What is required to prove possession of marijuana?
The prosecutor must prove the following to get a conviction for possession of marijuana:
1) the location was in his venue, either county or state;
2) the date of the possession;
3) possession, meaning the defendant knew what it was, and that it was there (knowing), intended for it to be there (voluntary) and exerted control or had the ability to control it.
4) that it really is marijuana (contains THC)
Notice, ownership is not required. If you are simply holding your buddy's stash, you are possessing.
What are the penalties?
For first time possession of marijuana the state statute sets the penalties as a Class A misdemeanor. This means you can be put in the jail for up to one year and get you a fine of up to 2,500 or both. The judge can place you on probation and not require any jail time if he so desires. Probation or jail time is in the discretion of the judge.
For second or subsequent convictions the penalty can be a Level 4 drug felony. You may be presumptive probation or presumptive prison depending on any other convictions on your record. The fine for a felony possession can be up to $100,000 in Kansas.
What about municipal court?
Each municipal court will be slightly different. The vast majority will have the same penalties on the books as a state first time possession. There will be large variances in how the treat the convicted defendant though. Some will go with only a small fine and court costs. Others will want a year penalty and a full scale probation with random urine analysis and drug treatment. It all depends on how harsh that city has decided it wants to be.
What if I had a large amount?
The problem arises when police or prosecutors think that the marijuana was possessed with the intention of selling it. If so the hapless defendant is now looking at a district court case for possession with intent to sell or deliver, a level 3 drug felony. The penalties are more severe and much more likely to end with a prison disposition rather than probation. The police and prosecutors will look at amount, statements of defendant, statements of others, snitches (so be careful who you spend time with), written records, methods of packaging, methods of transport, and prior convictions in deciding whether to allege possession with intent to sell.
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