Should I Fight Marijuana Possession Charges?
Although marijuana is legal in some states, in North Carolina, marijuana is still an illegal substance. If you are caught with marijuana, you could face charges. If guilty, you will have penalties that could impact your life. The penalties are based on how much marijuana you have in your possession. A simple marijuana possession charge may be a misdemeanor, but it can still cause you to have a criminal record if you are convicted. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will review the details of your case and help you decide how to proceed.
There are two pieces of legislation that are currently being reviewed in North Carolina. Senate Bill 765 would allow adults to possess up to two ounces of cannabis for recreational purposes. Senate Bill 711, also called the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act, would allow the legal use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Both of these bills are in varying stages of discussion and approval. If passed, these bills will greatly impact simple marijuana possession laws.
Simple Marijuana Possession
Simple marijuana possession means that you have been caught with a small amount of the substance. Generally, a small amount of marijuana, an ounce or less, is considered for personal use and is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Typically, if you have under one and a half ounces of cannabis and no other issues, you will be charged with simple possession. In most instances, you will receive a citation and will not be arrested. You must then decide how to handle the citation.
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If you have more than one and a half ounces of cannabis, you could be charged with trafficking, which is a felony. It is also important to note that in addition to possession charges, you could also face charges for paraphernalia if those are found. If you have an amount of marijuana greater than one and a half ounces, the charge is a felony, and the penalties increase substantially.
Resolving a Ticket for Marijuana Possession
A ticket, or citation, for marijuana possession is not the same as getting a traffic ticket. You do have some options when it comes to what to do about it. If this is your first offense, you may be able to seek a better outcome with a deferred dismissal, voluntary dismissal, or conditional discharge.
- Voluntary dismissal – This occurs when the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the charges, typically for a defendant with no criminal record. The defendant must agree to comply with the requirements that may include community service as well as taking a drug education course.
- Deferred dismissal – A deferred dismissal (DD) is an option in which the court will agree to drop the charges after the defendant complies with specific requirements. In this case, the court will dismiss the charges after a period of time (typically up to a year) in which the defendant does not get into further trouble. Also, the defendant may need to complete a drug education course and a number of hours of community service.
- Conditional Discharge – A conditional discharge is also known as a 90-96 discharge. Similar to a deferred dismissal, a conditional discharge is a more formal process. You must be eligible for this type of dismissal through the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations. If eligible, the court oversees the matter, and you must complete the requirements that typically include drug education, counseling, and community service.
In some cases, you may not be eligible for any type of dismissal or discharge. In that case, you may want to defend the case in court. In some instances, the evidence might have been obtained illegally and, therefore, might be excluded from the trial. There may be other potential defenses to the charges.
A drug conviction can leave you with problems that can last a long time due to your criminal record. If you have been charged with drug possession or other charges, you can seek justice through the courts. Please contact us today to get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.
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