New York Penal Code § 221.20: Criminal possession of marihuana in the third degree

Many people feel that marihuana use should be legal, not just for medicinal purposes, but also for recreational purposes. For this reason oftentimes when people are arrested for marihuana possession they do not believe it is a big deal. While it is true that the law regards marihuana possession as a less serious offense compared to possession of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, if you are arrested for marihuana possession you should still take it very seriously particularly if you have more than a small amount. Under New York Penal Code § 221.20 it is illegal to possess more than 8 ounces of marihuana. In order to convict you of criminal possession of marihuana in the third degree, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  1. that you possessed one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana,
  2. that you did so knowingly and unlawfully, and
  3. that the substance weighed 8 ounces or more.

It is a felony.

Example

After a man was arrested for assault the police searched him and found a baggie that contained 10 ounces of marihuana. The man could be prosecuted for criminal possession of marihuana in the third degree.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal sale of marihuana in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 221.45
  2. Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 220.16
  3. Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 220.39
Defenses

If you are charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the third degree you may be able to challenge the charge based on the actual weight of the marihuana. If the weight was less than 8 ounces then a charge of criminal sale of marihuana in the third degree would not be appropriate.

Another way to respond to the charge is to challenge the search that uncovered the marihuana as unlawful. There are rules that the police must follow in order to search someone's home or someone's person. If the police do not follow such rules a court may find that the search was unlawful. If that happens the prosecutor may have no choice but to dismiss the case against you.

Sentence

Because criminal possession of marihuana is a class E felony, if you are convicted the maximum possible prison sentence that you will receive is 4 years. Your sentence could also include a fine as well as a probation term of 5 years. In determining your sentence the judge will consider the crime committed, the details of the crime, your personal background, and your criminal history. If you are a first time offender your sentence will be less severe than if you have a prior criminal history.

New York Penal Code § 221.20: Criminal possession of marihuana in the third degree

A person is guilty of criminal possession of marihuana in the third degree when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana and the preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances are of an aggregate weight of more than eight ounces.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

While possessing marihuana for your own personal use may seem like a minor offense, you could end up spending a significant amount of time in prison if convicted of a marihuana possession crime. Because of the potential consequences, you should immediately contact an attorney who has experience defending those accused of marihuana possession. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been accused of marijuana possession, marijuana distribution, as well as other drug crimes. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of drug crimes in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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