There are six classes of possession of marihuana crimes in New York, and criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree is the most serious of these charges. The New York Penal Code classifies this charge as a felony. According to New York Penal Code § 221.30, an individual in New York would face a first degree criminal possession of marihuana charge if he or she:
- Was in possession of one or more mixtures, compounds, preparations, or substances that contain marihuana;
- Did so knowingly and unlawfully;
- The amount of marihuana weighed more than 10 pounds.
It is also important to keep in mind that New York Penal Code § 220.25 states that if the substance was found in a a vehicle, it is sufficient evidence that the individual or individuals in the vehicle are in possession of the substance. When marihuana is found in an open room, individuals who are close to the substance could be charged with criminal possession.
What is an Example of Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the First Degree?
Law enforcement officials show up at a woman’s home in response to a disturbance call. Upon arrival, the police notice the smell of marihuana when the woman answered the door. The police officers observe a couple of baggies of marihuana and a few joints. The police officers search the house and discover a large box of marihuana. The marihuana was weighed at the lab and was a total of 12 pounds. In this circumstance, the woman may be charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree.
Defenses to Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the First Degree
When an individual is charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree, the accused may be able to challenge the charged based on the weight of the marihuana. If the total weight of the marihuana was not more than 10 pounds, a prosecutor would have no other choice but to drop or reduce the charge.
Another defense involving criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree is to prove that the search, which resulted in the charge, was unlawful. When a police officer arrests an individual, the officer must follow a certain set of rules and guidelines. If a police officer doesn’t follow these rules, a prosecutor will have to drop the charges.
A valid defense that is commonly used for this charge is that the individual was not in actual possession of the marihuana. There are many times when the marihuana belonged to another individual.
What are the Penalties for Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the First Degree?
Criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree is a class C felony, which means individuals who are convicted of this crime could spend up to 15 years in prison. The minimum prison sentence for this crime is three to seven years. The minimum prison sentence for this crime depends of in an individual has been convicted of prior felony. After an individual serves his or her prison sentence, he or she could be required to carry out a period of post-release supervision.
An individual convicted of criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree will also face fines. A judge could order that an individual who is convicted of this crime pay up to $15,000 in mandatory fees.
Other Common Charges Related to Criminal Possession of Marihuana in the First Degree
When an individual is charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree, the police may also try to charge him or her with the sale of marijuana. It is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney when you are facing these circumstances. A criminal defense attorney understands the legal process and can develop an effective defense strategy for each client.