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Tampa Criminal Attorney > Blog > Criminal Defense > POM Cases in Florida From Start to Finish

POM Cases in Florida From Start to Finish


Possession of marijuana cases are much different now than they were ten years ago. For one thing, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp. This substance has the exact same look, feel, smell, and other qualities as marijuana. Many prosecutors are now hard-pressed to distinguish illegal marijuana from legal hemp.

Second, most jurors have a much different attitude about marijuana, which is legal to use in many states and some Florida municipalities. So, the criminal consequences of POM are a function of where the defendant lives, not what the defendant did.

The changed environment gives a Tampa criminal defense lawyer an excellent chance to successfully resolve POM charges. Successful resolution is a process, not a result. As outlined below, this process begins before the case goes to court.

Jail Release

Without prompt jail release, the other points in this blog don’t matter. When a defendant remains behind bars, a Tampa criminal defense attorney cannot thoroughly investigate the case or successfully resolve the matter. Instead, the defendant usually accepts the state’s first plea bargain offer, to “get it over with” as soon as possible.

Since POM is a nonviolent crime, OR (own recognizance) pretrial release is usually available. If the defendant pays a small fee and promises to abide by pretrial release conditions, the sheriff releases the defendant. These conditions usually include:

  • Remaining in the county,
  • Checking in with a supervision officer,
  • Keeping current contact information on file,
  • Appearing at all required court dates, and
  • Avoiding further police run-ins.

If the defendant has a recent criminal record, especially if that record includes a violent misdemeanor or felony, OR release is usually unavailable. Other options remain on the table.

Putting up cash bond is like putting up a security deposit. If the defendant pays the entire bond amount, s/he gets most of that money back at the end of the case. Buying a bail bond is like buying an insurance policy. Most companies charge about a 10 percent premium.

Fact Issues

As mentioned, legal hemp looks, feels, and smells like illegal marijuana. Prosecutors must order an expensive THC content test to distinguish between the two.

Many dealers sell hemp and trick people into thinking it’s marijuana. Furthermore, the state must prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the possessed substance was illegal.

On a related note, for many years, to justify stops, police officers have claimed that they smelled marijuana. Given the hemp/marijuana difference and the unsettled legal nature of marijuana, that excuse might no longer hold up in court.

Legal Issues

Criminal possession has three components: proximity, knowledge, and control. Once again prosecutors must establish all three beyond any reasonable doubt.

The first element is often straightforward. The second two are problematic, to say the least. In fact, a defendant could literally be sitting on a marijuana stash and not legally possess it.


So far, the hemp/marijuana difference has loomed large in a POM case. When it comes to the resolution, the aforementioned juror attitude takes center stage. Many jurors believe that drug possession in general, and marijuana possession in particular, is a health and safety issue. So, they’re less likely to impose criminal penalties on these individuals.

Favorable resolutions in POM cases include pretrial diversion and deferred disposition. Both these programs purge the judicial record from the defendant’s criminal history, greatly minimizing the effects of such cases.

 Reach Out to a Hard-Hitting Hillsborough County Attorney

A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. We routinely handle matters throughout the Sunshine State.



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