Marijuana Crime Attorney in Albuquerque
Experienced Drug Charges and Marijuana Crimes Defense Lawyers Serving all of New Mexico
New Mexico is among the 20 U.S. states in which medical marijuana is legal. Since 2007, patients with certain conditions who have obtained a written recommendation from a doctor and a state registry identification card which allows them to avoid criminal marijuana charges. Contact your Albuquerque marijuana crime defense lawyer if you or a loved one have been accused of a marijuana crime in New Mexico.
Recreational use of marijuana, however, is still a crime; although a bill to decriminalize the drug passed the House in the 2013 legislative session, the Senate failed to act on it. So, although you may enjoy an occasional smoke, you do it at a substantial risk. Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor, punishable by fines and potential jail time.
Regardless of your personal feelings on the subject, if you are convicted on a pot charge from simple possession upward, you could lose your freedom for a time and be saddled with a criminal record. The fact that a majority of people in the state think this is excessive is little consolation if you or your child is facing criminal charges for marijuana use or trafficking.
The good news is that with an excellent Albuquerque criminal attorney, it may be possible in some cases to make the charge go away, or at least reduce the negative consequences to your life.
Penalties depend on whether you are convicted of possession or trafficking, the amounts involved, and whether it is a first or subsequent offense, whether it occurs in a school zone, or whether a minor is involved. Penalties are more severe in all categories for a second or subsequent offense, violations taking place in a school zone, or offenses that involve a minor.
Possession penalties range from a fine of anywhere from $50 to $5000 and from 15 days in jail to 3 years in prison.
Selling or trafficking in marijuana is a more serious crime with harsher penalties:
- At the low end, distributing a small amount of marijuana without being paid for it can put you in jail for up to 15 days with a possible fine of 50 to $100 for a first offence;
- Trafficking of up to 100 pounds of marijuana is punishable by fine of up to $5,000 and as much as three years in prison, or both;
- Trafficking in 100 pounds of marijuana or more can bring penalties as high as a fine of $15,000 and up to 18 years in prison, or both.
It is also illegal in New Mexico to manufacture, sell, use, or possess drug paraphernalia, which includes anything meant to be used for growing, harvesting, processing, selling, storing, or using marijuana. Most paraphernalia charges are misdemeanors with potential fines and jail time. Penalties vary according to the violation, with harsher penalties for selling paraphernalia to a minor, which is a felony.
Marijuana Charges Destroy Lives
A criminal drug conviction, even for marijuana, a drug that is now legal is some states, often causes serious setbacks, especially for college students, who in addition to the legal penalties listed above can lose their financial aid, making it impossible to complete their degree. Promising careers may be destroyed because of a drug that is arguably less dangerous than a legal one—alcohol.
Other obstacles that you can face when you’ve been convicted of a felony drug crime are difficulties finding housing and employment and losing your rights to vote, hold public office, and own a firearm.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is “possession” in New Mexico?
To “possess” marijuana:
- You must have physical control of it (individually or jointly with others); and
- You must have knowledge or intention of having it.
The prosecution must prove both of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt. “Willful blindness” (for example, refusing to look into a bag that you are paid to transport) is not a defense if you reasonably should have known that the substance was illegal.
What is a “drug free school zone”?
In New Mexico, a drug free school zone is a posted area within a 1,000-foot radius of a primary or secondary school. The penalties for possession, distribution, manufacturing, or sale within this zone are enhanced, except that mere possession by someone under 18 is treated as if it did not occur in a drug-free school zone.
Can I get the evidence excluded if the officer lacked a warrant to perform a search?
Maybe, maybe not. There are many exceptions to the warrant requirement. If you can get the evidence excluded, the prosecutor may or may not drop the case – it depends on whether he believes he still has enough evidence to convict you even without the excluded evidence.
Can I be charged with DWI for driving while “stoned”?
Yes. Driving while “stoned” is considered a form of DWI. Unlike an alcohol DWI, however, there is no legal limit — any amount of marijuana found in your bloodstream will support a DWI conviction. The penalties are exactly the same as alcohol DWI penalties.
Can I be charged with a marijuana DWI for medical marijuana?
Yes, you can be. The question in a DWI case is not whether the substance you were taking is legal or not, but whether it intoxicated you or not. You can be convicted of DWI even for being under the influence of a legal prescription drug.
What signs of marijuana use will a police officer look for?
- Rapid heartbeat
- Bleary eyes
- Odor of marijuana
- Dry mouth
- Dilated pupils
- Impaired coordination
What is a deferred sentence?
A deferred sentence is an arrangement by which you agree to meet certain conditions of probation for a certain period, after which point charges are dropped. One advantage of this arrangement is that it allows you to avoid a criminal record.
Can you guarantee you will hold our conversations confidential?
Yes, absolutely. Under the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct, we are legally required to keep all communications with you confidential unless you give us permission to tell someone else. We are even entitled, even required, to refuse to testify in court regarding the content of confidential client communications. In addition, we are honor-bound to keep your secrets.
How does a plea bargain work?
In a plea bargain, you make a deal with the prosecutor to plead guilty to a lesser charge to avoid a trial. The prosecutor will then recommend that the judge accept your plea. The judge does not have to accept the prosecutor’s recommendation, but he usually does. Prosecutors will do this if they are not sure of winning at trial, or if they need to reduce the size of their workload.
Protect Your Future Contact Albuquerque Marijuana Defense Attorney
Don’t let a marijuana charge destroy your life or the life of your son or daughter. Hire an experienced drug crime defense attorney with a track record of having marijuana charges dropped or reduced. Contact the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices in Albuquerque for aggressive, effective defense against marijuana and other drug-related charges. The initial consultation is always free with one of our professional drug crime defense lawyers.