New York Penal Code § 221.30: Criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree

Of the 6 possession of marihuana crimes in the New York Penal Code, criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree is the most serious and carries the harshest punishment. It is a felony. Under New York Penal Code § 221.30, you would face a charge of first degree criminal possession of marihuana if you:

  1. possessed one or more preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana,
  2. you did so knowingly and unlawfully, and
  3. the marihuana weighed 10 pounds or more.

Keep in mind that if you are in a vehicle that contains marihuana, under New York Penal code § 220.25 that would be enough evidence to show that you possessed the marihuana. The exception to this general rule is where the drugs are on the person of someone else in the vehicle. Similarly, if marihuana is in a room in open view, if you are in close proximity to the marijuana the assumption will be that you and anyone else nearby are in possession of that marihuana.

Example

In response to a report of a disturbance the police arrive at a woman's home. There was a strong smell of marijuana when the woman opened the door. The police noticed a few baggies of marihuana and a couple of marihuana cigarettes in plain sight. Upon a search of the woman's home a large box of marijuana was discovered in a closet. The woman was arrested. The police lab determined that the total weight of the marijuana found in the home was 12 pounds. The woman could be prosecuted for criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal sale of marihuana in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 221.55
  2. Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 220.21
  3. Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 220.43
Defenses

If you are charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree you may be able to challenge the charge based on the actual weight of the marihuana. If the weight was not more than 10 pounds the prosecutor would have no choice but to drop or reduce the charge against you.

Another way to respond to a criminal possession of marihuana charge is to argue that the search that uncovered the marihuana was unlawful. There are rules that the police must follow in order to search someone's person, home, car, office, or any other location. 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 drop the case against you.

Sentence

Because criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree is a class C felony, if you are convicted your possible sentence will be up to 15 years in prison. The minimum sentence that the judge will give you is either 3 1/2 or 7 years depending on whether or not you have a prior felony conviction. Following release from prison you may be required to serve a term of post-release supervision.

There are also financial consequences to being convicted for first degree criminal possession of marihuana. The judge may order you to pay a fine of up to $15,000 and there are mandatory fees that you will have to pay.

New York Penal Code § 221.30: Criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree

A person is guilty of criminal possession of marihuana in the first 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 ten pounds.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Possessing a substantial amount of marihuana is a serious felony. If you are convicted you could spend more than a decade behind bars, away from your family and friends. Furthermore, you will be required to pay a substantial fine and may have to serve a term of post-release supervision once you are released from prison. However, just because you are charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the first degree does not mean that you will be convicted as there may be defenses that will result in the charges being dropped or reduced. 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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