Defending Your Marijuana Charges in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, drug charges, including those for small amounts marijuana, may result in a criminal record that could impact your future. A criminal record can make it difficult to get employment or to obtain loans. It can negatively affect custody cases or other family law matters. It can even affect your ability to rent or purchase a home. If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, make it your top priority to hire an attorney who understands Pennsylvania law. Attorney Caterina Saile knows the law, has a proven track record and has the experience needed to develop an effective legal defense plan for you. You don’t have to let the collateral consequences of one mistake ruin your life. Attorney Caterina Saile can help.
Possession of Marijuana
Many people think they have to be caught using marijuana or operating under its effects to be charged with a crime. This is not true. A charge of Possession of Marijuana is common for people found merely possessing marijuana. In Pennsylvania, Possession is defined as…
“Knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled or counterfeit substance by a person not registered under this act, or a practitioner not registered or licensed by the appropriate state board, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription order or order of a practitioner, or except as otherwise authorized by this Act.” 35 Pa.C.S.A. 113-780(a)(16).
An officer does not have to catch you smoking marijuana nor do not need a positive drug test result to be found guilty of possession of marijuana. You only have to be caught with marijuana on you or within your personal belongings (such as your vehicle or your purse) to be charged with possession. If you are arrested for possession of marijuana in an amount that is not enough for you to be considered selling, distribution, or drug dealing, you could still be charged with a criminal offense and bear the burden of a criminal record for years to come.
If you are convicted of possession of marijuana and it is your first offense, you will be found guilty of a misdemeanor, sentenced to up to a year in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $5,000. If you have been previously convicted of possession of marijuana, you will be facing a much tougher sentence. A second offense possession of marijuana is punishable by fines up to $25,000 and up to three years in prison.
Attorney Caterina Saile has over 15 years of experience with drug cases including marijuana. You may contact the law offices of Saile & Saile to schedule your free consultation to discuss your options in detail and work with you to strategize a defense that will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
What if It’s Just One Joint?
You do not have to possess a large amount of marijuana to face some hefty penalties. Possession of even one ‘joint’ or edibles can be enough to get you in trouble with law enforcement under the current laws in Pennsylvania.
35 Pa.C.S.A. 113-780(a)(31)(i) specifically prohibits the possession of “a small amount of marijuana for personal use.”
A “small amount” is defined as 30 grams or less of marijuana (or 8 grams or less of hashish). While the penalties may be lower with possession of a small amount of marijuana, if you have been charged with this offense, the consequences may still have a serious impact on your life. Possession of a small amount of marijuana is still considered a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of possession of a small amount of marijuana, you could be facing up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence
If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana and also charged with Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana, you will be facing minimum mandatory jail time and mandatory license suspension on your DUI. This applies even if it is your first offense DUI. Click here for more information relating to Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana.
I’ve Been Charged, Now What?
A drug arrest, such as an arrest for possession of marijuana, does not have to automatically result in a criminal conviction. There are alternative programs available to certain people charged with possession of marijuana. Although laws are designed to protect the public, the law also recognizes that people sometimes make mistakes. There is a program specifically designed for first time offenders in Bucks County (as well as other counties in Pennsylvania such as Montgomery County and Philadelphia County) who are charged with specific criminal offenses. The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD) enables some first-time offenders to avoid a permanent criminal record. The Bucks County ARD program is run by the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office. Acceptance into the ARD program is completely decided by the District Attorney. An attorney with experience with the Bucks County ARD process can advise you if you are a good candidate for the ARD program and can explain to you your options if you have been rejected from the Bucks County ARD program. If you are accepted in the ARD program and if you complete all of the ARD program requirements, your possession of marijuana charge could be dismissed and/or expunged from your record. If you would like to know if you are eligible for ARD, consult with an experienced attorney like Caterina Saile, Esquire to learn about how this program could benefit you.
What If I Don’t Qualify For ARD?
Unfortunately, not everyone is eligible for the ARD program. The District Attorney considers many different factors when determining if you are ARD eligible. One major factor is if you have been convicted of a crime in the past, you may not be eligible for this program. If you have received the benefit of ARD or a similar program in the past, you may also be ineligible. That does not necessary mean you cannot fight your case. Other legal remedies may be available to you. A criminal defense attorney familiar with drug crimes and all available programs can discuss these options with you.
We Can Help
If you are found guilty of possession of marijuana, the repercussions could affect more than just your criminal record. It is important to choose a lawyer who understands all of the potential collateral consequences and can explain how they apply in your case. At Saile and Saile, LLP, we are committed to achieving the best possible results for you and helping you to get your life back to normal as soon as possible. With over 15 years of criminal law experience, Attorney Caterina Saile has represented individuals just like you who do not want the consequences of one mistake to ruin their lives. Saile & Saile, LLP is skilled at managing the case process. We can keep you informed and on track each step of the way. Your legal defense is important!