Being charged with possession of marijuana is one of the more common criminal offenses in Alabama. Unlike other states, Alabama treats possession of marijuana in any degree as a criminal offense. A conviction for any amount of marijuana can potentially result in jail or prison. However, our experience has been that in cases of marijuana possession prosecutors are frequently willing to allow some sort of negotiated resolution that permits a person without a prior criminal history, or one with a minor criminal history, to avoid a conviction.
Sometimes people make the mistake of pleading guilty to these charges without consulting a lawyer. This is a mistake. A conviction will have both direct and indirect consequences. For example, a person with any criminal conviction often discovers it is much more difficult to obtain employment. A conviction will affect a person's reputation and can have consequences in other areas such as divorce, child custody issues and attempts to obtain a pistol permit. Any further convictions would result in felony charges.
In most marijuana cases, a lawyer can help achieve more positive results for their client.
In our view, a person accused of possession of marijuana should always consult an attorney before making any decision.
The video below addresses some of the more common ways people get charged with possession of marijuana.
Of course, if you'd like to speak with us in person just give us a call or fill out the contact information.
THE THREE TYPES OF MARIJUANA POSSESSION CHARGES IN ALABAMA
There are three types of marijuana possession charges in Alabama.
The first of these, known as possession of marijuana in the second degree is a misdemeanor offense.
The other two marijuana possession charges are both called possession of marijuana in the second degree. This crime can be committed in two different ways and the punishment depends upon the manner in which the crime was committed.
First let's address the most common type of marijuana charge in the state of Alabama, misdemeanor possession of marijuana also known as possession of marijuana, second degree:
Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree.
This crime occurs when someone is in knowing possession of marijuana and that marijuana is for their own personal use.
This crime is a misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is one year in jail. Under Alabama state law the maximum fine is $15,000.
Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree after a previous misdemeanor marijuana conviction
This crime is committed when a person possesses marijuana and has a previous conviction for possession of marijuana. This crime is a class D felony. The maximum punishment for this offense is five years in prison and a fine as high as $7500.00
Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree where a person possesses marijuana for other than their own personal use
This crime is committed when someone is in possession of marijuana and that possession is for other than their own personal use.
This crime is a class C felony. The maximum sentence for this offense is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000.00
THE FOUR BASIC DEFENSES IN POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA CASES
There are four basic issues that a lawyer investigates in defending any possession of marijuana case:
Can a prosecutor prove "knowing" possession?
For someone to be guilty of possession of marijuana, the prosecutor has to prove that the accused was in “knowing “possession of marijuana.
This issue comes up frequently when there are other multiple people involved or other people have access to marijuana. For example, if someone is driving a car in which marijuana is found, the lawyer will investigate whether or not other people had access to the car, whose car it is, and any other evidence that points away from the defendant having knowledge of the marijuana. Simply being present near marijuana is not enough to make someone guilty, the prosecution must prove that the person had knowing possession of that marijuana.
Did the police screw up?
Your lawyer will look at the facts of your case to determine whether or not the police acted properly. If the police acted in a manner that violated your constitutional rights that can result in evidence being kept out by the judge. Any lawyer who practices in the area of marijuana cases must be well familiar with the law concerning search and seizure. Most of these issues will have to do with the fourth amendment to the United States Constitution although, other constitutional issues come into play.
For example, if a police officer did not have sufficient grounds to stop automobile than any evidence that was recovered as a result of that illegal stop could be thrown out by the judge. If the court excludes all evidence of marijuana because of mistakes on the part of the police the charges against the accused would be dismissed.
For this reason, your lawyer should go over all of the evidence to determine if the police either made mistakes or acted improperly and if evidence can exclude as a result.
Can the substance be properly identified as marijuana?
The law on this issue has recently changed, in our opinion, for the worse. The law used to require laboratory analysis to determine that the substance seized actually was marijuana. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Lawn Alabama is that a law enforcement officer, if “sufficiently qualified” can testify that, in his opinion, the substances marijuana.
Because of this, your lawyer needs to be able to establish the officer is not sufficiently qualified to testify (or to justify his opinion) that the substance is marijuana. The point of this cross-examination is to show that the officer lacks the ability to distinguish marijuana from similar substances. Typically, the material seized in some sort of crushed material - this means the officer cannot identify the shape of the leaves and it is unlikely the officer investigated the DNA of the substance, the cellular structure, or accurately tested for the presence of THC. In fact, marijuana is a type of plant called the dicot of which there are 32,000 varieties.
If there is a trial, your lawyer may choose to question the officer's qualifications to identify the substance as marijuana. In fairness-or perhaps in “unfairness”- many judges take the attitude of “the cop says it's marijuana, that's good enough for me.”. Of course, not all judges will behave in this manner and juries are frequently more willing to accept that a police officer is not able to identify marijuana with any great degree of certainty.
