Drug Possession – Marijuana
Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most widely used illegal drug or controlled substance in the United States. At any given time, people are rallying for the complete legalization, decriminalization, or at the very least, medical marijuana laws. Despite this, it remains a very common criminal charge.
Because these laws can vary so widely by state and region, it is very difficult to summarize marijuana laws and penalties.
While marijuana use is acceptable in some social circles and is used legally for medical purposes in 18 states with a prescription from a doctor, recreational use and sale of marijuana remains illegal in 2017 in most states.
The States where marijuana possession has been legalized now includes Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia. But even in those places, you can still face arrest for illegally selling marijuana, growing marijuana in quantities above the legal amount allowed (no growing in allowed in Washington state), or possession of an amount greater than is allowed under those state’s legalization initiatives (generally up to an ounce).
If you are facing criminal charges of possession of marijuana or possession with intent, you cannot take the charges lightly no matter what society thinks about the drug; you must focus on what the law says about it in your state.
A local, experienced criminal defense attorney who has defended marijuana possession charges can tell you exactly what to expect when facing this type of offense in your local court.
Criminal Marijuana Possession Charges
Typically when someone is caught with marijuana, it is a small amount, often referred to as enough for “personal use”. In some states, if you are caught with a very small amount, you will only be ticketed. In those states, possession of marijuana is said to have been “decriminalized” and is now seen as an infraction or fineable offense.
In California and Massachusetts, for example, possession of marijuana, less than one ounce is punishable by a fine of $100 on a first offense.
Despite possession being decriminalized in some states, it is still considered a misdemeanor in others. This means that you could face a permanent criminal record for being caught with a small bag of pot. In most states, a first-time possession charge is a misdemeanor.
As the amount, you are caught with and your prior criminal history increases so does the seriousness of the charges against you. Two ounces of marijuana could get you a felony charge in some states and a misdemeanor in others.
In Arizona, if you are caught with any amount less than 2 pounds and it is determined you were not trying to sell it, you still face Class 6 felony charges.
When facing charges of possession of marijuana it is crucial that you have an attorney in your state that understands the legal complexities of the charge and potential penalties. While a possession charge is considered fairly minor in the scheme of things, we understand it is far from a minor situation when your freedom and good name are on the line.
Possession with Intent or Distributing Marijuana Charges
More serious that a simple possession charge, charges of possession with intent to distribute, or distribution of marijuana can land you a lengthy prison sentence if the prosecution is successful in getting a conviction.
The prosecution can use several factors in proving to the court that you intended to sell the marijuana you were found with. The amount you had, the presence of baggies or scales, and even large amounts of cash can all be used as evidence when trying to have you convicted on this serious drug charge.
Serious marijuana charges like these are most often felony charges.
Beating a Marijuana Charge in Court
Is it possible to beat a charge like these? Of course. The system is designed to protect the innocent. If you are not guilty of the charges against you, an experienced criminal lawyer will do everything possible to fight for positive results on your day in court.
Even if you admit making a mistake, circumstances can arise that result in the charges being dropped.
It the job of your defense lawyer to ensure all of the evidence in your marijuana case was obtained legally and without violating your rights. From the investigation to the arrest, you deserve to be treated fairly by the court system.
Most attorneys and defendant’s alike consider it a win, and the charge beaten if the offense will not appear as a permanent conviction on your record. Having a “drug conviction”, even marijuana, show up on a background check could potentially sink a job opportunity, an apartment rental, or even cause you problems volunteering to be a little league coach or a volunteer at a school.
So most of the time, you are looking for any deal that avoids that outcome, whether it be a straight dismissal, a dismissal after a period or other deferred prosecution (see below).
Deferred Prosecution/ Diversion
Depending on the specific laws of your state, you may qualify for one of many types of diversion. Often known as deferred prosecution or delayed judgment, these programs are specifically designed for first-time marijuana offenders.
They most often involve a period of probation that when successfully complete results in the charges against you being dropped.
Deferred prosecution programs allow for a second chance, giving you an opportunity to avoid a permanent criminal record. A quick legal consultation will assist in determining if you might be eligible for your state’s version of diversion.
Get a Legal Defense Consultation on Marijuana Possession Criminal Charges
When you are facing marijuana charges like these, it is essential that you have a criminal defense attorney you can trust. We encourage you to shop around for the best person for the job but also caution you not to take too long, being represented when you go to court is crucial in getting a good outcome.
In your search for the right attorney, we can put you in touch with an attorney in your state that can handle your marijuana case. Contact us today for a free consultation.