Connecticut Marijuana Possession Lawyer
The Legislature has recently changed marijuana laws in the State of Connecticut. As of July, 2021, all people over the age of 21 in Connecticut may possess, use, and otherwise consume marijuana legally. Of age citizens can possess up to an ounce and a half of marijuana openly and up to five ounces can be possessed when locked in a container within your residence or personal vehicle.
Unfortunately, possessing more than an ounce and a half in a non-secure manner will result in you being issued a ticket. Possessing more than five ounces in total of any marijuana product type can result in you being charged with a class C misdemeanor, if you have prior offenses. If you plead guilty or are found guilty in either scenario, your life can be detrimentally affected in numerous ways. Persons under the age of 21 are similarly vulnerable, only they cannot possess any quantity of marijuana legally.
As most Connecticut marijuana possession lawyers will agree, marijuana possession charges are most often punishable by fines, but in many cases can have long-term consequences on all of your criminal, financial and employment background checks going forward. So, if you are facing charges for § 21a-279a illegal possession of marijuana, then you should contact a top drug possession defense lawyer right away to discuss whether it is possible to get these charges dismissed.
Marijuana Possession by a Person Under 18 years old and a Person Under 21 years old
Section 21a-279a of the Connecticut General Statutes says that a person younger than 21 cannot legally possess marijuana. If you are between 18 and 21 years old and found to be in possession of any amount of marijuana less than five ounces, you will be required to sign a document acknowledging the adverse health effects of marijuana on young people and be issued a ticket. However, possession of over 5 ounces will result in a 500-dollar ticket, and any subsequent offense will yield a misdemeanor charge.
Any person under 18 years old found to be in possession of less than five ounces of Marijuana may be immediately referred to the youth services bureau for further action. Subsequent offenses will require referral to the youth services bureau. A person under 18 who is in possession of over five ounces of marijuana will be adjudicated delinquent, resulting in a host of negative consequences.
Should You Fight Your Marijuana Possession Charge or Ticket?
Our clients ask us this question often. Should they just pay the ticket and not waste money and time fighting a seemingly innocuous fine? No. Should they hire a lawyer in Connecticut to fight the ticket or misdemeanor charge? The answer is an unequivocal Yes.
The best course of action for dealing with a 21a-279a violation is to hire a top criminal attorney who handles 21a-279a illegal possession cases, who can work with you and the prosecutors to find a way to have your marijuana possession case dismissed.
What are the Consequences for Pleading Guilty to Illegal Possession of Marijuana Charges?
Even if it is crystal clear that you are guilty of illegally possessing marijuana, there is a laundry list of reasons for why you should try and fight the fine or charge, or have a top Connecticut lawyer assist you in getting the case resolved in Connecticut Superior Court without a guilty plea.
First, if you, through your attorney, accept responsibility for your conduct and have your marijuana possession lawyer present the appropriate leniency and mitigation arguments, you can sometimes be offered an alternative to pleading guilty. Courts and prosecutors understand the long-term consequences of these charges, and in certain cases will deem you worthy of a second chance.
Second, if you check the “guilty” box and send your 21a-279a illegal possession of marijuana ticket in as a guilty plea, it immediately gets reported to Connecticut’s Centralized Infractions Bureau in Hartford. There, state officials then record the infraction guilty plea—or “conviction”—to the DMV and it will now show up on various background checks, such as:
- Criminal Background Checks – While not always a crime, an “Illegal Possession of Marijuana” ticket will come up and be revealed to potential employers or landlords who are not as up-to-date or savvy on the recent drug law changes and trends. They could quickly draw false assumptions and conclusions about this conviction and your drug use. We have seen employers and landlords deny opportunities to our clients based on their record.
- Insurance Carrier Background Checks – Insurance carriers for auto insurance, life insurance and disability insurance regularly run intense background checks on their insureds. If you did not inform your carrier that you ingest marijuana on your insurance applications, and the insurance carrier sees a 21a-279a conviction on your infraction history, then you may be at risk of the carrier canceling your coverage or raising your premiums.
- Financial Industry Background Checks – For individuals who are applying for jobs where they are required to handle, manage or oversee the transfer of money on behalf of financial institutions, a conviction for illegal possession of marijuana can affect an employer’s consideration of your job application.
Obviously, the stakes become very high—very quickly—when dealing with background checks. Therefore, it is at least worth a phone call to a top lawyer to see whether it makes sense to fight your Connecticut 21a-279a illegal marijuana possession charge.
Can I Fight the Charges?
The best lawyers in Connecticut have had success fighting marijuana possession cases through diligence, aggressive advocacy and mitigation arguments. The two-attorney approach at Mark Sherman Law ensures that at least two of our firm’s lawyers will review your police reports for technical and constitutional defects. We have seen aggressive and illegal search and seizure tactics applied by law enforcement in marijuana possession cases. Did they have the legal right to search your car? Your trunk? Your glove compartment? Your purse? Your backpack? Many times, your consent to search is not given and police jump the gun, invade your constitutionally protected privacy rights, and search for contraband without respecting due process and search warrant requirements.
We have also often successfully challenged the actual “possession” requirement for these charges, especially in scenarios where multiple individuals are associated with one drug user and the police charge everyone in the vicinity of the marijuana. In these cases, we argue that such arrest was illegal and worthy of a dismissal. Motions to dismiss and suppress are not uncommon in scenarios like these and the Mark Sherman Law Team will escalate and litigate these issues in Superior Court if it means we can get you the best chance for a complete dismissal of your case.
Contact a Connecticut Marijuana Possession Attorney at Mark Sherman Law Today
As discussed above, there are many moving parts that surround a 21a-279a illegal marijuana possession ticket or charge. Insurance consequences and Background check issues to name a few. These are problems to discuss with a Connecticut marijuana possession lawyer prior to sending in a guilty plea.
While it may seem insignificant at first, there are many moving parts and unexpected consequences to pleading guilty to an illegal possession of marijuana ticket or charge in Connecticut. So, if you are facing an illegal possession of marijuana charge or ticket in Connecticut, you should contact one of the top defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Mark Sherman. Our team can help you fight your case as quickly and as cost effectively as possible, with the goal of keeping your record clean.