If you’re caught with up to twenty-give grams of marijuana, it’s a civil infraction ticket. You only risk jail time if you have more than twenty-five grams. From there, New York divides marijuana possession charges by degrees. The most serious charge is possession of marijuana in the first degree.
Penalties for possession of marijuana in the first degree
Criminal possession of marijuana in the first degree is a class C felony under N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.30. You can be charged with the offense if you’re found with more than ten pounds of marijuana. For a class C felony, you can spend up to 15 years in prison if you’re convicted. You also face a fine of up to $15,000.
Examples and other common charges
If you’re facing charges of possession of marijuana in the first degree, the police might also try to charge you with the sale of marijuana. If they believe that you have enough marijuana that you intend to sell it or even share it with someone else, you might find yourself charged with sale of marijuana in addition to possession.
If you’re charged with possession of marijuana in the first degree, it’s important to speak with a NYC criminal attorney about your available defenses. There might be ways for you to defend yourself that you hadn’t considered. These options can result in dismissal of your charges or reduced penalties.
When your attorney evaluates your case, they’re going to evaluate how the police found the marijuana. If they pulled you over while you were driving, your attorney is going to pour over the traffic stop to determine if it was legal. The police have to have a legal reason to stop your vehicle. If they don’t, your attorney can ask the court to dismiss the charges.
The same is true if the police searched your home. You must either give them permission to search your home or they need a search warrant. If they broke the law to find your marijuana, the court might dismiss the entire case.
Another common defense is that you weren’t actually in possession of the marijuana. The marijuana might have belonged to someone else. It might not have been in your control. It’s up to law enforcement to prove all of the elements of the offense against you in court. If they don’t, you could win your trial.
Drug treatment courts
If you’re charged with first degree possession of marijuana, you might be eligible to participate in a drug treatment court in exchange for a reduced sentence or dismissal of your charges. To get this kind of disposition, you can ask the court to evaluate if you have a substance abuse problem that contributed to your criminal charges.
If the court finds that you have a substance abuse problem, the court might offer that you can participate in a drug treatment program. The program includes a probationary term that involves substance abuse monitoring and treatment programs. If you successfully complete the program, you can receive a reduced sentence or dismissal the charges against you.
Possession of marijuana in the first degree is a serious offense in New York. If you’re facing this type of charge, we invite you to contact our offices. Your future is too important to risk.