To be charged with possession, the marijuana has to be on you or within your control. This means that you can be charged with possession even if the marijuana was not in your pocket or on your body. The charge you face depends on the amount of marijuana you were caught with.
Marijuana Quantity Charge Sentence
100 kilograms or more 1st degree controlled substance crime Up to 30 years and $1 million.
50 kilograms or more 2nd degree controlled substance crime Up to 25 years and $500,000.
10 kilograms or more 3rd degree controlled substance crime Up to 20 years and $250,000.
42.5 grams to 10 kilo. 5th degree controlled substance crime Up to 5 years and $10,000.
Less than 42.5 grams Petty misdemeanor, non criminal $200 fine and drug education.
What are the defenses?
Defenses to marijuana possession are broad and often depend on the particular facts of the case. Often, the probable cause for warrants can be challenged. If the discovery of contraband was the result of a stop on the street or in your vehicle, the reasonable suspicion for the stop and the probable cause for the search must be examined and challenged. If the search or the stop was invalid, the contraband and resulting evidence can be excluded at trial.
Avoiding a Conviction
A conviction for Marijuana possession can have a long lasting impact. It can preclude a person from finding employment or even working in certain fields such as health care. Background checks may result in denials when renting an apartment or even preclude the person convicted from traveling to certain countries. With experienced counsel, you may be able to avoid a conviction by qualifying for certain diversion programs or presenting a strong enough defense that a Stay of Prosecution is offered. A Stay of prosecution means that you can serve a term of probation and, if you successfully complete the term, your charges can be dismissed.
Driver's License Revocations
Under Minnesota Statutes A?152.0271, if convicted of most drug crimes where the contraband was possessed or sold while driving a motor vehicle, the court may notify the Department of Public Safety which will revoke the license of the driver. This collateral consequence is not always apparent when pleading in a criminal case.
Under Minnesota Statutes A?A?609.52 - 609.552, the municipality (city or state) may seek to forfeit the assets of a person if the assets are determined to have been used or derived from the possession or sale of contraband. This includes cash the person may have on them, vehicles and even homes. This is a separate case from the criminal proceeding and requires that the person whose assets are to be seized files a Complaint seeking the recovery of the forfeited items. There is often a very short time line for such filings.
Additional resources provided by the author
Maury D. Beaulier is a criminal defense and DWI attorney licensed in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He is recognized as a leader in drug defense cases and can be reached from his website at http://www.criminal-law.tv