First Degree Criminal Marijuana Possession: New York Penal Code § 221.30

People sometimes consider possession of marijuana a minor offense, especially when used for recreational purposes. In general, they do not consider possession of marijuana a serious problem, especially when it is compared to possession of other controlled drugs such as cocaine and heroin. However, unlawfully and knowingly having ten pounds or more of marijuana is an extremely serious crime. First degree criminal marijuana possession is a Class C felony in the State of New York. A person is guilty of this crime if they:

  1. Possessed marijuana or substances, mixtures, compounds, or preparations containing it,
  2. Knowingly and unlawfully did so, and
  3. Had ten pounds or more of marijuana or substances, mixtures, compounds, or preparations containing it.

Under New York Penal Code 220.25, if person is in a vehicle and marijuana is found in the vehicle, that constitutes possession. However, the exception to this rule is that if another person is in the vehicle and the marijuana was found on that person, then that individual is considered to have possession of the marijuana. Further, if marijuana is in a room that is available for open viewing, then any person who is in close proximity to the marijuana would be considered in possession of the marijuana.

Hypothetical Case

A domestic violence dispute was reported, and police officers responded to the call. A woman opened the front door, and the officers could smell marijuana. They could, also, see marijuana cigarettes on the living room coffee table and several bags of marijuana on the kitchen table. Upon further inspection, the officers also found large plastic bags of marijuana in the bedroom closet. In total, the marijuana weighed twelve pounds. The woman was arrested and charged with first degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Possible Defenses

Lack of probable cause. In New York state, probable cause must be present to conduct a legal search of an individual’s person, home, car, office, or other property. Probable cause is present when law enforcement officers have reason to believe that a crime had been committed. However, if the premise of probable cause can be undermined, materials seized during the search, such as marijuana in this case, is not permissible as evidence, thus creating a means for compelling the prosecuting attorney to withdraw the charge.

The marijuana weighs less than ten pounds. Unless the marijuana weighed at least ten pounds, a person may not be prosecuted under New York Penal Code 221.30. If the defense can build a case that shows the amount of marijuana was less than the minimum of ten pounds, they may be able to get the charge of first degree criminal possession of marijuana dropped.

Other lines of defense. Experienced defense attorneys who have handled a wide variety of drug-related cases may be able to employ other defensive tactics that lead to dismissal or reduction in the charge.

Possible Sentence

To determine the appropriate sentence to fit the crime, the presiding judge will take into consideration the person’s history, background and any criminal record. If a person does not have a criminal record, the judge may impose a lenient sentence on the convicted person.

Imprisonment. First degree criminal marijuana possession is a Class C felony. If convicted, the maximum possible sentence is fifteen years behind bars. The minimum years in prison are three and a half or seven years depending on the existence of a prior conviction.

Probation. The judge may add a probationary period as part of the sentence for a person found guilty of the crime of first degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Monetary Fine. The judge may also demand a monetary fine up to $15,000 for conviction of first degree criminal marijuana possession as well as mandatory fees.

NY Penal Code § 221.30: First degree criminal marijuana possession

To recap, a person is guilty of first degree criminal marijuana possession when that person unlawfully and knowingly has marijuana or marijuana substances, compounds, preparations, or mixtures in their possession that, in aggregate, weight ten pounds or more.

Lawyer to Defend Against the Charge of First Degree Criminal Marijuana Possession

While unlawfully and knowingly having possession of marijuana in small amounts is a violation and not a crime, possessing marijuana in quantities that are ten pounds or more in aggregate weight is a felony that, if found guilty, will carry a substantial sentence. To effectively defend against a charge of first degree criminal marijuana possession, it is imperative that you immediately obtain legal counsel to protect your interests as effectively as possible.

The Elliott Adler PC law firm has successfully advocated on behalf of individuals charged with first degree criminal marijuana possession, as well as more serious drug crimes. Also, Elliot Adler PC law firm staunchly defends clients accused of controlled substance crimes in New York state. The Elliot Adler PC law firm has a highly qualified team of attorneys that has effectively represented clients in an array of marijuana and drug-related cases, such as the possession, sale or manufacture of controlled drugs, such as marijuana, crack, cocaine, Vicodin, LSD, PCP, OxyContin, methamphetamine, and heroin.

We can be reached at (212) 785-1300 or http://www.newyorkcriminallawyer24-7.com to schedule a no-obligation, free legal consultative meeting to evaluate your case.

Related Offenses

For additional information, refer to the following sections of the New York Penal Code:

  1. First degree criminal sale of a controlled substance: § 220.43
  2. First degree criminal possession of a controlled substance: § 220.21
  3. First degree criminal sale of marijuana: § 221.55