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NY Penal Law § 221.15: Criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree

Criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree is one of 2 misdemeanor possession of marihuana charges in the New York. According to New York Penal Code § 221.15 you will be prosecuted for fourth degree criminal possession of marihuana if:

  1. you possessed marihuana,
  2. you did so knowingly and unlawfully, and
  3. the marihuana weighed more than two ounces.

It is important to note understand 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 marihuana the assumption will be that you and anyone else nearby are in possession of that marihuana.


The police spotted a car that was moving erratically- drifting from lane to lane at a very slow rate. The officer suspected that the driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The officer pulled the car over. Upon searching the vehicle the officer found a baggie of marihuana in the car's glove compartment. The police lab determined that the marihuana weighed 7 ounces. The driver could be prosecuted for criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree based on the amount of marihuana found in the vehicle.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal sale of marihuana in the fourth degree: New York Penal Code § 221.40
  2. Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the possession degree: New York Penal Code § 220.21
  3. Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 220.31

If you are charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree you may be able to challenge the charge based on the actual weight of the marihuana. If the weight was less than 2 ounces then the prosecutor could not sustain a charge of criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth second degree.

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 dismiss the case against you.


Because criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor if convicted you could be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail. However, your sentence may also include a probation term of 3 years. If you are placed on probation there will be several rules that you will be required to follow, including regularly reporting to your probation officer. If you fail to follow the rules your probation may be revoked and you may be sent to jail.

In determining your actual sentence the judge will consider several factors including 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 criminal history.

New York Penal Code § 221.15: Criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree

A person is guilty of criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth 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 two ounces.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

While criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor, you should still take the charge seriously. A conviction may result in you having to spend time in prison, a fine, and a long probation term. However, just because you were arrested for possession marihuana does not mean that you will be convicted as there may be defenses that may 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 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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