First Time Marijuana Penalties in New York

Cannabis laws are swiftly changing across the country. States like Washington, Colorado, and Oregon have fully-regulated, legal marijuana markets. As perceptions change towards the drug, legislature follows. However, marijuana is still an illegal substance in New York.

That means you can be arrested, processed, and jailed if you are caught with marijuana. The outcomes of your interaction with the police will differ based on the facts of the case. Still, the point remains – you can be arrested for marijuana in New York City and the State of New York.

Upon any arrest, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney well-versed in handling drug possession charges.

Simple Possession

Recently New York City changed their policy regarding marijuana arrests for simple possession. When policies were changed in 2012, arrests and even issuing of summons dropped dramatically. To give an idea of the significance of the decline, 2011 saw 51,000 marijuana arrest in the city, compared to under 17,000 in 2015.

Regardless of arrests and citations in the City, the state penalties for 1st time possession are straightforward, and quite lenient:

ChargeClassificationIncarcerationFine
1st offense 25 grams or lessViolationNone$100
2nd offense 25 grams or lessViolationNone$200

In short, getting charged with your first, or even second possession offense in New York or New York City won’t typically land you in jail. However, if you’re caught a 3rd time, you risk 15 days of incarceration.

However, in 2016, arrests for marijuana are up. This may be related to increased enforcement of New York’s public consumption law. Consuming in public view can dramatically alter consequences.

ChargeClassificationIncarcerationFine
Possession in Public ViewMisdemeanor90 Days$250

If you consume or possess marijuana in public view, getting caught will get you in some real legal trouble. Rather than a non-criminal offense, the charges elevate to a misdemeanor. This means your likelihood of being arrested and spending a few hours in jail are much more likely.

In addition, you’ll have charges that will stay on your record and that could lead to jail time. Any time you’re charged with a misdemeanor level crime, your best course of action is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Possession of Larger Quantities

As the amount of marijuana you possess increases, so do the penalties. Let’s take a quick look at penalties for 1st time possession for varying quantities:

ChargeClassificationIncarcerationFine
25 grams – 2 ouncesMisdemeanor3 months$500
Between 2 and 8 ouncesMisdemeanor1 year$1000
8 oucnces – 1 poundFelony4 years$5000
1 – 10 poundsFelony7 years$5000
Over 10 poundsFelony15 years$15000

If you’re charged with possession under these guidelines, it doesn’t matter that it’s only your first offense. You face very real, and very serious, penalties. Chance of incarceration is greatly increased, and fines escalate quickly.

A serious misdemeanor or felony marijuana charge will affect your life in a variety of ways. First of all, you’ll be facing incarceration. Time in jail or prison hampers personal and professional relationships. Second, you’ll have a criminal record. This can make it difficult to find a new job. Finally, you’ll face financial hardships as you have to deal with massive fines.

Getting arrested for marijuana possession is frightening. Your best option is to find a defense attorney who can guide you through the case and get the best possible outcome. A major issue you’ll encounter when arrested for possession of large quantities of marijuana is that assumption that you are carrying it for sale.

Possession for Sale

A conviction for sale of marijuana will have life altering consequences. You face increased fines, an increased chance of a prison sentence, and the stigma attached to being a drug offender for the rest of your life.

Let’s take a look at some examples of the penalties for sale of marijuana in New York:

ChargeClassificationIncarcerationFine
Sale of 25 grams or lessMisdemeanor1 year$500
Sale of 25 grams to 4 ouncesFelony4 years$5000
Over 1 poundFelony15 years$15000
Sale to a minor (any amount)Felony7 years$5000

Trafficking of any amount of marijuana (carrying marijuana into New York) carries a fine of up to $100,000 and mandatory prison time.

The bottom line is this: the majority of marijuana charges in New York call for assistance of an expert criminal defense attorney. Getting arrested for marijuana possession is scary – it’s something you want to avoid. Still, it happens to thousands of New Yorkers each year.

If you find yourself facing 1st time misdemeanor or felony marijuana charges, contact the Law Offices of George Vomvolakis as soon as possible. Reach us online, or call 212-682-0700.