Compassionate Criminal Defense Attorney Serving the Fairfield County Area for Over 25 Years
Compassionate Criminal Defense Attorney Serving the Fairfield County Area for Over 25 Years

Simple Possession of Marijuana

Stamford Possession of Less than One-Half Ounce of Marijuana in Violation of C.G.S. Section 21a-279a

Ask any top Stamford criminal defense attorney and they will agree that they would advise every client to NEVER plead guilty to the infraction of possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana which is a noncriminal infraction. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is because no one really knows what the long term consequences of guilty pleas to these infractions for marijuana related offenses could have upon your future employment and life prospects. Many employers today require prospective employees to pass drug tests as a condition of employment. What kind of effect is a guilty plea to the infraction of marijuana possession going to have on your ability to get these kind of jobs? There are other effects that a guilty plea to this infraction will have upon your life which we will discuss at greater length below. The main thrust is although simply paying the fine and mailing in the ticket may seem like the easy way out it may have significant long term consequences. The second reason is by pleading NOT guilty you are almost certain to obtain a better result than you would by pleading guilty and you really have nothing to lose by trying to obtain a more favorable disposition. In most cases working with a Stamford criminal defense lawyer will result in having the charge dropped, reduced or in the worst case scenario using a drug education program to have the charge dismissed. So before you plead guilty and mail in that ticket be sure to contact a Stamford marijuana possession defense lawyer to review all your defense options and the consequences of pleading guilty.

The Associated Infraction of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Violation of C.G.S. Section 21a-267(d)

At the same time the Legislature decriminalized the possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana it also decriminalized the possession of drug paraphernalia that goes along with the possession of such a small quantity of marijuana. These types of items include rolling papers, bags, packages, pipes, screens, grinders, etc. The essential point to remember is that EVERYTHING that I am going to write in this page about NOT pleading guilty to the infraction of the possession of less than one half ounce of marijuana C.G.A. Section 21a-27a also applies to the infraction of possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of C.G.S. Section 21a-267(d). In many situations clients will be charged with both offenses as with the possession of marijuana usually comes some sort of paraphernalia. Ironically, it is the quantity of drugs found that drives the level of the paraphernalia charge. So if you had more than one-half ounce of marijuana the same exact type and amount of paraphernalia would become a misdemeanor possession offense instead of an infraction.

The Partial Decriminalization of Marijuana Possession and the Problems That It Created

Prior to 2011 Connecticut had some of the most tough and draconian drug laws in the United States. With the jails filled with nonviolent drug offenders and with large budget deficits the Legislature began the process of softening our State’s drug laws by decriminalizing the possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana. The Legislature was acting with the research and data showing that incarceration was not having any effect on the rates of drug use and distribution. Statistics demonstrated that treatment programs were more effective than incarceration at lowering rates of recidivism and drug dependency and less costly for the State. The reality was that the driving motivation behind the shift was to save money which was being spent to jail low level nonviolent drug offenders.

However, keep in mind this change did NOT legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. What the change in the law accomplished was changing the previous misdemeanor crime for possession which was punishable by up to a year in jail into an infraction that is punishable by only a fine much like a speeding ticket. Under the new law C.G.S. Section 21a-279a the new penalty for possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana is a fine of $150 for a first offense. Much like a speeding ticket when you mail it in and plead guilty it creates a record in Hartford. Insurance companies, employers and others are able to access this information and it has created a lot of problems since 2011 for unsuspecting citizens who have just imagined this was like a speeding ticket and just mailed in in. I have spoken with many people who have been denied jobs because background checks have shown a record of a guilty plea to possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana. Many have then had to go through the process of trying to reverse their guilty plea by filing motions to vacate the plea. It is much easier to solve the problem before you plead guilty. If you have been charged with this infraction call an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney today to go over your options.

Never Plead Guilty to a 21a-279a Marijuana Possession Ticket – Always Hire a Lawyer to Fight the Case

Ask any experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney and they will agree that is never a good idea to plead guilty to one of these 21a-279a possession of marijuana infraction tickets. The long term consequences on your future opportunities and prospects are just too uncertain to calculate. Upon mailing in this ‘ticket” your plea of guilty will be reported to the centralized infraction bureau in Hartford and to the DMV and will become a permanent record. As a result any potential employer or governmental agency conducting a criminal background check will be provided with the information that you had plead guilty to possession of marijuana and likely draw the inference that you are a drug user. This has resulted in many people already being denied jobs and this law is only 6 years old as of this writing. In addition potential landlords who are looking into your background will come across this information as well as insurance companies who may significantly raise your automobile insurance rates as a result or simply decline to issue you a policy. For those who may later consider pursuing a career in the financial industry where licensing or bonding is a requirement a record of a guilty plea to this infraction may spell a death sentence to your career aspirations. Before pleading guilty and mailing in one of these tickets call an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney for a free initial consultation and we will review all of your options.

Warning for Those Under the Age of 21 – a Guilty Plea to an Infraction of 21a-279a Will Result in a Mandatory 60 Day Suspension of Your Driver’s License

As if you did not need enough reasons why you should NEVER mail in a ticket for possession of marijuana in violation of C.G.S.A. Section 21a-279a and plead guilty – for those under the age of 21 doing so will trigger and automatic mandatory 60 day suspension of your driver’s license. This further punishment will leave you with an additional mark on your driving record that will also effect your future employment prospects. You would be disqualified from working in many occupations that you need to drive for. Your auto insurance rates will go up substantially over the coming years as a result of having a record for operation under suspension. NO ONE under the age of 21 should EVER mail in a 21a-279a ticket under any circumstances the consequences are too significant upon your future.

What Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do to Fight Your 21a-279a Possession of Marijuana Infraction Ticket?

