Here are a few handy tips for avoiding marijuana or drug paraphernalia charges:
- Don’t carry marijuana or drug paraphernalia in your car or in your pocket.
- Don’t take marijuana or drug paraphernalia with you when you travel.
- If you smoke marijuana at home, take a shower and change clothes before leaving home. If a cop pulls you over and smells weed on you, that gives him probable cause to search your vehicle.
- Don’t smoke in a parked car at night with your friends. When police ask you to roll down the car window and marijuana smoke billows out (remember that scene in the Cheech & Chong movie?), it gives police probable cause to search your vehicle – without a warrant and without your consent.
- Don’t smoke weed while sitting in your car in the parking lot at the Verizon Center in Maryland Heights before attending a concert. This is pretty specific, but it applies to any parking lot at any concert venue. Lots of plain clothes police officers patrol parking lots outside concerts.
- If you’re high or feeling buzzed, don’t drive. You’re a danger to yourself and others on the road, and you risk being charged with DUID (driving while under the influence of drugs).
All Passengers in the Car May be Charged with Possession of Marijuana
When a police officer finds a marijuana blunt in the console of your car, a one-hitter hidden under the seat, or a small baggie of weed in your car, you and all the passengers in your car may be issued tickets for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. This may happen even if one hero tries to accept sole responsibility for the drugs.
The reason for this is something called “constructive possession.” The court presumes everyone in the car knew the drugs were there and everyone had access to the drugs, so everyone was in “constructive possession” of the drugs or paraphernalia.
What is the Penalty for Marijuana Possession in Missouri?
The maximum sentence you can receive in Missouri for misdemeanor possession of marijuana (35 grams or less) or possession of drug paraphernalia is a fine of $1,000 and 1 year in jail.
You Can Lose Your Driver’s License if Caught with Marijuana in Your Car
If you are under age 21 and you get caught with marijuana in your car, you can be charged under Missouri’s “Abuse & Lose” law. If you plead guilty or are convicted under “Abuse & Lose,” your driver’s license will be suspended for anywhere from 30 days to 1 year. The length of the suspension depends on whether your case is being prosecuted in municipal court or state circuit court, and it also depends on whether or not this is your first offense.
Drug-Related Convictions Can Not be Expunged From Your Criminal Record
What’s worse than being fined or thrown in jail is that a conviction for possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia stays on your criminal record forever and can never be “expunged” (removed). With a drug-related conviction on your permanent criminal record, you will have a very hard time finding a job, renting an apartment, or getting a bank loan or federal student aid loan.
An Attorney Can Help You Avoid a Marijuana Possession Conviction
In most cases, an experienced marijuana possession attorney can help you avoid a conviction for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. The outcome depends on the following:
- Which court your case is being prosecuted in. (Not all courts handle drug cases the same way.)
- Your age & criminal history. (Do you have prior drug-related convictions?)
- The details of your particular case. (Were you cooperative with the police?)
Often, an experienced attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the court so that your drug possession charge is dismissed or amended to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.” If your attorney is able to obtain this type of plea bargain deal, you may not have to appear in court at all.
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri and would like a free consultation with a drug possession lawyer, call St. Louis attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at [email protected] to discuss your case and receive a price quote for legal representation.