Criminal and Unlawful Marijuana Possession charges in Westchester and Putnam Criminal Courts
Marijuana is still illegal in New York State.
In fact, Westchester Criminal Courts and Putnam County Criminal Courts still see quite a few marijuana possession arrests. Unless you are talking about quite large quantities, most of the marijuana cases in criminal courts in Westchester and Putnam are misdemeanor or even sometimes non-criminal versions of marijuana charges. Unlawful possession of marijuana, Penal Law Section 221.05, is a "non-criminal" offense, meaning that conviction for unlawful possession of marijuana can't give you a criminal record.
Non-Criminal vs. Illegal - Unlawful possession vs. criminal possession
How can something be non-criminal and still illegal? Didn't this article begin with the idea that marijuana is still illegal? The answer is that things can be against the law (illegal) but not criminal. It is against the law to park in a bus stop. You can get a hefty ticket for parking at a bus stop. But you can't get a criminal conviction for parking at a bus stop. Therefore, there are some offenses that are things we aren't supposed to do, and things we may even get punished for with fines, but they don't give you a criminal record. So it is with small amounts of marijuana not burning in public in open view. You can still get a ticket, you can even be sent to one of the local criminal courts, and you might be required to pay a fine, but what you can't get is a criminal record.
Criminal Possession of Marijuana
On the other hand, if you are accused of possession of even a small amount of marijuana that is burning and in public, then you are likely charged with Criminal Possession of Marijuana in the Fourth Degree, a class B misdemeanor in New York. People are often horrified to discover that they are arrested when simply with a group of people who are smoking marijuana. We have seen cases where five or six young people have been arrested for possession of the same single marijuana cigarette.
Possible Settlements of Marijuana Cases in Westchester and Putnam Counties
It is often the case that marijuana cases can be settled in Westchester and Putnam criminal courts in ways that will leave you without a criminal record or with the need to serve a jail sentence. Obviously with unlawful possession of marijuana charges it is impossible to get a criminal record, but with criminal possession of marijuana common settlements that may be arranged through your criminal defense lawyer include settlements to "disorderly conduct" or adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (ACDs).
If a case is settled with a disorderly conduct, that would mean that the criminal possession of marijuana charge would be dismissed, and replaced for purposes of settlement with a new charge called "disorderly conduct". The person settling the case is expected to plead guilty to this added charge in exchange for some agreed settlement, which could be a fine or community service or even both. The benefit to this settlement is that disorderly conduct is not a crime and does not leave the accused with a criminal record.
If a case is settled with an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal, that means that the case is put off for a year (there is a special type of ACD that covers marijuana cases that lasts 1 year and is longer than a "standard" ACD which lasts 6 months). If the accused stays out of trouble for the adjournment period, then the case is dismissed and sealed. This is obviously a fantastic result and therefore the ACD is a highly sought after result in many cases (although there are some situations where an ACD can create problems - check with a lawyer). The ACD can require community service or participation in counseling or both.
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