The first thing you need to know about defending a 21a-279a or 21a-267(d) ticket is that they are afforded unique status among all other infractions and violations in the State of Connecticut. Pursuant to C.G.S. Section 51-164n(h) and 51-164n(i) these two infractions are the only two out the hundreds of infractions in our State in which the ordinary criminal standard of proof (guilt beyond a reasonable doubt) does NOT apply. Instead the legislature wisely foresaw that many individuals charged with this infraction would hire lawyers to defend them so in order to avoid clogging the Court system with hundreds of trials for infraction simple possession of marijuana cases the Legislature lowered the State’s burden of proof in these two infractions. So for these two infractions ONLY in our State they have a civil burden of proof - “the preponderance of the evidence.” This obviously makes it a lot easier for the State to get a conviction if you take one of these cases to trial so the defense plan has to work around this handicap.

In some instances hasty Police work can lead to illegal search and seizures in violation of your Constitutional rights. Remember always never answer any questions that the Police may ask you without having a lawyer present. Never give permission to the Police to search any purse, backpack or any hidden areas of your car. In the event that Police jump the gun and invade your Constitutionally protected privacy rights without following the proper procedures it may be possible to have the evidence (drugs) suppressed which would lead to a dismissal of the charges against you.

In many other cases we have represented individuals who were riding in one car with a group of others in which police found some marijuana. When no one wants to claim responsibility for the marijuana very often the Police will charge everyone in the vehicle with possession of marijuana. However, obviously this kind of “detective work” is not going to lead to a case that can stand up in court when the Police are alleging that 2 or 3 people were all the ones who were in possession of a small amount of marijuana. In these scenarios we can often fight the charges are obtain a dismissal on the basis that there is no proof of who was the actual possessor of the marijuana.

Luckily, most State’s Attorneys realize that this rather insignificant infraction can have a serious and lasting impact on a young person’s life so they are usually willing to listen to arguments of mitigation and work with defense counsel to reach a resolution of the charges that does not involve a guilty plea to either of these red letter infractions. In the event that negotiations are unable to achieve an alternative resolution such as community service or a charitable contribution for example there is always the drug education program which will lead to a dismissal of one of these infractions. Our approach is to always consider the drug education program as a last resort to resolving an infraction for simple possession of marijuana due to the significant amount of time investment needed to complete the program. However, it is our opinion that taking the drug education program and getting this infraction dismissed from your record is preferable to getting a permanent record of a guilty plea for either one of these simple marijuana possession infractions.

Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana 21a-279a Charged Along with Other More Serious Offenses

Very often Police will discover marijuana in a motor vehicle which has already been involved in other criminal activity. For example when making a DUI/DWI arrest Police will often find small amounts of marijuana. This scenario hold true for many other types of arrests. When police are conducting searches of individuals being arrested for criminal activity it is not uncommon for them to discover small amounts of marijuana upon the suspect. The important point to remember is to NOT mail in the 21a-279a possession of marijuana ticket. In some cases the Police will issue it to you on a separate ticket that you can mail in while the rest of your charges require an appearance at the Superior Court. Many clients decide to just mail in the marijuana possession ticket thinking it will help make it easier to resolve the other more serious criminal charges. Before you do anything speak with a Stamford drug crime defense lawyer to review all the options. In many situations you may discover that an experienced Stamford criminal defense attorney will be able to get a resolution of your criminal charges without any criminal record. That is why it is important to not mail in the 21a-2792 simple possession of marijuana ticket until you have spoken with an experienced marijuana lawyer serving Stamford.

Withdrawing Your Previously Entered Mail in Guilty Plea to 21a-279a Simple Possession of Marijuana

So you mailed in your ticket for 21a-279a possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana and now you wish that you hadn’t. Either you were just denied a job or perhaps you heard of a friend who was denied a job due to a record of a guilty plea to 21a-279s and now you did some internet research and you want to have your guilty plea vacated. Can it be done? Yes, depending on the circumstances. First is that it is much easier to have a guilty plea vacated within 4 (four) months of the original date that you plead guilty. After 4 months it becomes more complicated.

The goal is to first file to have the guilty plea vacated and the Court will restore the charge back on the docket where we can use the defense methods and strategies which I have discussed above to work to get the charge dismissed.

The probability or success rate on any particular motion to vacate a guilty plea comes down to the facts of the individual case. The most important factor being how long you have waited before deciding to take action to re-open and vacate the guilty plea. Call us for a free initial consultation and we will review all thee procedural and factual details of your specific case so that we can give you some idea of what the chances for success in getting the guilty plea vacated are. Contact an experienced Stamford marijuana possession defense lawyer today to review your options.

Let Us Fight Your Simple Possession of Marijuana C.G.A. Section 21a-279a Case!

Although these are relatively minor infraction level offenses we have seen that a guilty plea can have significant lifelong consequences. In every case we can get you a better result than if you just mail in that ticket and pay the fine. In most cases we can get the charges dismissed even if that means using a drug education program to do so. So before you take any action on your ticket for simple possession of marijuana in violation of 21a-279a or 21a-267(d) you should immediately contact the Stamford marijuana defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman. We always offer a free initial consultation. We have 25 years of experience defending drug crimes throughout the State of Connecticut.

If you have been arrested for simple possession of marijuana in violation of C.G.S. Section 21a-279a or possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of C.G.S. Section 21a-267(d) in Darien, Greenwich, Bridgeport, Stamford , Weston , Norwalk, Fairfield, Cos Cob, New Canaan, Wilton, Westport, and throughout the County of Fairfield than please contact the Law Offices of Allan F. Friedman. Our rates are reasonable and we offer payments plans as needed. Call Attorney Friedman at 203.515.4110 to schedule your free initial consultation we are available 24/7. Or you can contact us via our online form for a prompt response.