Marijuana Possession Charges in Connecticut
In recent years, there has been a push to legalize small amounts of marijuana in various states around the country. Connecticut is one of the states that has made a change, reducing the penalty for possession of less than ½ ounce of marijuana to a criminal violation, rather than a misdemeanor or felony. However, if you are stopped with more than ½ an ounce, you can still be charged with a drug crime in Connecticut. If this is you, be aware that you do have options, especially if you have a knowledgeable attorney on your side.
Penalties Still in Force
While the penalty for possession of minor amounts and possession of some marijuana-related paraphernalia has been lowered to a violation, the sentencing for conviction on possession of larger amounts or for distribution remains unchanged, and a conviction will stay on your record for many years afterward. A first-time misdemeanor possession charge carries a jail term of at least 1 year, while a felony conviction means at least 5 years in jail.
Distribution penalties are even more severe, even for a first offense. Depending on the amount involved in the charge, you can face anywhere between 5 and 20 years in prison. If you are convicted of distributing 1 kilogram or more, there is a mandatory minimum of 5 years, plus all the attendant fines. In addition, there are modifiers that can add time, such as distributing to someone under 18 or distributing within 1,500 feet of a school.
Should I Bother Fighting?
When you receive a ticket or citation for a marijuana charge, many people simply plead guilty and pay the fine, without being aware of what that does specifically. If you plead guilty by mail, even to a charge like possession of less than ½ ounce, it will still show up on your record as a violation. While a violation carries fewer consequences than a conviction, employers are still able to see that on your record and may react accordingly. If you can defend against the charge, it is generally in your best interests to do so.
Under Connecticut’s old marijuana laws, taking a drug education class would wipe out many minor charges. However, under the current decriminalization regime, because people are unaware of the fact that violations still show up on a criminal or financial background check, more people wind up experiencing severe consequences than they previously would. It is important that you consult an attorney on this issue so that you understand your options fully before you decide what to do.
Call a Stamford Marijuana Possession Attorney
While Connecticut is taking steps toward relaxing its marijuana laws, most of the penalties for its distribution and possession are still firmly in place. If you have been charged or ticketed for pot possession, you need to contact an experienced Stamford drug crimes attorney to ensure that you have all the information you need in order to make a choice. The Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner has handled many of these cases, and we are happy to try and work for you. Call our Fairfield County office today at 203-348-5846 to schedule a free consultation.