Getting caught with pot in New York is still a serious issue

Getting caught with pot in New York is still a serious issue

Over the last few years there has been a huge shift in the way society views marijuana. Several states have legalized the use of recreational pot, and others are considering doing the same. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans now favor marijuana legalization.

New Yorkers, however, should be careful not to let these changing attitudes fool them into believing that state law enforcement isn't interested in prosecuting marijuana offenses. In truth, possessing or selling marijuana in New York is still considered a serious crime and can carry harsh penalties.

You can go to jail for marijuana

Under New York law, getting caught with anything more than 25 grams of marijuana (that's less than an ounce) has the potential to result in a jail sentence. This is true even if the pot is for your own personal use. If you're caught with a half-pound or more, that's considered a felony and you could be sent to prison for four years or more.

The penalties for selling marijuana are even stricter. The sale of any amount - even a couple grams - can send a person to jail. When the amount reaches 25 grams, selling pot becomes a felony, and with it comes the possibility of spending several years in prison.

A marijuana conviction can seriously disrupt your life

Even if jail or prison time is avoided, getting convicted for a marijuana offense can seriously disrupt your life. As with other crimes, a marijuana conviction often goes on a person's criminal record. Depending on the industry, this can make it anywhere from difficult to nearly impossible to secure a good job or a professional license.

Drug convictions can also impact later court proceedings. For example, they might be used to establish a prior criminal record after a subsequent arrest, or they might be used to question fitness to parent in a child custody case.

If you're arrested, you need an attorney

Many people mistakenly believe that they should try and save money by handling drug arrests without an attorney. In reality, this is one of the most dangerous things you can do after an arrest.

The truth is that most people do not have anywhere close to the depth of knowledge and experience it takes to defend against any criminal charge. For example, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will be well-versed in the Constitution and can examine the circumstances of the investigation and arrest to challenge any violations of the defendant's rights. In addition, a lawyer may be able to negotiate for reduced penalties or to keep the charge off the defendant's criminal record.

If you or loved one is facing drug charges in New York state, attorney George F. Hildebrandt can help you take action to defend your rights and protect your future.

Keywords: marijuana, marijuana penalties, drug crimes