Being found to be in possession of marijuana can lead to the prosecutor charging an individual with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the facts and circumstance of the case. The distinction is important because the penalties have a wide variation.
The misdemeanor-grade charge of possession of marijuana is a first offense simple possession charge. In this instance, there are no facts to show the defendant possessed with intent to distribute or sell. If facts did exist, the charge could be increased to the felony charge of Possession with Intent to Distribute. Facts that may be used to prove intent to distribute may include the presence of scales, baggies, weapons and cash. Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana (Schedule I) carries a sentencing range of 5-30 years in prison. On the other hand, simple possession of marijuana, first offense, carries 0-6 months in jail.
Simple possession of marijuana can also be increased to a felony, without the facts indicating intent to distribute, when the State can prove the defendant has a prior conviction for possession of marijuana. Therefore, Possession of Marijuana, Second Offense, is a felony, punishable up to 5 years in prison.
If you are faced with a marijuana charge in Louisiana, contact Carl Barkemeyer, Baton Rouge Marijuana Defense Lawyer at (225) 964-6720.