New Marijuana Laws as of January 1, 2011
Senate Bill 1449 is the new marijuana law that went into effect on January 1, 2011 which is to reduce marijuana misdemeanor charges to that of an infraction. However, if you have an already existing offense from 2010, it is unclear as to how Courts and Judges apply the new legislation.
Even with the recent changes in the marijuana laws making possession of less than an ounce of marijuana only an infraction, all other drug charges are being prosecuted vigorously.
Simple Possession Charges
Simple possession charges involve possessing any list a controlled substance (anything from marijuana to methamphetamine to heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and everything in between) for personal use. In order for them to prove this, they must prove that you knowingly possessed a usable quantity of controlled substance. Obviously, this means that they have to prove that you possessed it. Drugs found in your pocket is a clear example of possession, but often times the prosecution will file charges against several occupants of a car, even when drugs are found in a common area and not directly on any one person. Next, they have to prove that the substance is a controlled substance. Sometimes, they can do a field test to determine if the substance is suspected to be a controlled substance, but they need to seek final analysis from the crime lab. Next, they have to prove that it is a “usable quantity” of drugs. How they define that depends on the officer and how they testify. Some will say that any amount that you can touch, feel, move or manipulate counts. Others will say that any amount that can be ingested in order produce an effect. Residue alone in a baggie shouldn’t be sufficient.
Good News for First Time “Simple Possession” Drug Offenders
For first-time simple possession offenders, often a diversion type program is available. If you are eligible for that, you may be able to attend classes, drug testing, and stay out of trouble for a period of time and end up with all charges dismissed at the end of the case. What type of program is available to you depends on the exact charges, whether they file any additional non-drug charges, and your record (if any).
Possession For Sale
If you are arrested for charge with possession for sales. The controlled substance, that’s much more serious. Depending on the substance, the amount, and the facts of the case, you could be facing years in state prison. There are still defenses and other legal options you have, though. First, can they prove that you possessed with intent to sell? They have to prove that drugs were possessed with the intent to sell or distribute them. Often, they try to do that by showing just the amount indicates sales, but that may not be enough. They try to make pieces of paper into records of transactions, argue that how it was possessed or packaged must only indicate that it was for sales and things like that. Especially in drug cases, the legality of the search can be an issue. Search warrants have their own rules, especially when it comes to informants.
Every drug case involves a search of some sort. To discuss the particulars of your case, give me a call.