Can my client attend a counseling program to avoid a conviction?
Sometimes the best “defense” is not actually a defense at all but a negotiated resolution.
The social stigma of marijuana use is fading and, prosecutors have become more generous in providing people an opportunity to resolve these cases without a conviction. In many cases, the best resolution is to see if the prosecutor will permit your clients to attend a counseling program where, if they successfully complete the counseling, the charges against them are dismissed. In almost all instances, the prosecutor is the gatekeeper to these programs and, unless the prosecution offers this is a resolution the court will not, independently, provide this option. If this is a situation in your case, lawyers negotiating skill and rapport with the prosecutor is quite important. You should be aware that there are a variety of different types of programs and they differ depending upon where you are going to court.
In many cases, the best resolution is to see if the prosecutor will permit your clients to attend a counseling program where, if they successfully complete the counseling, the charges against them are dismissed. In almost all instances, the prosecutor is the gatekeeper to these programs and, unless the prosecution offers this is a resolution the court will not, independently, provide this option. If this is a situation in your case, your lawyers negotiating skill and rapport with the prosecutor is quite important.
You should be aware that there are a variety of different types of programs and they differ depending upon where you are going to court.
MARIJUANA DEFENSE LAWYERS
Mr. and Mrs. Segal have each practiced law for over 30 years - a combined total of over 60 years. Both are former prosecutors.
Andrew Segal was a prosecutor with the Alabama Attorney General's office as well as the Madison County District Attorney's Office, he has served as a Municipal Court Judge and is the past president of Alabama's Municipal Judges Association.
Sandra Segal served as a prosecutor for the Huntsville City Attorney's Office she is also well versed in Alabama's new expungement laws and, may be able to assist having the charges against you removed from your record.
In approaching these cases the first thing our lawyers will do is to diligently review the facts. Bear in mind that there are often disputes between what law-enforcement claim to be the “true” facts and what the clients say happened.
Segal and Segal will shift through the competing versions of facts and see how these issues relate to the law. For example, we will look to determine whether or not the police acted in accordance with the laws they're called upon to support. Often times law-enforcement officers will exceed the bounds of what they're legally permitted to do. When that happens, the court may decide to exclude evidence which can result in charges being dismissed.
Other issues may include whether or not the prosecution can meet its burden of establishing that a person was in knowing possession of the drugs for example when several people are in an automobile and there are unclaimed drugs, the prosecution would have to prove that the person accused was knowingly in possession of the drugs. If the state fails to meet its burden the person would be acquitted.
In this short space, it's not possible here to explain every potential defense to marijuana charges. Every case is different. For this reason, we offer a free case evaluation. Feel free to contact us at (256) 533-4529 or you can click here to request a free consultation
Whether you hire us or not, you will, at a minimum, leave with a better education as to the legal issues surrounding your case. Even if you are guilty of possession of marijuana, you may be able to avoid a conviction either because of mistakes by the police, insufficient evidence, or by attending a counseling program.
MADISON COUNTY MARIJUANA DEFENSE LAWYERS
Law Offices Of Segal & Segal
If you've been charged with any crime involving marijuana, let the experienced defense team at Law Offices Of Segal & Segal fight for you. We'll seek to get your charges dismissed or reduced, and can help you with options like drug court. We're ready to fight marijuana charges in and around Huntsville, including Decatur, Madison, Athens, and Albertville. Call us today at (256) 533-4529 or send an online message to set up a free consultation. Law Offices Of Segal & Segal defends individuals facing any marijuana charge, including misdemeanor marijuana charges, felony marijuana possession, cultivating or growing marijuana, and sale of marijuana to a minor.
ALABAMA RESOURCES RELATED TO MARIJUANA CHARGES
Huntsville Municipal Court: The Huntsville Municipal Court handles all misdemeanor offenses in the city of Huntsville, Alabama. The contact information for the Huntsville Municipal Court is below.815 Wheeler AvenueHuntsville, AL 35801 256-427-7810 Tel256-427-7829 FAX
Find My Court Date | Madison County Courthouse: Access information about an upcoming court date on the Madison County Clerk website. The Find My Court Date site is provided as a courtesy by the county. Individuals with upcoming court dates should refer to any documents provided by the court or confirm dates with the county clerk. Contact information for the Madison Couty Circuit Clerk can be found below. 100 North Side Square Huntsville, AL 35801 256-532-3380 Tel 256-532-3768 Fax
ALABAMA MARIJUANA LAW INFORMATION CENTER
- Types of Cannabis Charges in Alabama
- Penalties for Marijuana Conviction
- Common Defenses to Marijuana Charges in Huntsville
- Alabama Resources Related to Marijuana Charges