Unlawful Possession of Marijuana - PL 221.05

New Marijuana Enforcement Policy by NYPD begins September 1, 2018.  Marijuana is NOT decriminalized in NYC.  More marijuana cases are going to be charged on pink summonses.  Read veteran NYC Criminal Lawyer Don Murray's article about the NYPD marijuana enforcement changes.  This article was published in the Shalley and Murray "Defense Posts" criminal law blog.


Unlawful possession of marijuana is a violation level offense in New York. That means that if you get convicted of unlawful possession of marijuana you still will not have a criminal conviction for purposes of New York State. Realize that the federal government may not be bound by New York's view of this offense, and especially in the context of immigration situations, you ought to be careful before simply agreeing to plead guilty to this offense. In fact, you may want to consult with a lawyer about this or any other potential impact of a marijuana charge.

The interesting thing about pink summonses charging unlawful possession of marijuana in New York City is that the law provides an argument that can be made in some cases to make a motion to dismiss the charge if there is no field test, laboratory report, or affidavit from a police officer indicating the substance in question was in fact marijuana. This is true because of a requirement in New York of something called a "corroborating affidavit" that must be present with a charging document in which unlawful possession of marijuana is charged. If you are faced with a charge of this type, you might want to engage a lawyer to make the arguments for you since your grasp of the legal concepts may not be as precise as a lawyer's.

Also, if your summons is not dismissed because of the absence of a lab report, field test, or appropriate affidavit from the officer, you still may be eligible for an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal that operates as a delayed dismissal. Again, this is territory where the understanding of a lawyer may be beneficial.

The text of the statute is:

A person is guilty of unlawful possession of marihuana when he knowingly and unlawfully possesses marihuana. Unlawful possession of marihuana is a violation punishable only by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars. However, where the defendant has previously been convicted of an offense defined in this article or article 220 of this chapter, committed within the three years immediately preceding such violation, it shall be punishable (a) only by a fine of not more than two hundred dollars, if the defendant was previously convicted of one such offense committed during such period, and (b) by a fine of not more than two hundred fifty dollars or a term of imprisonment not in excess of fifteen days or both, if the defendant was previously convicted of two such offenses committed during such period.


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Related New York Criminal Court Links

The following are links to related sites with more information about pinks summons cases or information about other aspects of the New York Criminal Justice System, including a link to webcrims, a way to check online where and when your case (including pink summons matter) is pending:

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