In New York, possession of marijuana can be a very serious offense. At the highest level, possession of more than ten pounds of marijuana is punishable by up to fifteen years in prison. For small amounts, possession of marijuana is only punishable by paying a fine. The specific marijuana charge you face depends on the amount of marijuana that law enforcement finds. They determine the amount by weighing what they find.
Possession of marijuana in the fourth degree
Marijuana possession charges are divided into five degrees of criminal charges plus a non-criminal charge. First degree possession is for the largest amounts, and fifth degree possession is the lowest of the criminal marijuana charges. Possession of marijuana in the fourth degree occurs when you have more than two ounces of marijuana but less than eight ounces. Possession in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor under N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.15. A class A misdemeanor can carry up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
Spodek Law Group is a team of NYC criminal lawyers with extensive experience defending marijuana charges in New York. A marijuana charge in New York is serious. However, there are options available to you to defend your charges completely or reduce them to a less serious offense.
You might consider participating in one of New York’s drug treatment courts. The justice system created drug courts in order to treat the problem of drug use instead of simply punishing it. If you have a substance abuse problem that contributes to your criminal use of marijuana, you might be eligible for this option.
Your participation includes a term of probation during which you participate in intensive drug treatment and monitoring. The goal is that you are able to find the resources that you need in order to stop using marijuana. If you’re successful in the treatment program, you can have your charges reduced or even dismissed completely.
Possession and control
Law enforcement has to prove the charges against you to the satisfaction of a jury. To do this, they have to prove that you are the person that actually had possession of the marijuana. Saying that the marijuana is away from your immediate person in a closet in your room isn’t going to help, because the marijuana is still under your control. This might be a great defense in cases where the marijuana is under a seat in a car and law enforcement can’t prove who put it there or who in the vehicle can exercise control over it.
Search and seizure
Even if you have marijuana, law enforcement still has to find it in a legal way. If they want to search your home, they need to get a search warrant. If you didn’t invite law enforcement to look in your home, and they didn’t get a search warrant, you might be able to completely defend your case on constitutional grounds. There are a few nuances and exceptions in search and seizure laws, so it’s important to work with a skilled attorney to evaluate your defenses.
Compassionate Care Act
Marijuana use is actually legal in a few situations in New York. This is because of New York’s Compassionate Care Act. The goal of the law is to allow people to use marijuana in certain conditions because of medical problems. To use medical marijuana you need to have a qualifying condition, and you must apply to be an official patient.