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Though many people think that marijuana possession should be completely decriminalized, it is still a crime. A person apprehended with larger quantities can be charged with possession with intent to distribute.
Whatever the circumstances of your case, being convicted of marijuana possession has serious long-term consequences. You may go to jail. In addition, you will have a criminal record and you may be excluded from certain professions.
At the Law Offices of Norman Mattar, we aggressively defend people facing drug charges, including marijuana possession, marijuana cultivation and possession with intent to distribute. Attorney Norman Mattar has more than 25 years of experience as a Prosecutor and private defense advocate. When defending you, Mr. Mattar will work tenaciously to protect your rights and preserve your freedom.
A Bill to Decriminalize the Possession of Controlled Substances
Several other U.S. states have introduced bills to decriminalize possession of drugs, including New York. In 2021, Sen. Gustavo River introduced Senate Bill S1284 to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for possession of controlled substances and establish a drug decriminalization task force to develop recommendations for reforming state laws, regulations, and practices.
“The purpose of this legislation is to save lives and to help transform New York’s approach to drug use from one based on criminalization and stigma to one based on science and compassion by eliminating criminal and civil penalties for the personal possession of controlled substances,” the bill says.
Additionally, S1284 would allow for the expungement of certain past drug arrests and convictions.
The bill has been assigned to the Senate Codes Committee. To learn more and stay up to date with S1284, visit the New York State Senate website.
Misdemeanor or Felony Drug Possession Charges
New York law drug possession refers to the possession of any of number of drugs that are labeled as controlled substances. This may include cocaine, heroin, oxycontin, and even marijuana. There are six possession of controlled substances offenses. However, the only one that is a misdemeanor is the criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree. This is a Class A misdemeanor.
The following are felony drug possession charges:
You will face this charge if you possess a controlled substance intending to sell it; possess at least 1/2 ounce of a narcotic preparation; possess at least 50 milligrams of PCP; possess at least 1/4 ounce of a concentrated preparation of cannabis; and more. It is a Class D felony.
You will face this charge if you possess at least 1/8 ounce of narcotic drug preparations; at least 1/2 ounce of methamphetamine preparations; at least 2 ounces of narcotic preparations; at least 1 gram of a stimulant; and more. It is a Class C felony.
You will face this charge if you possess a narcotic drug; or possess a stimulant, hallucinogen, hallucinogenic substance, or lysergic acid diethylamide drug with the intent to sell it and you have already been convicted of a controlled substance offense; and more. It is a Class B felony.
You will face this charge if you possess a minimum of 4 ounces of narcotic drug preparations; 2 ounces of methamphetamine preparations; 10 grams of a stimulant; 25 milligrams of a lysergic acid diethylamide; 625 milligrams of a hallucinogen; 25 grams of a hallucinogenic substance; or 2,880 milligrams of methadone. It is a Class A-II felony.
This is the most serious drug possession crime. You will face this charge if you possess a minimum of 8 ounces of narcotic drug preparations or at least 5,760 milligrams of methadone. It is a Class A-I felony.
Defenses to drug possession charges can include:
- Lack of knowledge
- Temporary and lawful possession
- Prescription medicine
- Insufficient quantity
- Infancy for persons under 16 years of age
Possession of Cannabis Charges
Marijuana is considered less serious than possession of a controlled substance. As a result, there are an additional four possession of marijuana offenses.
The following are cannabis possession charges:
You will be charged with this if you knowingly and unlawfully possess marijuana. It is a violation punishable by a fine of no more than $125.
You will be charged with this if you knowingly and unlawfully possess at least one preparation containing marijuana with an aggregate weight of at least 16 ounces. It is a class A misdemeanor.
You will be charged with this if you knowingly and unlawfully possess at least one preparation containing marijuana with an aggregate weight of more than 5 pounds. It is a Class E felony.
You will be charged with this if you knowingly and unlawfully possess at least one preparation containing marijuana with an aggregate weight of at least 10 pounds. It is a Class D felony.
Search and Seizure Defense Strategies
When marijuana is found in a vehicle or house, the police will often arrest everyone in the vehicle or house even though their connection to the drug is tenuous at best. This is called “Constructive Possession.” Norman Mattar understands the possible defenses to Constructive Possession, as well as other defenses based on illegal “Search and Seizure” actions of the police. If the evidence so obtained can be suppressed, it could result in the dismissal of the charge against you. Mr. Mattar will aggressively defend you at all stages of the legal process, seeking the best possible outcome for you.
Alternatives to a Criminal Conviction and Jail
Certain people charged with Marijuana Possession in New York may be able to avoid conviction and jail through an outcome known as Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. If you are granted such an outcome, the charge will be ultimately dismissed if you comply with the terms of the program. Norman Mattar has helped many people obtain such outcomes, and if you are eligible, he will seek to obtain that for you.
If you’ve been charged with a drug offense, call now to set up a consultation.
Call 716-633-4300 to discuss your case with an experienced and committed defense advocate.