POSSESSION OF A SMALL AMOUNT OF MARIJUANA FOR DISTRIBUTION OR PERSONAL USE
The crime of Possessing a Small Amount of Marijuana should not be taken lightly, as you will lose your driver's license and have a permanent criminal record if convicted. To prove you guilty of this offense, the Commonwealth must establish that you had direct or constructive possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana. Direct possession occurs when marijuana is found on your person, such as in your pocket or in a joint you're holding. Constructive possession applies when drugs are not found on your person, but in an area you control, such as a home or vehicle.
MARIJUANA POSSESSION PENALTIES
Some counties in Pennsylvania are more lenient than others when comes to marijuana possession cases. For marijuana possession, the following penalties may apply:
- 1st Offense: Up to 30 days in jail, mandatory 6-month license suspension and fine of $500, permanent criminal record.
- 2nd Offense: Up to 30 days in jail, mandatory 1-year license suspension, fine of $500, permanent criminal record.
- 3rd Offense: Up to 30 days in jail, mandatory 2-year license suspension, fine of $500, permanent criminal record.
DECRIMINALIZATION IN PITTSBURGH
In 2015, the City of Pittsburgh passed an ordinance providing for the decriminalization of marijuana. This provides the City of Pittsburgh Police with the discretion to charge you with a local ordinance instead of the misdemeanor Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana charge.
The City of Pittsburgh Police are not required to charge you with the local ordinance violation. It is the arresting officer's sole discretion on whether or not to charge you with a misdemeanor or local ordinance offense. If you are found with a small amount of marijuana in connection with other crimes (i.e. DUI where marijuana found in car), you should expect to receive a misdemeanor charge.
This ordinance does not apply to marijuana arrests that occur outside of the city limits. If you are found in Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana outside of city limits, you should expect to be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
DEFENDING YOUR MARIJUANA CASE
Never assume you are guilty of a drug offense even if drugs are found on your person, in your home, or in your vehicle. If the police violated your constitutional rights or made errors during the investigation, your case may be dismissed. Our firm will fight your case when the police commit the following errors:
Failing to test for DNA and fingerprints on containers used to hold drugs, including baggie corners, purses, glove compartments, safes, dresser drawers and other common storage items and locations.
Searching your person or vehicle without probable cause.
Failing to obtain a search warrant, or obtaining a defective search warrant.Failing to submit the marijuana to the crime lab for appropriate testing.
Ignoring evidence that the drugs found belonged to someone else.
HOW ZUCKERMAN LAW FIRM CAN HELP
Don't fight your marijuana possession case alone. Attorney David Zuckerman utilizes his trial experience and negotiation skills to fight for your entry into various diversionary and pre-trial programs, which may include:
- Plea to Non-Traffic Citation at Magistrate's Office: fines and court costs only
- Entry into the ARD Program: Leads to dismissal of charges and expungement of record.
- Probation Without Verdict (PWV) Program: Leads to dismissal of charges and expungement of record.
- Not Guilty Verdict.
If you are charged with a Small Amount of Marijuana, contact the Zuckerman Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation at 412-447-5580. Attorney David Zuckerman was a former drug prosecutor, and puts his experience to use in defending your drug case. Weekend and evening appointments available.