Coping With Criminal Charges
Under federal law, possession of any amount of marijuana can result in fines and jail time. A first offense is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail. A second offense can get you a mandatory 15-day sentence that can be extended up to two years. After that, 90 days to three years of jail time and a $5,000 fine is the punishment you can expect for possessing marijuana. So it’s in your best interest to hire a lawyer to represent you in your possession case to help ensure that you receive minimal jail time from the judge. There are a few things you can do to support your defense and ensure that you don’t end up back in court for possession later down the line – consider the following methods and techniques:
Go to Regular Meetings
An excellent way to prove to the court that you’re serious about staying clean and out of trouble is to start attending recovery meetings of some kind on a regular basis. Don’t wait until the last minute to start getting involved. It’s a good idea to attend meetings at least once a week during the weeks leading up to your court date, so your lawyer and the court know you’re serious about your participation. Narcotics Anonymous is helpful, but it isn’t the only type of recovery program you can get involved with. A couple of other groups that may meet your needs include:
Secular Organizations for Sobriety – uses a science-based self empowerment system to achieve and maintain abstinence.
SMART Recovery – incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy and self-directed skill building techniques to help cope with urges and optimize chances of long-term sobriety success.
You can also find a variety of online group meetings to attend, some of which are offered by the resources listed here. It’s important to have your meeting facilitators document your participation by signing off on the dates and times that you attend meetings. You can ask your lawyer for a form to have your facilitator fill out. If you choose to attend online meetings just scan the form, upload it to your computer, and email it to your facilitators.
Volunteer Within Your Community
Volunteering can help you stay grounded, learn the importance of responsibility, develop new friendships in the community, and make you feel good about how you’re spending your free time. You can also expect to learn about time management and new ways to handle your emotions which are both critical skills you can use to stay sober and away from marijuana. And your volunteer sessions can lead to an expanded support system as well as the opportunity to create relationships with positive role models within your community.
By volunteering at a community center, a rehabilitation facility, a church, a homeless shelter, or even a school, you will give your lawyer and the court some confidence in knowing that you want to improve your life and give back to your community, which are both attributes that will minimize the chance that they’ll see you back in court for another marijuana possession charge in the future. Choose a volunteer opportunity that you think you’ll enjoy long term so the process feels more like a pleasure than a chore. And like with any meetings you attend, it’s crucial to have your volunteer supervisors document the dates, times, and tasks associated with each volunteer session you attend.
By taking the steps outlined here, you should be able to prove to the court that you’re serious about making changes in your life that will keep you out of trouble in the future. And you’ll help make your lawyer’s job easier which may save you some money on legal fees when all is said and done. For more information, contact a marijuana defense attorney like Russ Jones Attorney At Law.
If you are charged with a drug-related offense, you will likely want to hire a lawyer to defend you. While many people think a lawyer’s job is to prove your innocence, you may wonder what your lawyer will do if you are guilty of a charge. If you decide to plead guilty or it is obvious to your lawyer that you will be found guilty, there are still several ways that your lawyer can help you.
Negotiate Plea Bargains
Your lawyer will likely work to negotiate a plea bargain for you that can reduce your charges, reduce your sentencing, or get rid of your charges completely. An experienced lawyer will know which prosecutors have the ability to offer plea bargains and will know how to negotiate a fair plea bargain for you. They may also help you determine the reality of what you will be offered and encourage you to take the best deal possible instead of holding out for a less realistic plea bargain.
Propose Rehabilitation Before Prison Time
In some states, your lawyer may be able to propose to the sentencing judge that you serve part of your prison sentence in an in-patient rehabilitation center. For example, if you were sentenced to a year in prison, they may argue that you spend 4 months in rehabilitation before serving your prison sentence. This may count towards your prison time in some states or may simply delay your prison time in other states. However, successful drug rehabilitation may make it easier for you to serve your prison time.
Argue for Probation Instead of Prison Time
In some cases, your lawyer may be able to argue for probation instead of prison time. For example, if it is your first offense and you are a full-time student or have a full-time job, your lawyer may be able to argue that it would be more beneficial for society for you to continue your classes or your work. In these cases, you may be granted house arrest, meaning you have to stay in your home when you are not at work or school, or weekend jail time, meaning you serve your sentence on the weekends but go to your job or school during the weekdays. During this period you may have several strict rules placed on your behavior, and you will likely have to submit to regular drug testing.
May Get You Into a Diversion Program
Diversion programs are gaining popularity in many states. Diversion programs often involve a mix of probation, rehabilitation, job skills training, and community service. If you are accepted into a diversion program, and you follow the entire program until the end, then the case will be dropped. This means that you will not have been found guilty on your criminal record. However, if you fail to complete the program, your original sentence (usually jail time) will most likely be implemented immediately, without a second trial, and the offense will be put on your record.
Address Options to Keep Your Record Clean
If you are found guilty of a drug-related offense, your criminal record can prevent you from getting certain jobs. However, your lawyer can help you figure out whether you will be eligible to have your record expunged after a certain amount of time. Some states allow non-violent drug charges to be expunged and have special rules for youth under 21 regarding expunging records.
Even if you participate in a diversion program, your initial arrest may remain on your record. A drug defense attorney can help you get the initial arrest expunged after you successfully complete your diversion program, leaving you with a clean record.