While attitudes may be changing as it relates to using marijuana, it is still a federal crime to possess it. It is also a crime in many states to possess it whether it is being used for medical or recreational purposes. Therefore, it is important that you understand the potential penalties of marijuana possession as well as what an attorney can do to help obtain a favorable outcome in your case.
Federal Law Supersedes State Law
It is critical to understand that federal law is always given top priority over state law. Therefore, just because certain states like Colorado and Massachusetts have legalized recreational marijuana doesn’t mean that you can’t be charged with a crime. Furthermore, in states like New York where possession of marijuana could be an infraction, you still can’t be seen with it outside of your home.
What Are the Possible Penalties for a Marijuana Possession Conviction?
Marijuana possession penalties can range from an infraction for having less than 25 grams in New York state to spending up to two years in jail for having less than a pound in Texas. If you are caught in possession of a pound or more of marijuana in Texas, you could face at least six months in jail.
Many states also impose fines of up to $10,000 or more for those who are caught with large amounts of marijuana. You could also be charged with intent to sell or distribute this substance if you are found with a large enough quantity. Generally, you must have at least a pound or more to face this enhanced charge.
Your Background Could Play a Role in Deciding Your Punishment
If you have never been convicted of a felony in the state of Texas, you will likely be sentenced to drug rehab for a first marijuana possession offense. The same is true in most other states as governments have decided to treat drug use as a medical condition as opposed to a crime. Large cities may have their own rules as it relates to how a drug offender should be sentenced.
A Conviction Could Have Long-Term Impact
Having a criminal conviction on your record could have a long-term impact on your ability to find a job or get into school. This is true even if most people consider marijuana use to be relatively harmless. It can also be true even if you were only found to be in possession of a relatively small amount of the substance. However, your attorney will work to help you obtain a plea bargain or have the case thrown out entirely.
How Will an Attorney Help Me?
An attorney will represent your interests from the time that you are taken into custody until the time that your case is resolved. He or she may be able to obtain a lower bail amount or convince a judge that you should be entitled to bail. It may also be possible for an attorney to dispute evidence collected in your case and possibly get it suppressed or otherwise dismissed. That may be enough to obtain a plea bargain or have the matter dismissed entirely.
If you are charged with possession of marijuana, it is important that you know your rights. Among those rights is the ability to retain legal counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney, one can be given to you for free to ensure that you are treated fairly during the legal process.