Every year, thousands of Pennsylvanians – younger people for the most part — are charged with possession of marijuana. Many of these young people are under the impression that drug laws have been relaxed, and they can smoke a joint in public without getting into too much trouble.
They are wrong. Pennsylvania drug crime law has always been strict, and it remains so. It is a crime here to possess any illegal or controlled substance – this includes marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, hallucinogens, opioids and other drugs.
All a prosecutor has to do to ruin your life is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the drug in your possession and that you knew what it was.
The task facing your defense attorney is more complicated. Your case must be assessed from top to bottom, looking for holes in the prosecution’s presentation.
These are the most common marijuana possession defenses:
- There is doubt that the drug you are charged with possessing really is marijuana. Arrests do occur in which the drug that is seized is not illegal, or even a drug. You cannot be charged with possessing marijuana unless you do in fact possess some.
- Mistaken identity – did the joint found in the car belong to you, or to another occupant of the vehicle?
- There was marijuana, but you had no idea it was there. It belonged to a friend. Knowledge is essential to proving this kind of case. If you were unwitting, you are innocent.
- The marijuana was planted on you. It’s not easy to prove you were entrapped by law enforcement, but it does happen.
- There was marijuana, but you had no control over it. You control the drug when it is in your possession, or within easy access or reach. Unless you control the drug, you cannot possess it.
- You didn‘t have enough of the drug to be a crime. The law stipulates how much of the drug you must have for you to commit a crime.
- You have a prescription. Pennsylvania does allow people with severe medical conditions to possess marijuana. You will need a permit and a note from your doctor.
There are many other defenses for possession charges. Choose a lawyer who is familiar with them.