Avoiding a Criminal Defense Case with Marijuana in Philadelphia

The city of Philadelphia made efforts to lessen the impact of marijuana possession charges, particularly when people are found with small amounts of the drug. However, there are still potential consequences for possession of marijuana in the city and the surrounding counties. Even as both Pennsylvania and New Jersey both legalize medical marijuana, recreational use, though it typically doesn’t include jail time, is punishable by up to 30 days in jail.

In Pennsylvania, drug possession crimes aren’t included in the criminal code. Instead, they are found in the laws that fall under Health and Safety, giving the impression lawmakers view drug use as a health concern. However, police and prosecutors handle drug crimes in such a way in the state that implies lawmakers view drug usage as a more serious offense.

Possession of Marijuana in Philadelphia

The City of Philadelphia started the Small Amount of Marijuana (SAM) program to lessen the consequences of marijuana possession in the city. However, this doesn’t apply to all of Pennsylvania, despite the state legalizing medical marijuana. In the city, someone caught with under 30 grams, or one ounce, of marijuana are subject to a fine and community service hours. Once completed, the charge is moved for dismissal by the District Attorney with the potential for the charge being fully expunged.

In the event a defendant does not comply by not paying the fine, not completing all community service hours or both, there is still the potential to proceed with a motion to either suppress or trial in the Philadelphia Municipal Court. In fact, many attorneys have successfully entered their clients into the program and avoided a criminal record. While the charge typically does not come with jail time, it’s important to keep in mind that it is legally possible for there to be up to 30 days in jail applied to a charge. It is also important to know a conviction for a small amount of marijuana means an automatic six-month suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license, even when there was not a vehicle involved in the charge.

When charged with Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana, the ordinance that applies to the charge calls for a $25 fine for possession of under 30 grams (one ounce). If the defendant was smoking the substance when found by an officer, the fine increases to $100. While most of the time police officers won’t take the time to arrest someone and typically throw out the marijuana and issue a citation, it pays to have the right criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact our team today if you are facing charges for marijuana in Philadelphia.