Criminal Possession of Marijuana in New York City

The New York Penal Law § 221, Criminal Possession of Marijuana, provides various factors and elements that are considered by prosecutors when deciding what charges to bring against arrested for marijuana. For example, small amounts of marijuana found on a person or for example in their car, should not amount to anything more then a non-criminal violation, such as an open container summons. From there, the seriousness of the charge can increase depending on the weight of the marijuana in possession or if sale of the marijuana is being charged. However, regardless of the seriousness of the charge, the skilled narcotics and marijuana possession attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman will do a tooth and nail investigation into the circumstances of the stop, arrest and recovery of the marijuana and background check into any other person involved, to make sure none of your constitutional rights were violated by law enforcement during the interaction.

New York Marijuana Cases: Some Good News

In many situation, especially if this is your first arrest, or first drug-related arrest, these cases can end up in an outright dismissal or an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) under the New York Criminal Procedure Law, § 170.56. If the remaining counts on a criminal complaint or an indictment are violations of section 221 of the New York Penal Law, under the law, you are entitled to an ACD for a period of one year or a dismissal if you meet the following conditions: (1) you have not received a marijuana ACD or dismissal before; or (2) you have not been previously convicted of a crime which involved possession of controlled substances. If you have been convicted of a crime other then one involving controlled substances, then you are still eligible for a marijuana ACD or dismissal if the prosecutor consents. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman are very experienced with getting ACDs for our clients pursuant to CPL § 170.56 and have had much success in achieving favorable outcomes with marijuana-related cases.

The Impact of Mayor de Blasio on the Prosecution of Marijuana Offenses

Prior to November 19, 2014, the mere possession of marijuana in public, regardless of the weight, or whether it was burning, could result in an arrest for a misdemeanor. However, under the de Blasio administration, there has been a move towards decriminalization of lower level marijuana offenses, the first being that possession of smaller amounts of marijuana in public can result in the issuance of a summons rather then arrest and misdemeanor charges. Despite the Mayor’s new initiative towards lower level marijuana offenses, many New York City police officers and Assistant District Attorneys do not share in the Mayor’s ideology and continue to arrest and charge individuals for low level marijuana possession. Although this policy change was announced in late 2014, approximately six months later in March of 2015, the New York Times reported that the Mayor and his police chief were offering “mixed signals” over how to deal with Marijuana offenses. While the Mayor says he “champions the new policy regarding low-level marijuana possession,” Commissioner Bratton compared marijuana to cocaine-related violence in the 1980s and ‘90s. The bottom line is that it is important to hire an attorney who is up to date on the current and changing areas of the marijuana laws, especially on issues where prosecutors are resistant to change. Call us at (212) 581-1001 if you’d like to schedule a consultation with the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman.

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