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Marijuana Possession: Will the Judge Let Me off the Hook for My First Offense?

Judges are not generally under any obligation to go easy on misdemeanor or felony defendants; however, there may be several mitigating circumstances that they may consider when presiding over a criminal case, particularly when the case is related to first-time marijuana possession offense.

How Jurisdictions Can Play a Part in Marijuana Possession Cases

Marijuana Possession Will the Judge Let Me off the Hook for My First OffenseSociety’s attitudes towards marijuana in some jurisdictions within the United States have changed significantly in the 21st century. Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington are among the states that have shown more legal leniency towards personal marijuana use in terms of criminal justice. This does not mean that these states have completely decriminalized the use of cannabis, but a first-time possession case would not likely be handled under the full weight of the law.

There’s also the issue of prison overcrowding to consider in jurisdictions such as California. A judge in the criminal division may not want to have a first-time marijuana offender taking up cell space in a state jail when he or she could be working, going to school or providing community service instead.

Levels of Possession and Punishment

Judges are more likely to go easier on defendants whose offenses range near the bottom of the criminal justice range. For example, someone who is arrested for possession under two ounces in Texas may be prosecuted as a Class B misdemeanor defendant. According to the Texas Penal Code, being convicted at this level may call for a jail sentence no longer than six months and a fine up to $2,000. However, it is not common for a Texas judge to “throw the book” in a Class B misdemeanor case.

In a first-time marijuana possession case, judges are bound to consider the following factors:

  • The overall conduct of the defendant
  • The circumstances that lead to the arrest
  • The prior criminal record of the defendant

The Judges Decision

Whenever prosecutors bring a new criminal case to the courtroom, the judge will question the nature of the offense and the context of the arrest. If, for example, the arrest emanated from law enforcement agents being tipped by an unproductive informant, the case may be seen as frivolous. On the other hand, if there is evidence of violence, injury or damage to property, the judge may be reluctant to go easy on the defendant.

Judges will also hear recommendations made by the prosecution and may take them into consideration when it comes time to issue a ruling or dictate the sentence. Defendants who enter a guilty plea in a first-time marijuana possession case and thus avoid a lengthy trial at the cost of taxpayers may be seen more favorably by judges; nonetheless, any type of plea should only be entered after a criminal defense attorney has approved of it.

Get Professional Legal Help

The best way to get the judge to go easy on you is to hire a criminal defense attorney. He understands how the judge thinks and can develop a defense strategy to align with the judge’s needs. Reach out to Matthew Sharp to have your case reviewed. Just call 713-868-6100.

*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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