Alabama's criminal justice system divides the crime of possession of marijuana into two degrees.
I. Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree-Misdemeanor Possession
A person who knowingly in possession of marijuana for their own personal use (and who has never been convicted of possession of marijuana) would be guilty of Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree pursuant Alabama law. This crime is a misdemeanor and the sentence is not more than one year of incarceration.
II. Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree
The next level of marijuana possession under Alabama law is called Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree. As of January 30, 2016 Alabama changed its laws pertaining to Possession of Marijuana, First-Degree.
Possession of Marijuana in the First Degree is a felony offense; however, the range of punishment for this crime depends on the manner in which the crime was committed.
This crime can be committed to one of two ways:
Possession of Marijuana for other than personal use-Felony
The first way this crime can be committed is when a person is knowingly in possession of marijuana but for other than their own personal use. In other words if the marijuana is to be used by anyone other than the person who is in direct possession of it, the crime becomes a felony.
A common way this charge occurs is when someone is arrested with significant amount of marijuana, but the amount is less than is required to trip Alabama's trafficking laws. This charge may also result from a statement of the accused person that they were going to use the marijuana for other than their own personal use.
Possession of marijuana for other than personal use is a Class C Felony. A Class C Felony carries range of punishment from one year and one day 10 years' incarceration.
Possession of marijuana after having been previously convicted of possession of marijuana in any degree- Felony
The crime of possession of marijuana, first-degree can also be committed is when an individual is found in possession of marijuana after having been previously convicted of possession of marijuana in any degree.
Possession of marijuana after having been previously convicted of possession of marijuana is a Class D Felony, which carries punishment from one year and one day to five years' incarceration.
If I am guilty of one of these crimes will I have a conviction?
Not necessarily, A defense lawyer may be able to negotiate for a counseling program to avoid a conviction for a person who has a clean (or at least relatively clean) criminal background.
Even if the prosecution is not willing to negotiate, there may be a variety of defenses that could result in the dismissal of the charges or a finding of not guilty after a trial. Of course, every case has somewhat different facts and anyone accused of possession of marijuana should speak with a qualified criminal defense lawyer.
If you'd like our help here at Segal and Segal just give us a call. Our number is (256) 533-4529.