Under Florida law, possession of marijuana or cannabis with intent to sell is an
enhanced marijuana charge with serious felony penalties. If you have been accused
of possession of marijuana, cannabis, or pot with intent to sell in Jacksonville,
FL, contact an experienced Jacksonville Criminal Attorney to discuss possible defenses.
Our attorneys understand the stakes involved with such a charge and fight vigorously
to protect the rights and interests of our clients in Duval County, Clay County,
and Nassau County Florida.
Definition of Possession With Intent to Sell
Possession of cannabis with the intent to sell is a third degree felony, punishable
by up to five years imprisonment and a $5,000.00 fine. The offense is simply possession
with the additional element of an intent to sell. Thus, to prove the crime of possession
of marijuana or cannabis with intent to sell, the prosecution must establish the
following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
The defendant possessed a certain substance with the intent to sell the substance;
The substance was cannabis / marijuana as defined in Section 893.03, Florida Statutes
(a schedule 1 substance); and
The defendant had knowledge of the substance.
To “possess” cannabis means that the accused had personal charge of, or exercised
the right of ownership, management, or control over the items possessed. Contrary
to popular belief, a substance does not have to be on a person or in their immediate
vicinity to constitute possession. This is because Florida law recognizes the concept
of “constructive” possession, which expands the scope of the areas where a defendant
is deemed to exercise “control” or “dominion.” For a more detailed discussion of
actual and constructive possession, see our Jacksonville Drug Possession Attorney
In cannabis or marijuana cases in Jacksonville and Duval County, the “intent to sell”
simply means means that the accused meant to transfer or deliver the cannabis in
his or her possession to another person in exchange for (1) money or something of
value, or (2) a promise of money or something of value.
How Does the Prosecution Prove Possession with Intent to Sell Marijuana?
Generally speaking, the prosecution will attempt to prove a charge of Possession
with Intent to Sell through circumstantial evidence suggestive of the defendant’s
intentions, and/or through the accused’s own admissions. Examples of circumstantial
evidence can include large amounts of cash found at or near the location where the
cannabis was possessed, the presence of drug paraphernalia (if indicative of something
other than personal use), the presence of weapons, the type of packaging used, and
the amount of cannabis found on the premises.
Although a wide array of circumstantial evidence may be used to prove a charge of
Possession with Intent to Sell, the prosecution must present sufficient evidence
from which the jury can exclude every reasonable hypothesis except that of guilt.
If the State fails to meet this burden, the court must grant a judgment of acquittal
in favor of the accused.
Florida Case Law on Possession of Cannabis with Intent to Sell
The use of circumstantial evidence in Jacksonville, Duval County, Clay County, and
Nassau County to prove a charge of Possession of Cannabis with Intent to Sell is
best illustrated through the governing case law. Shown below is the case of Alleyne
v. State, a recent decision from the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
In Alleyne, a defendant was found in possession of 18 individually packaged baggies
containing a total of less than 20 grams of marijuana, and small amount of cash.
In the course of the trial, the State relied on circumstantial evidence, which included
the testimony of several law enforcement officers that they did not believe the marijuana
was for personal use. On these facts, the Court held that the circumstantial evidence
was insufficient as a matter of law to sustain a conviction for Possession of Marijuana
with Intent to Sell.
If you have been accused in Jacksonville, Duval County, Nassau County, or Clay County
with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to sell, you may have legal or factual defenses
available to contest the charge, to have the charge amended to a lesser offense,
or to mitigate potential penalties. Contact our Jacksonville Drug Possession Attorney
today for a free consultation.
THOMAS ALLEYNE, Appellant,
STATE OF FLORIDA, Appellee.
District Court Of Appeal Of The State Of Florida
July Term 2010
September 1, 2010
Carey Haughwout, Public Defender, and Peggy Natale, Assistant Public Defender, West
Palm Beach, for appellant.
Bill McCollum, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Helene C. Hvizd, Assistant Attorney
General, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
Thomas Alleyne was convicted of possession of marijuana with intent to sell within
1, 000 feet of a school.1 Because there was insufficient circumstantial evidence
of his intent to sell, we reverse the conviction and remand for entry of a judgment
of conviction for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.
At 9:15 a.m., a number of police cars pulled up to a convenience store.2 Alleyne
started to run away. A police car pulled in front of Alleyne and an officer tasered
him. As he stopped, a brown bag flew out of his hand and landed on the police car.
Inside the bag were 18 individual plastic Ziploc bags containing marijuana and a
rolled up $20 bill. The total weight of all the marijuana was less than 20 grams.
The officer found $36 in Alleyne's pocket. The state offered no testimony as to Alleyne's
conduct outside of the store before the police arrived.
Much of the state's case focused on the arresting officers' opinions. One officer
testified that the Ziploc bags were "dime" bags of marijuana that sold for $10 each
and that the amount was "not a personal use amount." When questioned, the officer
agreed that it could take two baggies to roll one "joint" and that for a person to
smoke four joints a day was "[c]ertainly not" impossible.
