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CT defense lawyerIn 2011, Connecticut’s then-governor signed legislation decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, reducing the sentence from incarceration to a fine, between $150-$500 per offense. However, too many people hear this and assume that this means no consequences for possession at all. In reality, being charged with possession of any drug is still a serious offense that requires an experienced legal professional to manage.

Infractions vs. Crimes

Decriminalized offenses are still considered infractions, which means that consequences still attach. While these offenses do not carry a penalty of incarceration, they do still carry fines, and can still cause serious problems in the future, since a possession conviction as an adult will generally remain on a person’s criminal record. Also, after your second conviction for this infraction, you can be ordered into a drug treatment program by the court.

It may seem a good idea to simply pay a ticket for possession of marijuana, but in reality, it causes far more trouble than it alleviates in the short-term. Admitting your guilt means that the offense remains on your record, where it can be visible to future employers, loan officers, and others in positions of authority. In most situations, it is best to try and fight the charge, so you can potentially duck that blemish on your record.

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CT criminal lawyerIn 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.

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Posted on in Drug Charges

Connecticut defense attorneyIn Connecticut, marijuana possession is unlawful and can result in fines and even jail time. Fortunately, there are a variety of defenses that can be raised to counter these types of charges, so if you live in Norwalk and have been arrested for or formally charged with possession of marijuana or another drug, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can explain your legal options.

Possession of Less Than Half Ounce

The severity of a marijuana possession charge depends on how much of the drug was found on the defendant’s person and whether he or she has a prior criminal record. For instance, those who are arrested with less than half an ounce of marijuana will only be charged a $150 fine for a first offense, while the fine for a subsequent offense increases to between $200 and $500. Third-time violators must pay for, attend, and complete a drug education class. Those who are under the age of 21 years old will also have their driver’s license suspended for two months.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Decriminalization.jpgThe debate over the legalization of marijuana is heating up in Connecticut. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle argued at a legislative hearing that the legalization of recreational marijuana would effectively dismantle the illegal market for cannabis. Among other things argued, advocates of legalization laid out several benefits including:

  • Ending unnecessary arrests of people for possession of marijuana;
  • Bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue to the state;
  • Creation of a new job market; and
  • Bolstering of tourism market.

Possession of small amounts of marijuana has already been decriminalized in Connecticut. Advocates of legalization say that not regulating marijuana is tantamount to subsidizing the illegal market that fosters violence and additional criminal behavior. David L. Nathan, a psychiatrist and faculty member at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said, “I’ve seen too many cases of lives ruined by marijuana not by the drug itself, but by a justice system that chooses a sledgehammer to kill a weed.”

If Legalizing Pot Has So Many Benefits, Why Are There Opponents?

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marijuana, decriminalization, Connecticut Criminal Defense LawyerAttitudes across the country are changing when it comes to marijuana and the punishment for marijuana possession, and Connecticut is no exception. According to Connecticut law, the state currently carries fines and criminal penalties for certain levels of possession. Possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana carries a $150 fine for the first offense. Penalties become increasingly harsh with frequency of offense: a second offense can carry up to a $500 penalty. Third-time offenders will have to attend drug education classes, which will be paid for by their own means. The more substance, the higher the penalty as well: if a person has more than a half-ounce but less than 4 ounces of cannabis he or she can face up to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison, or both. These penalties were enacted in 2011, making possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil violation instead of a criminal offense, as it had been in previous years.

Even still, in light of legalization in Washington and Colorado and decriminalization of marijuana in many other states, these punishments can seem unduly tough. This is perhaps one reason attitudes in Connecticut are changing toward the necessity of strict penalties for marijuana possession and recreational use.

In recent months, the Connecticut state legislature seems ready to discuss further decriminalization and even possible legalization. Representative Edwin Vargas and Representative Juan Candelaria have both introduced house bills that would replace prohibition of marijuana with restrictive legalization for adult use. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, a recent study out of Quinnipiac University found that the majority of Connecticut voters support legalization of marijuana for adults: 52 percent of all voters supported such a measure, as did 80 percent of voters under the age of 30.

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marijuana DUI, Connecticut drug crimes lawyerThe decriminalization of marijuana is a growing trend nationwide. In Washington and Colorado, marijuana has been legalized, while in almost half the states—including Connecticut—it may be used legally only for medical purposes. However, there may be a darker side to these trends: a recent study shows that the number of marijuana-related automobile fatalities has risen sharply in the last decade. The data suggest that drugged driving may be an increasingly common cause of car accidents.

According to a report by the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the presence of non-alcohol drugs in the systems of drivers involved in fatal car crashes has been on the rise and has tripled in the last decade. Using data from the states that routinely test the blood of drivers involved in fatal car accidents, the study reported that in 1999, 4.2 percent of drivers who were killed in automobile crashes tested positive for marijuana; in 2010, that number increased to 12.2 percent. The major increase was shown across all ages and in both genders.

The study also showed that alcohol use was more prevalent than drug use in drivers involved in fatal crashes, but that percentage has stayed relatively stable. The presence of all non-alcohol drugs increased from 16.6 percent in 1999 to 28.3 percent in 2010. This increase may be attributable to the decriminalization of marijuana as well as the national opioid use epidemic. While all states have laws prohibiting impaired driving, the national trend toward permitting at least limited marijuana use may be a factor in the increased number of drugged-driving incidents.

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Connecticut teen drug use, Stamford juvenile crimes defense lawyerMultiple news headlines these days focus on teenage drug use. With drug reform taking place across the country, specifically the decriminalization of marijuana, growing trends among today’s youth concern many Americans.

Unlike other short-term trends, drug use can cause teens to face steep legal penalties that may affect the rest of their lives. Parents, teachers, and social workers are trying to find the best ways to identify and prevent drug use among teens.

Statistics reveal mixed results when it comes to answering the question about whether or not teens these days are experimenting with illegal drugs more often. The numbers for Connecticut reveal more concerning figures in regard to cigarettes and alcohol than they do for illegal substances, according to the Office of Adolescent Health. Although these controlled substances are more likely to get teens in trouble with their parents than with the law, it still is a cause for concern.

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marijuana, drug possession, drug charges, criminal charges, Stamford drug charges, criminal defense lawyerWhether you already have a criminal record, or a marijuana drug possession charge is your first offense, you should take your case seriously and hire a criminal attorney. In Connecticut, there are several different types of charges you might be facing if you are caught with marijuana and you are not protected under Connecticut medical marijuana laws.

If you are arrested with less than 4 ounces of marijuana, you could be facing a fine of $1,000 and, you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail. Any case involving higher quantities of marijuana can have more severe consequences.

Even young adults can face penalties if caught with marijuana: for possession of less than 5 ounces or possession of drug paraphernalia related to less than 5 ounces of marijuana, a juvenile under the age of 16 will have their license suspended for at least 60 days. Youth aged 17-21 will face fines and driver’s license suspension as well. Juveniles may also need to attend drug counseling and complete a certain number of community service hours.

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