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Unlawfully Possessing Marijuana: New York Penal Code § 221.05

While marijuana or cannabis is an illegal drug in the State of New York, laws dealing with it are less severe than those dealing with controlled substances such heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine. Possessing small quantities of marijuana is illegal under New York Penal Code § 221.05. Possessing a small amount of marijuana, say in a couple of marijuana cigarettes for personal use, is penalized with a ticket and a fine. However, if the amount of marijuana in a person’s possession exceeds twenty-eight grams, then the charge is elevated to a misdemeanor.

Hypothetical Case

The police responded to a domestic violence incidence. The police officers knocked at the door of the home where the domestic violence was reported. As the door was opened by the husband, the police could smell marijuana emanating from the living room. The police issued the man a ticket for possessing marijuana and took other measures to address the domestic violence complaint.

Possible Defenses

Lack of probable cause. In order to conduct a legal search of a private home or person, the State of New York mandates that probable cause must be present. To assert probable cause, law enforcement officers must have reliable reason to believe that a crime had been committed. If a viable argument can be made that challenges the presence of probable cause as justification for a search, then materials seized during the search, such as marijuana in this case, may not be presented as evidence.

Other lines of defense. Well-qualified defense attorneys with applicable experience in drug-related cases may be able to identify other defensive tactics that would apply in a particular case.

Possible Sentence

Imprisonment. Possession of marijuana in small quantities is a violation and not a crime. As a violation, conviction for possession of small quantities of marijuana will not appear on your criminal record. Incarceration is typically not part of the sentence unless the defendant has been convicted of two other marijuana or controlled substance offenses. In the latter case, the sentence may be up to fifteen days in jail.

Monetary Fine. Possession of small quantities of marijuana typically brings a fine of up to $100, but if the defendant had been convicted of two other marijuana or controlled substance offenses, then the fine may be increased to $250.

NY Penal Code § 221.05: Unlawfully Possessing Marijuana

To summarize, a person is guilty of unlawfully possessing marijuana when that person unlawfully and knowingly has marijuana in their possession.

Lawyer to Defend Against the Charge of Unlawfully Possessing Marijuana

While unlawfully possessing marijuana is a violation and not a crime, it is commonly accompanied by other more serious drug crimes. To effectively defend against the charge of unlawfully possessing marijuana and the association with any other more serious drug offenses, it is important to see legal counsel from a reputable defense attorney who has extensive experience to argue in your behalf.

The Barry C. Weiss P.C. law firm has successfully defended individuals charged with unlawfully possessing marijuana. Moreover, Elliot Adler PC law firm argues aggressively on behalf of clients accused of any of the controlled substance crimes in the State of New York. The Elliot Adler PC law firm has a reputation for building strong defensive cases against all types of marijuana or drug offenses, such as the manufacture, possession or sale of controlled substances such as OxyContin, crack, cocaine, methamphetamine, PCP, Vicodin, LSD, marijuana, and heroin.

We can be reached at (212) 785-1300 or 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. Fifth degree criminal sale of a controlled substance: § 220.31
  2. First degree criminal possession of a controlled substance: § 220.06
  3. Fifth degree criminal sale of marijuana: § 221.35
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