After receiving much criticism, the criminal marijuana citation (which was unique to Orlando, Florida) has been eliminated, effective May 1, 2016.
As described in a prior blog, the criminal marijuana citation allowed individuals to go directly to the Clerk of the Court, pay a fine, and end their criminal case.
Sounds like a traffic ticket, right? Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. Most people who chose this quick fix didn’t know they would end up with a criminal record for possession of cannabis. Some still don’t know. In fact, most clients I speak with tell me that they only found out about having a marijuana charge on their record until years later, after they were denied employment or housing.
Maybe in an effort to make things more fair, the City Beautiful has now passed another ordinance allowing law enforcement the discretion to write a civil citation for possession of marijuana less than 20 grams.
This new civil ticket option really does leave you with no criminal record – but’s it’s only for first-time offenders. You’re out of luck if you’re a repeat offender.
And the “discretionary” part means that it’s up to the individual police officer whether to let you go with a civil ticket, or charge you with criminal possession.
There’s a world of difference between the two. Being very polite and cooperative with law enforcement would likely help, and could mean the difference between having a criminal record or a clean record.