beach County has proposed an ordinance that would allow Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to issue citations or tickets for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. Similar ordinances are already in effect in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and West Palm Beach.
Under this new ordinance the following would occur:
• Officers may issue citations for persons in possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, which is less than ¾ of an ounce.
• The fine for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is $100. Failure to pay this fine will result in the fine increasing to $500.
• An individual may choose to complete 10 hours of community service in lieu of paying the fine.
• An individual may challenge the citation in court. If the judge finds the person committed the offense, the individual faces a $500 fine plus court costs.
• A citation can only be issued twice. Repeat offenders will be jailed.
What does this mean for you?
Where an individual is caught possessing marijuana is important. The aforementioned ordinance will only take effect in unincorporated Palm Beach County. This includes The Acreage, Boca West, Bryant, Dahlberg, Deem City, Jupiter Farms, Loxahatchee, Okeelanta, Palm Beach Farms, Pelican Lake, Runyon, and San Castle, Florida only.
Areas within incorporated Palm Beach County, like Delray Beach, Boca Raton, and Palm Beach, may choose to adopt the ordinance. However, such action has not been taken as of yet. So if an individual is caught possessing marijuana outside the areas where the ordinance is effective still face misdemeanor charges.
Jeff Morris and Drew McLaughlin of McLaughlin Morris, P.A. are criminal defense attorneys located in Miami and Delray Beach, Florida. They have extensive experience defending clients against an array of marijuana charges, including simple possession, felony possession, marijuana trafficking, and marijuana cultivation.
McLaughlin Morris, P.A. proudly represents clients throughout Florida, including Palm Beach County, West Palm Beach, Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and the surrounding areas. Contact the dedicated attorneys of McLaughlin Morris, P.A. at (888) 5050-LAW (505–0529) for a free, confidential review of your case.