Unlawful Marijuana Possession in New York City
The most distinct difference between marijuana possession charges brought under NYPL § 221.05 rather than NYPL §§ 221.10-30, is that § 221.05, the lowest level of marijuana possession, is not a crime in New York State. The charge brought under § 221.05 is unlawful possession of marijuana, not criminal possession. While possession of marijuana is never legal in this state, it is important to note that there is a distinction between an action that is unlawful versus one that is criminal. The top attorneys at our firm have years of experience successfully litigating unlawful marijuana possession charges in New York City. Therefore, if you are facing these charges, you should contact our firm right away.
How Does Someone Receive Unlawful Possession of Marijuana Charges in New York City?
Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in New York City is a violation on the same level as Disorderly Conduct. Being convicted of this offense will not result in a criminal record, however, the conviction will still appear on a person’s criminal history.
A person can be convicted under this statute when they merely possess marijuana. There is no requirement that the marijuana be in public view, or burning; the only requirement is that the marijuana is in the person’s possession. For the purposes of this statute, being in possession means to have the marijuana on your person, in a pocket for example, or to have immediate control over an area where marijuana is recovered, such as the center console of a vehicle.
The most common example of how this offense occurs is when an individual is being placed under arrest for an unrelated action, and during the course of that arrest, the police officer conducts a search of the person to ensure that this individual does not have any weapons. During the course of that search, the police officer uncovers a bag of marijuana, and tacks on the Unlawful Possession of Marijuana charge to whatever else the person was arrested for.
In that situation, even if the prosecutor later determines that they no longer wish to proceed with the charges stemming from the underlying arrest, they can still move forward with the Unlawful Possession of Marijuana charges, provided the recovery was based on a valid and lawful search. To preserve your rights, it is important to hire an attorney who is intimately familiar with the law concerning searches and seizures, and who will fight for suppression of any illegally recovered contraband.
Will an Unlawful Marijuana Possession Charge Send You to Jail?
Cases charged under N.Y. PL §221.05 for unlawful marijuana possession will not typically result in a required period of incarceration. This is because this crime is a low-level offense that does not constitute a criminal act, and therefore prison time will not be imposed. Instead, most individuals who are convicted of violating this statute for intentionally and illegally possessing marijuana may have to pay a fine, typically of no more than $100.
Other Potential Legal Consequences
While an unlawful marijuana possession in New York City conviction may result in a maximum fine of $100, there are a few circumstances in which the legal consequences for this charge can be elevated. Pursuant to N.Y. PL § 221.05, a person who has been convicted of a drug-related crime or marijuana violation at any point in the three years leading up to the current violation may face enhanced penalties. The state permits the court to assess a higher fine in such cases and even jail time.
In the case of one prior conviction in the three years leading up to the current unlawful marijuana possession charge, the maximum fine amount would be $200. If the individual has been convicted twice in three years of a drug-related offense, they could be ordered to spend 15 days in jail, as well as pay a $250 fine if convicted of unlawful marijuana possession.