Marijuana has been legalized for medical use in Pennsylvania, but it is still illegal to grow or possess it if you do not have a medical marijuana card issued by the Commonwealth. Although many jurisdictions in Pennsylvania have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, it is still classified as an illegal Schedule I drug by the federal government. If you’ve been arrested for possession of marijuana, you can still face prison time, hefty fines, and a permanent mark on your record. Seeking the counsel of a local criminal defense lawyer who understands the complexities of federal, state and local law can ensure that your rights are protected and lead to a more positive outcome for your case.
Types of Marijuana-Related Offenses in Pennsylvania
The penalties for marijuana possession vary, depending on the amount you are found to have. If you have an amount less than 30 grams, you could face misdemeanor charges, 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Possessing more than 30 grams of marijuana is a felony that carries up to five years in jail and a $15,000 fine. Multiple convictions may result in doubled penalties. Even if you think being charged with possession is not a big deal, having a Chester County felony lawyer by your side is critical to help you understand your rights and mount a proper defense.
Possession with Intent to Distribute
This offense includes the cultivation, transportation, and selling of marijuana. If you are caught selling, delivering or distributing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school or within 250 feet of a playground, you could face two to four years in prison. Giving or selling marijuana to a minor is a felony and may result in double penalties. It’s also important to keep in mind that growing marijuana is a felony, even if it is just for personal use.
Possession of Paraphernalia
You can even be charged with a crime if you are in possession of paraphernalia like a pipe or bong. Generally, it is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 6-12 months of incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500. Delivering paraphernalia to a minor is a second-degree misdemeanor, and can come with penalties of up to two years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana can be severe. Marijuana DUI cases can be tricky, as cannabis metabolites can be found in the system weeks after use.
Why You Need an Attorney
If you have been charged with a marijuana offense, it is important to seek legal representation immediately. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help you avoid time behind bars by negotiating a conditional release, which lets you opt for probation rather than trial. If you do go to trial, the prosecution is required to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is a lack of sufficient evidence, the improper procedure was followed by an arresting officer, or there is no proof that you were in possession of marijuana, your attorney will use these facts to your advantage to achieve a not guilty verdict or to have charges dismissed.
If you are a first time offender, your defense attorney may negotiate with prosecutors to have you enter a drug diversion program. Upon successful completion, charges will be dismissed and will avoid having a conviction on your criminal record.
Do you need help fighting marijuana charges? Our experienced team of criminal defense attorneys can help.