If you have recently been cited for marijuana possession, you may be wondering how this criminal charge may impact your life. Will you lose access to student loans? Will your housing be impacted? Is there a possibility of actual jail time? These are all important questions to consider because a conviction for marijuana possession could result in an outcome which has drastically negative consequences for your life. Student loans may be denied in the future, public housing may be off limits for you and your family, and in some instances, serious jail time is a real possibility. That said, it is important to note that being charged with marijuana possession is more common than you may believe and, thankfully, the attorneys at iTicket.law are prepared to represent you. In many cases, our attorneys are able to work with the District Attorney to obtain a resolution* that allows you to move on with little impact to your life.
NC Marijuana Possession Laws
Across the country, many states have been making moves to legalize or decriminalize marijuana possession. In North Carolina, marijuana possession has been decriminalized to a small degree, but this is often misinterpreted. When North Carolina decriminalized marijuana, the General Assembly simply decreased the penalties for possession. Marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids are still categorized as Schedule VI substances under North Carolina law, meaning the state feels there is “no currently accepted medical use” but “a relatively low potential for abuse in terms of risk to public health.” That said, even the lowest level of marijuana possession still remains a misdemeanor criminal offense and possession of anything above 1.5 ounces is a felony offense! No matter whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony level offense, conviction for a charge of marijuana possession in NC can affect you for years.
There are several classifications of marijuana possession based on the amount of marijuana in your possession. However, most cases fall within these three classifications:
- Class 3 Misdemeanor – Possession of less than 0.5oz of marijuana. A conviction for this charge has a maximum fine of $200 and no possibility of jail time.
- Class 1 Misdemeanor – Possession of between 0.5oz and 1.5oz of marijuana. A conviction for this charge has a maximum fine of $1,000 and a maximum jail time of 120 days.
- Class I Felony – Possession of between 1.5oz and 10lbs of marijuana. A conviction for this charge has a maximum fine of $1,000 and a maximum jail time of 8 months.
How to Handle your Swain County Marijuana Possession Ticket
Goals for resolving a charge for marijuana possession can vary greatly from one case to another and there are different ways to try to achieve the best outcome for your specific case. Based on your criminal record and history with drug charges, there may be a way to reduce or dismiss the charge. Often, this requires completion of a combination of drug education courses, community service, counseling, and even probation. In some instances, depending on the charge and the county in which the offense occurred, you will need to appear in court alongside your attorney.
In some instances, the facts of your case may lead your attorney to believe that pursuing a trial would be the best way to obtain a beneficial outcome. Many times this involves a circumstance where there are issues with how you received your charge, meaning the stop and search, or that the State lacks required evidence. These factors, among others, would mean that seeking a trial may provide greater relief. That said, taking a marijuana possession case to trial and winning is less common than seeking a negotiated resolution, but it is sometimes the best option for your case. If the officer did not have a valid reason to stop or search you, if the officer did not have your consent for the search, if the officer exceeded the scope of your consent, or if the officer cannot prove you were in possession of the drugs, you should inform your attorney, as these aspects are important to the legitimacy of the State’s case against you.
In general, we try to negotiate one of three possible positive outcomes if your case is not brought to trial. Some cases will not allow for these outcomes, however. If you have had prior drug charges or convictions, it is very important to provide that information to your attorney as soon as possible, as prior charges may take the options below off the table.
Voluntary Dismissal (VD):
In rare cases, the Court will completely dismiss a marijuana possession case. If this outcome is offered by the District Attorney, it is usually for a defendant with no prior drug charges and a clean criminal record. Obtaining a voluntary dismissal of a marijuana possession charge will likely involve, at the very least, the completion of community service or a drug education course.
Deferred Dismissal (DD):
More commonly, the Court will allow for a dismissal of a defendant’s first marijuana possession charge after a specified period of time if certain conditions are met. Normally, these conditions include receiving no further criminal charges during a specified time period (usually 6-12 months) as well as some combination of a drug education course, counseling, and community service.
90-96 Conditional Discharge:
Although the terms Deferred Dismissal and 90-96 Conditional Discharge are often used interchangeably, proceeding through an actual 90-96 discharge process is much more formal. Often, your case will be referred to the NC State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) for eligibility review, you will then be required to enter a plea of guilty in front of a Judge on the condition that the charge will be dismissed after you have complied with certain requirements. These requirements are very similar to those for a deferred dismissal, including no further criminal charges during a 12 month period and some combination of drug education, counseling, and community service.
Swain County Marijuana Possession Defense Attorneys
If you have received a ticket for marijuana possession in Swain County, reach out to our office for a free consultation. Our attorneys are well-versed in marijuana defense and can work with you to navigate the legal process involved with various levels of marijuana possession, employing aggressive and effective defense strategies in an attempt to obtain the best possible outcome.
*Each case is different and must be evaluated individually. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome can be achieved in your case.