Marijuana: A Minor Crime That Can Be a Big Deal

Many people believe that possession of marijuana is "no big deal."  The recent passage of the Medical Marijuana Act, allowing those with a doctor's prescription to possess marijuana for personal use, has led some people to assume that being caught with pot will not have a negative impact on their lives.  This is not true; conviction of any crime can mean problems for you, including significant cash costs and even possible jail time.

Generally speaking, the courts in Arizona look on possession of marijuana for personal use differently than they do possession of large amounts of the drug for illegal sale or possession of dangerous narcotics or methamphetamines.  However, although possession of marijuana may be a relatively minor crime, it is still a charge you should take seriously as the consequences of a conviction can be unpleasant.

Drug Classifications in Arizona

Arizona classifies drugs into three basic categories:  dangerous drugs, narcotics and marijuana.  Possession of dangerous drugs such as methamphetamines and LSD constitutes a Class 1 misdemeanor.  Possession of narcotics such as cocaine or heroin constitutes a Class 5 Felony, while possession of marijuana is charged based on the amount in the person's possession.  Less than two pounds is often considered a misdemeanor, but can be a felony in some cases.  More than four pounds is almost always charged as a felony.  Fines range from $750 to $150,000, and other penalties such as prison time and mandated counseling may also be given to offenders.

Unlike some states, Arizona has not "decriminalized" marijuana possession.  This means that if you are caught with pot, you will be charged with a crime rather than just given a fine.

What Is Deferred Prosecution?

Deferred prosecution is available in some cases involving marijuana possession.  Because of prison overcrowding, some jurisdictions are allowing first-time offenders to defer prosecution of their crime if they successfully complete a probationary period.  If so, the offender is not charged.

Not every marijuana possession case is eligible for deferred prosecution.  However, with the help of a criminal defense attorney like Alex Lane, you may be able to avoid prosecution of the charges and keep your record clean.

If you are charged with possession of any amount of marijuana, it is important that you take the charge seriously.  Alex Lane is ready to discuss your case with you and help you decide on the best way to defend yourself from the charges.

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