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Possession of Marijuana

Marijuana is a natural product that is derived from a plant. Most people who use it suffer no serious health effects and, in fact, studies  have shown it can have medical purposes. Yet, in Pennsylvania, you can spend time in jail under both state and federal law for even possessing pot or weed. And the more you are convicted of possessing, the more jail time you face.

Philadelphia Marijuana Possession Lawyer

Whether you face felony or misdemeanor possession charges, an experienced Philadelphia marijuana possession lawyer can help you fight the charges. At Alva Foster & Moscow, LLC, we will stand up for your rights. We can challenge the police procedures used to obtain their evidence, seeking to have evidence thrown out and leading to your charges being reduced or dismissed. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to set up a consultation.

We represent those facing possession charges throughout the Philadelphia area, including Bucks County and Delaware County.

Overview of Cannabis Possession Charges

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Defining Marijuana Possession in Pennsylvania

It is illegal to have marijuana in your possession. This can consist of any part of the plant, including resin, seeds and buds, and can include compounds or mixtures that contain any detectable amount of cannabis.

"Possession" can mean actual possession, meaning you have on your person  — for instance, in your pocket. It can also mean the marijuana is alleged to have been found in any place where you have exclusive control. For instance, if the pot is in the glove compartment of your car, in a drawer in your home, or in your suitcase, prosecutors may say you were in possession. This is called "constructive possession."

It is not a defense in Pennsylvania that the weed was medical marijuana, even if it was recommended by a doctor and even if it was acquired in a legal medical marijuana state.

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Punishment for Pennsylvania Cannabis Possession

Marijuana, under both federal law and the law of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a Schedule I drug, which means the government considers it a drug with no accepted medical use and the highest potential for abuse.

Most possession charges are under state law, but federal law also prohibits possession. You could be charged if, for example, you are arrested in a federal facility. Federal law makes most marijuana possession a misdemeanor. For a first offense, you could be sentenced to up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. For a second offense, the maximum prison time is the same, but there is also a mandatory 15-day minimum and a $2,500 fine. For any subsequent offense, the minimum goes up to 90 days and the fine doubles.

Under Pennsylvania law, possession of 30 grams or less can lead to jail time of up to 30 days and a fine of $500. More, if only charged for simple possession and not intent to distribute or trafficking charges, could lead to up to a year and a $5,000 fine.

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Marijuana Possession in Philadelphia

Marijuana possession is different in Philadelphia because of local laws. It now is considered a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense. In Philadelphia, people who are caught possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana will be cited and fined $25.

If a person is caught smoking marijuana in public, he or she will be cited and fined $100, or made to perform nine hours of community service. This still is considered a civil offense. Additionally, police officers will confiscate any of the substance they find, but the offenders will have the benefit of not having a criminal record.

The substance still is considered illegal in Philadelphia. This means possessing more than 30 grams and dealing or trafficking the substance regardless of weight still is considered a criminal offense, which could mean a criminal record.

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Diversion Program in Philadelphia

For most people charged with possession of marijuana for the first time, a diversion program is available in Philadelphia. Under the diversion program, you go on probation. If you complete your probation, the charges are dismissed. The district attorney has the discretion of whether to accept defendants into the program.

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Defenses to Pennsylvania Possession Charges

In a criminal case, like marijuana possession, the prosecution must prove all elements of their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense does not have to prove anything at all, but your Philadelphia marijuana defense lawyer can show to the jury that reasonable doubt exists. For instance, in a constructive possession case, the defense might be able to show that another person had access to the space where the marijuana was located.

In most possession cases, the marijuana itself is the primary evidence. The evidence was often acquired through a pat-down or a search. Police must follow strict guidelines and procedures to be able to conduct these actions.

If the defense lawyer can prove they failed to follow the procedures, or lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion, the evidence might be thrown out, leaving prosecutors with little evidence. Your charges might be dismissed or reduced.

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Finding the Best Philadelphia Attorney for Possession of Marijuana Charges

Marijuana may be relatively harmless, but the punishments you can receive for its mere possession can be very damaging. The tough, aggressive Philadelphia marijuana possession lawyers at Alva Foster & Moscow, LLC can help you fight your possession charges. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to schedule a consultation if you were arrested for marijuana possession anywhere in the Philadelphia area, including Montgomery and Chester County.