In New York, there’s no distinction between having marijuana plants and having processed marijuana that’s ready to smoke. What charge you face depends on the weight of the marijuana. Marijuana charges are divided by degrees. The most serious charge is first degree, and the least serious charge is a civil infraction.
Possession of marijuana charges are determined by weight
If you have more than ten pounds of marijuana, that’s possession in the first degree. If you have sixteen or more ounces of marijuana, it’s possession in the second degree. There are third, fourth and fifth degree possession charges for amounts of less than sixteen ounces. Finally, there is a civil ticket for possession of less than twenty-five grams of marijuana.
Possession of marijuana in the second degree is a violation of N.Y. Pen. Law § 221.25. It’s a class D felony. You can spend up to seven years in prison and pay a fine of up to $5,000 if you’re convicted.
Possession of marijuana and the sale of marijuana are two distinct and separate crimes in New York. If you have enough marijuana that law enforcement thinks it’s not only for your personal use, they might charge you with the sale of marijuana. Even if you give marijuana away, it’s classified as a sale under New York law. Having selling accessories with your marijuana like scales or plastic bags can also lead to an additional charge of selling marijuana.
The Compassionate Care Act
Recent legislation makes it legal for individuals to own small amounts of marijuana for medical use only. A medical professional must recommend marijuana to their patient. You must have a medical registration card before you possess. Even a prescribing physician must complete state training in order to legally recommend marijuana to patients.
Other available defenses
If you find yourself facing a marijuana charge in New York, there are a variety of defenses that might be available to you. In addition to the Compassionate Care Act, you might be able to defend yourself on the grounds that the stop or the search warrant was illegal. The police can’t just stop your vehicle or search your home for marijuana.
Instead, they have to have legal grounds to search. In the case of your home, they have to have a search warrant. If the police didn’t search your property or home in a lawful way, the result can be a complete dismissal of the charges against you.
You might also be able to defend yourself against the charges on the grounds that you didn’t actually have possession of the marijuana. Perhaps someone else put the marijuana on your person in hopes of avoiding their own charges. If you can show that you didn’t have dominion or control over the marijuana, it might be a valid defense to the charges.
You might also qualify to participate in a drug court program. If you have a substance abuse problem, New York has drug courts available to help offenders overcome these issues. If you successfully complete the drug court program, you can get a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. Drug court programs usually involve substance abuse testing and treatment such as counseling.
Work with an experienced attorney
Marijuana laws continue to change in the State of New York. It’s important that you consult an NYC criminal lawyer if you’re facing marijuana charges. An attorney can help you navigate this complex area of law. They can help you prepare your best defense and achieve the best possible outcome in court.
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