A second officer emphatically stated, "The amount that Mr. Alleyne had on his person
was not for personal use, it was for drug dealing." This officer opined that the
marijuana could not possibly have been for personal use, "Not the way it was packaged,
not the way he was standing, and not the way the incident took place." The officer
rendered this opinion even though he never saw Alleyne engaged in selling marijuana
and had no personal knowledge that he had ever done so. He had "no idea" if Alleyne
could have purchased the drug packaged the way it was found in the bag.
Alleyne testified that he had gone into the store and scratched off a lottery ticket.
When he came out, he saw police coming toward him and moved away. He said he was
carrying marijuana he had purchased in little bags for his personal use. He had not
purchased a larger amount and put it in the bags. He smoked marijuana a lot, and
the 18 bags would last him about a day and a half. The money in the bag with the
marijuana, about $20, was the change from purchasing his scratch off ticket. He had
money because he was working.
On cross examination, Alleyne said he had a little money in his pockets. He bought
the marijuana about half an hour earlier that morning. He paid $90, even though he
made less than $50 a day working.
The trial court erred when it denied Alleyne's motion for judgment of acquittal at
the end of the state's case, because the evidence of his intent to sell was circumstantial
and the evidence did not exclude his reasonable hypothesis of innocence—that he possessed
the marijuana only for personal use.
Where proof of an element of a crime is based wholly on circumstantial evidence,
a special standard of review applies. See State v. Law, 559 So. 2d 187, 188 (Fla.
1989). "A motion for judgment of acquittal should be granted in a circumstantial
evidence case if the state fails to present evidence from which the jury can exclude
every reasonable hypothesis except that of guilt." Id. As the supreme court has written,
[i]t is the trial judge's proper task to review the evidence to determine the presence
or absence of competent evidence from which the jury could infer guilt to the exclusion
of all other inferences. That view of the evidence must be taken in the light most
favorable to the state. The state is not required to "rebut conclusively every possible
variation" of events which could be inferred from the evidence, but only to introduce
competent evidence which is inconsistent with the defendant's theory of events. Once
that threshold burden is met, it becomes the jury's duty to determine whether the
evidence is sufficient to exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence beyond
a reasonable doubt.
Id. at 189 (emphasis removed) (footnote omitted) (citations omitted); see also White
v. State, 973 So. 2d 638, 642 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) (quoting Sanders v. State, 344
So. 2d 876, 876-77 (Fla. 4th DCA 1977) ("circumstantial evidence must be so strong
and convincing as to exclude every reasonable hypothesis except the defendants' guilt
and must exclude any reasonable hypothesis of the defendants' innocence")). Evidence
which furnishes nothing more than a suspicion that the defendant committed the crime
is not sufficient to uphold a conviction. See Davis v. State, 436 So. 2d 196, 198
(Fla. 4th DCA 1983).
This case is controlled by Valentin v. State, 974 So. 2d 629 (Fla. 4th DCA 2008),
a case where the defendant was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to
sell within 1, 000 feet of a publicly owned park. The sole evidence against the defendant
was an officer's testimony that he saw Valentin drop the baggie, containing seventeen
smaller baggies of cocaine, in a bush. He did not see Valentin talk to anyone or
do anything to suggest an intent to sell in the park.
Id. at 630. We observed that this evidence was "insufficient to show an intent to
sell generally." Id. We reversed with direction to enter judgment of conviction for
simple possession of cocaine. We reasoned that the defendant's possession of 17 individual
baggies with a total of 8.3 grams of cocaine in them was consistent with both an
intent to sell and with personal use. Id. at 631. We noted that the police did not
find any money or drug paraphernalia on the defendant and there were "no other facts
which would suggest an intent to sell." Id. The packaging and weight of the drugs
in this case is similar to that in Valentin, giving rise to similar conclusions about
The state attempts to distinguish Valentin in two ways. First, there was no money
found on Valentin, while Alleyne had $36 in his pocket and another $20 found in the
paper bag with the marijuana. However, neither the amount of money found, nor the
denominations of it were inconsistent with personal use. See Williams v. State, 569
So. 2d 1376, 1377 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990) (holding that evidence consisting of 10 pieces
of cocaine, marijuana rolling paper, $72, and a weapon was not sufficient to prove
intent to sell). Second, while the arresting officer in Valentin admitted the possibility
that the recovered drugs could have been for personal use, one officer in this case
was adamant in his opinion that Alleyne's intent was to sell the drugs he possessed.
Other than the manner in which the drugs were packaged, no other fact supported this
conclusion. The officer's opinion was unsupported by facts that would give it credence;
Alleyne did nothing outside the convenience store before the police pulled up which
indicated he was selling drugs. Neither the total amount of marijuana nor the amount
of cash recovered was inconsistent with personal use. His flight from the police
was as consistent with possession of illegal drugs as it was with the intent to sell
For these reasons, we reverse Alleyne's conviction for possession of marijuana with
intent to sell and remand for entry of a judgment of conviction of possession of
marijuana under 20 grams.