Basic things you should know if you're a first-time offender charged with a marijuana offense
There are some basic things you need to know if you're a first-time marijuana offender in Alabama.
Possession of marijuana can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Misdemeanor possession of marijuana
Possession of marijuana for personal use is a misdemeanor and under Alabama law, the maximum punishment is one year in jail and a fine as high as $6000. If your case is in a municipal court, both the punishment and fine may be lower depending on that jurisdiction. See Alabama Criminal Code § 13A-12-214
Felony possession of marijuana when marijuana is possessed For Other Than Personal Use
If you are accused of being in possession of marijuana for other than your own personal use, you are charged with felony possession of marijuana. If you have had a previous marijuana conviction, and you found to be in possession of any amount of marijuana, that crime is a different version possession of marijuana First Degree. Obviously a person with a previous marijuana conviction is not a "first offender" however your lawyer still can do much to protect you.
Possession of marijuana for other than your own personal use is a class C felony under Alabama law. The range of punishment is from one year and one day in prison to 10 years in prison. The maximum fine is $15,000. Possession of marijuana after a previous conviction is a class D felony with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $7500. See Alabama Criminal Code § 13A-12-213
So what do I need to know?
While any criminal offense for which you could go to jail or prison is frightening, many prosecutors and courts have softened their stance on marijuana cases.
This means that even if you are guilty of the charge, it may be possible for you to avoid a conviction if you are willing to attend and successfully complete some form of a counseling program. These programs are typically offered at the discretion of the prosecutor. This means that your lawyer would need to negotiate with the prosecutor to see if this might be a viable option for you.
Even if the prosecution is not willing to offer such a program, it is unusual for people charged with a first-time marijuana offense, whether it's a misdemeanor or even a felony, to face actual imprisonment. That means that even in an awful case your lawyer may well be able to negotiate to keep you from serving actual time.
You should also remember that just because you are accused of the crime does not mean that you are guilty of a crime. Under our laws, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the crime has been committed. The burden of proving a crime has been committed is entirely on the prosecution and an accused person is not required to do anything. This means that even if someone is guilty, the state may not be able to establish this.
A good lawyer will thoroughly investigate your case. If the police acted improperly that can result in a judge not allowing certain evidence in. So, if for example, the judge prevents the state from admitting the marijuana into evidence you could win the case even if you actually committed the crime. You should thoroughly discuss all facts of your case with your attorney so that he may be fully prepared to defend you to the best of his ability.
If you're charged with possession of marijuana case in North Alabama, and you'd like our help, just give us a call at (256) 533-4529 or contact us here: