In Queens and the rest of the New York area, there are very specific laws relating to possession of marijuana. Unlike in other states like Colorado, New York has laws that recognized marijuana as being a controlled substance, meaning there is a high risk that people will abuse it. As of 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans of allowing the limited use of medical marijuana, but only 20 hospitals in the state of New York would be legally allowed to prescribe it. The facilities were said to be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana to individuals with diseases such as cancer and glaucoma, but at the same time, it would be difficult to acquire.
As a result, the laws regarding marijuana in Queens and New York in general are complex. It’s important to know the laws and the possible consequences you might face if you are caught possessing marijuana.
How Can You Be Arrested for Possession of Marijuana in New York?
In Queens and the state of New York in general, there are two separate laws relating to marijuana offenses and drug possession. Generally, the elements of the offenses are often the same. In order for a person to be convicted of possession of marijuana, the prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
• The defendant was in possession of marijuana, which is considered a controlled substance
• The possession of the marijuana was unlawful. In other words, it does not apply to medical marijuana that was legally prescribed
• The individual knowingly possessed the marijuana
When a person is in possession of marijuana, the drug can be either physical or even what is known as “constructive.” That means the defendant had control over a person or place where the marijuana was uncovered. Constructive possession can be proven even if the individual is not present at the time when the marijuana is found.
What are the Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in New York?
There are a number of penalties for possession of marijuana in Queens and the rest of New York. Generally, the specific penalty a person may face depends on the amount of marijuana that is discovered and where it was found. The following penalties can be given to a person for possessing marijuana:
• If the individual possesses less than two ounces of marijuana in a non-public place, it is considered unlawful possession of marijuana. The penalty for this crime is a maximum fine of $100 for a first offense. For a second offense, the fine is up to $200 and a third offense can see the individual fined a maximum of $250 and jailed for 15 days.
• Possessing less than two ounces of marijuana in a public place is considered criminal possession of marijuana in the fifth degree. It is a class B misdemeanor, which can result in three months of jail time.
• If a person possesses two or more ounces of marijuana or a drug combination that includes marijuana, it’s considered criminal possession of marijuana in the fourth degree. The individual is charged with a class A misdemeanor and can serve one year in jail.
• For possession of marijuana that is eight or more ounces or a mixture including marijuana, the individual is charged with criminal possession of marijuana in the third degree. This is a class E felony that includes one to one and a half years in prison. For a second offense, the individual can face two years in prison and if the person is a previous violent offender, they can serve two and a half years in prison.
• For possessing 16 or more ounces of marijuana or a combination of drugs that include it, you are charged with criminal possession of marijuana in the second degree, which is a class D felony. Penalties include one to two and a half years in prison. Second-time offenders can receive four years in prison and previous violent offenders can face four and a half years in prison.
• If the individual possesses 10 or more pounds of marijuana or a mixture containing it, that is considered criminal possession of marijuana in the first degree. It is a class C felony that carries one to five and a half years in prison. Second-time offenders may receive eight years in prison, while previous violent offenders can face up to nine years.
Possession of marijuana is a very serious criminal charge in Queens and New York in general. If you are arrested for this crime, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer immediately.