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Criminal Possession of Marijuana: The Possible Penalties Upon Conviction

A previous article on this blog discussed the potential impacts of unlawful possession of marijuana in the state of New York. Although unlawful possession of marijuana is a violation in the state of New York, you may still be arrested and charged criminally for possessing marijuana anywhere in the state.

New York’s penal code covers two scenarios that may result in an arrest and subsequent conviction for criminal possession of marijuana. Any individual may be charged for criminal possession of marijuana if that person possesses marijuana in a public place and the marijuana is burning or is open for the public to view it. A public place does not necessarily mean that another individual needs to be present; a charge may result if the place is one in which the public or a substantial group of persons have access.

An individual may also be charged for criminal possession if the substance contains marijuana in an amount that exceeds 25 grams. The weight of the marijuana will determine the classification of the offense.

Misdemeanor Possession

There are two types of misdemeanor offenses: (1) criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree and (2) criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree. A charge for a fifth degree offense may occur if the individual possessed more than 25 grams of marijuana but less than two ounces of marijuana at the time of the arrest. A conviction will be classified as a class B misdemeanor, which may subject the individual to three months in jail. Criminal possession in the fourth degree may be charged when an individual possesses more than two ounces but less than eight ounces of marijuana. A conviction for a fourth degree crime is a class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors carry possible penalties of up to one year in jail.

Felony Possession

There are three different types of felony possession of marijuana: (1) criminal possession of marijuana in the third degree; (2) criminal possession in the second degree; and (3) criminal possession in the first degree. As with misdemeanor possession charges, the potential penalties become harsher as the weight of the marijuana increases. A third degree crime occurs when an individual has more than eight ounces of marijuana at the time of the arrest. Upon conviction, a defendant will generally face up to 1 ½ years in prison. Upon conviction for a second degree felony, for possessing more than 16 ounces of marijuana, an individual may serve up to 2 ½ years of imprisonment. Finally, the most severe charge for criminally possessing marijuana are class C felonies. These felonies are punishable by up to 5 ½ years in prison.

In felony possession cases, additional periods of incarceration may be imposed if prior convictions have occurred.

For More Information Contact Us Today

If you or someone you know has been arrested for criminal possession of marijuana, you should meet with an attorney to develop a course of action. An arrest does not mean a conviction. The state has the burden of proving you committed a crime. Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law will meet with you to discuss how you can properly defend your case. Contact our Rockland County office today.

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