Many people believe that since marijuana is now legal in several states and is medically available to some authorized patients in Pennsylvania, possession of it is no longer a serious crime. However, in this state, marijuana possession is still a criminal offense. If you are caught with even a small amount of marijuana and you don’t have the necessary classification as a medical user, you can be jailed or fined if you are convicted.
You can be arrested for possessing even a small amount of marijuana. The severity of the penalties you face will vary depending on the quantity found. As little as one joint can be grounds for an arrest. Possession of a small amount of marijuana is a statutory class M with an offense gravity score of 1 and a prior offense record score of m.
How a Marijuana Charge Can Harm You
If you are caught with 30 grams or less of marijuana in your possession, intended for your own personal use, it is a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania punishable with up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
With more than 30 grams of marijuana, your punishment will be up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Other penalties include:
- You will have a criminal record that can negatively effect your ability to get a good job, join the military, obtain certain professional licenses or be admitted to graduate school.
- Your driver’s license will be suspended for six months for a first offense, one year for a second offense and two years for a third offense.
- You may be unable to obtain a federally subsidized student loan or other forms of financial aid.
- If you share custody of your children, a marijuana conviction could be damaging to your parental agreement and you might lose some of your rights to see your kids.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Charged
Since marijuana possession charges are complex and come with sizable fines and potential prison time if convicted, it’s best to hire an attorney to help defend your case and work to get these charges reduced or dismissed. An experienced Pittsburgh drug attorney has an in-depth understanding of the law, the know-how to evaluate evidence related to these cases, and an ability to negotiate on your behalf for a better outcome. Representing yourself could put you in a worse spot.
Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you. Your Pittsburgh marijuana lawyer will go over what happened both before and after your arrest. Importantly, he or she will assess whether there was probable cause to charge you with a crime. This includes determining if the marijuana really belonged to you.
If you were arrested for marijuana possession while you were in your car, a critical aspect of your case will be whether or not the police had probable cause to pull you over and do a search. If there was not probable cause, the evidence obtained by law enforcement can be suppressed.