This article provides a brief overview of common marijuana charges in California. It is critical that anyone charged with a marijuana crime understand the charge and potential defenses to it.
Marijuana crimes are generally divided into three categories: (1) possession, (2) possession for sale and (3) sales. Because these are separate criminal charges with different punishments and defenses it is necessary to examine each charge separately.
Possession of marijuana (Health & Safety Code 11357) is charged when a person possesses marijuana for personal use and not for sale. Possession of a small amount of marijuana, usually less than 1oz., is a misdemeanor punishable by no more than a $100 fine. Other marijuana possession charges are misdemeanors, with the exception of possession of hash which can be charged as a felony. In most cases, people charged with marijuana possession qualify for ?drug diversion? which is a drug education program. If the program is completed the marijuana possession charge is usually dismissed!
Possession of marijuana for sale (Health & Safety Code 11359) is a more serious charge than simple possession. It is a felony punishable by 16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison. ?How do the cops and D.A. prove that marijuana was possessed for sale and not for personal use?? They typically rely on the following types of evidence: defendant has marijuana and baggies or a scale; defendant has marijuana and significant cash; and there is more marijuana than expected for personal use. Possession for sales charges must be vigorously defended against. Successful defenses may include (1) insufficient evidence of intent to sell, (2) illegal search and seizure ? it is not uncommon for the cops to find marijuana through an illegal search, and (3) showing that even a large quantity of marijuana may be for personal use.
Marijuana sales (Health & Safety Code 11360) is charged when a defendant allegedly sells or transports to sell marijuana or simply offers to do so. Marijuana sales is generally a felony punishable by a 2, 3 or 4 year prison sentence. Marijuana sales may be charged from direct evidence of sales ? for example a stake out or sting operation ? or based on indirect evidence such as a large quantity of marijuana and frequent visitors to a suspected sales premises. A strong defense must be mounted against any marijuana sales charges. If a an offer to sell was made under duress, as a result of entrapment, based on an illegal search or seizure, or there is otherwise insufficient evidence of actual sales, theses defenses must be raised to challenge the prosecution?s sales charges.
I hope this article has been helpful.
Garret Weinrieb, Esq.
Valerio | Weinrieb Criminal Defense Attorneys
(note: Information contained within this article is intended for general information purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information contained within this article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and use of this article, and any information contained herein, does not constitute such a relationship.)