How To Keep Possession Of Marijuana Charges Off Your Criminal Record

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Keep possession of marijuana charges off your criminal record by hiring an attorney to get them dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.

Missouri Marijuana Penalties Can Include Jail Time

The maximum penalties for misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance (marijuana) or drug paraphernalia in Missouri are:

  • 10 Grams or Less of Marijuana (first-time offender) = $500 fine but no jail time
  • 10 Grams or Less of Marijuana (not a first-time offender) = $2,000 fine and 1 year in jail
  • Drug Paraphernalia (first-time offender) = $500 fine but no jail time
  • Drug Paraphernalia (not a first-time offender) = $2,000 fine and 1 year in jail
  • 11 to 35 grams of Marijuana= $2,000 fine and 1 year in jail

If you plead guilty to any of the criminal offenses listed above, you will have a drug conviction on your criminal record, regardless of whether your case is prosecuted in state court or municipal court. This is true even if you are a first-time offender charged with a crime for which there is no possibility of jail time.

Missouri’s law regarding possession of a controlled substance is RSMO 579.015

Missouri’s law regarding unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia is RSMO 579.074

For more information about Missouri’s marijuana laws, you can read my previous blog post, “Marijuana Has Not Been Decriminalized in Missouri.”

How Long Does Possession Of Marijuana Stay On Your Criminal Record?

If you plead guilty to possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, the conviction will stay on your criminal record forever unless you get it expunged.

Missouri’s new expungement law that went into effect January 1, 2018 provides people with the opportunity to expunge misdemeanor marijuana and drug paraphernalia convictions. You must have a clean record for 3 years before filing the petition for expungement, and there is a lifetime limit of 2 misdemeanors that you can get expunged.

I discussed Missouri’s new expungement law in my previous blog post “Missouri’s New Expungement Law Allows Many Misdemeanor & Felony Criminal Records To Be Sealed.”

Why You Should Not Plead Guilty To Possession Of Marijuana

Even if you were caught with just a pipe or a very small amount of pot, you will have a drug conviction on your permanent criminal record if you plead guilty.

Having a conviction for misdemeanor marijuana or drug paraphernalia can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, getting a scholarship, or obtaining federal student aid. Drug convictions can also cause you to be evicted from government subsidized housing.

An Attorney Can Get Your Marijuana & Drug Paraphernalia Charges Dismissed Or Reduced To A Less Serious Offense

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, here are your options:

  • Go to court on your own without an attorney and plead guilty (not recommended)
  • Go to court and plead not guilty and have a trial (expensive, and you risk being convicted)
  • Go to court and ask the judge for a continuance of the court date (this gives you more time to hire an attorney)
  • Hire an attorney to get your drug charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering”

Pleading guilty to possession of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia is a bad idea because you will end up with a drug conviction on your permanent criminal record.

Going to trial for drug possession is risky and expensive, and you lose the opportunity to get a favorable plea bargain deal.

Having an experienced attorney represent you is your best option if you want to avoid having a drug conviction on your criminal record. Your attorney will advocate for you and negotiate the best possible plea bargain deal for you.

The outcome of your case depends on many factors, but your attorney may be able to get your charges completely dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense, such as “Littering.”

What To Do If You Can’t Afford An Attorney To Represent You For Your Marijuana Ticket

In most counties in Missouri, public defenders do not represent people charged with misdemeanor marijuana or drug paraphernalia in municipal court.

If your marijuana or drug paraphernalia case is being prosecuted in state court instead of municipal court and you can’t afford to hire a private attorney, you can contact the Missouri public defender’s office in the county in which you were charged to see if you qualify for a public defender.

You will have to fill out an application and provide proof of your finances before the public defender’s office will consider representing you. If someone paid your bond for you, or if you have any assets, the public defender may refuse to represent you. You could also go to court and ask the judge to appoint an attorney to represent you, but that option is not available in all courts.

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For a free consultation about your Missouri marijuana or drug paraphernalia ticket, contact criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at [email protected]

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