Do I need an attorney for a first time marijuana possession charge? 17 Answers as of March 07, 2013

During traffic stop I had a few grams on me, definitely less than an oz. Should I just use a public defender since it was less than an oz?

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The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq.
The Law Offices of John J. Carney Esq. | John J. Carney
You can get an ACD even with a public defender for a first offense. You should be careful not to have pot in a car or in your pocket since another arrest may result in a criminal conviction.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 2/18/2013
Michael Breczinski
Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
Either the public defender or a retained lawyer should be able to work out something where you end up with no conviction for the drugs.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/18/2013
Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan
Law Office of Geoffrey M. Yaryan | Geoffrey M. Yaryan
Depends upon whether you have a defense. It's a minor charge with only a fine if convicted, but it will be on your record. If it was a traffic stop, there may be an illegal search issue, it would be wise to contact an attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/11/2013
Law Office of Joe Dane
Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
If this is from California, then possession of less than an ounce is an infraction, so you wouldn't be entitled to a public defender. You can hire your own attorney, but you can't get one appointed. If this is charged as a misdemeanor because it was in a car, then yes, you can request a public defender if you financially qualify.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 3/7/2013
Timothy J. Thill P.C.
Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
If the court will appoint a public defender, because you are too poor to hire a private attorney, go for it.but In any case, being represented by an attorney is recommended, ad jail time is always a possibility, along with a permanent criminal record which will affect you for the rest of your life.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Replied: 2/8/2013
    William L. Welch, III Attorney | William L. Welch, III
    When deciding whether to be represented by an attorney or whether to represent yourself, consider whether you know the law, procedure, rules of evidence, prosecutor, and the judge well enough to risk having a permanent criminal record and possibly serving time. The only difference between retaining an attorney and having the public defender appointed an attorney for you is that you do not get to pick whom the public defender appoints. There are good and bad attorneys appointed by the public defenders office, just like there are good and bad members of the private bar. An attorney can assist you with evaluating the states case, any defenses that you might have, and any plea offer that might be made, in helping you decide whether to plea bargain or go to trial. If you are found guilty, an attorney can assist you with presenting mitigation, allocution, and a recommendation for a more lenient sentence. Consider seeking a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Online posts are not confidential. If somehow the prosecution were to discover anything you say or write, then it might be used in evidence against you.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    A public defender is an attorney and most are very experienced and good at what they do despite a somewhat sordid public opinion. Even a first offense marijuana charge can have severe consequences such as a loss of your driving privileges , not to mention fines & costs, probation, and possibly jail. Stick with an attorney just to be on the safe side.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Gates' Law, PLLC | Thomas E. Gates
    Your income determines whether you qualify for a public defender.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Grant & Grant
    Grant & Grant | Richard L. Grant, Esq.
    You should have been charged with an Infraction. Public Defenders are not available for Infractions, only misdemeanors or felonies. You should hire a traffic attorney, most charge around $500 for arraignment and trial. Your case may be dismissed if the officer does not show for the traffic trial. If you need further assistance, please call my offices. We have handled many cases similar to yours.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
    Your selection of counsel is strictly up to you.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    The Rogers Law Firm
    The Rogers Law Firm | Andrea Storey Rogers
    You won't get a public defender if it's a municipal ordinance violation. Public defenders only handle state charges. You definitely need to hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you. It's not the prosecutor's job (or the judge's job) to offer you a good deal. If you have no prior convictions for a drug-related offense, then your attorney can probably negotiate a plea bargain to get the possession charge reduced to "Littering" with a fine and court costs. You probably won't have to appear in court. You might have to attend a drug education class. Call around and get some price quotes from criminal defense attorneys, but if this is in the St. Louis area, I would suggest that a fair price to pay a lawyer to handle this would be $350-$400, depending on which court it's in, how soon the court date is, and your criminal history.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    If this a first offense you need an attorney to hopefully keep this off of your record. The real issue is the future, get clean and stay clean.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Connell-Savela | Jason Savela
    If you are 21 years of age or older this should not be illegal
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    If you're accused of possessing less than an oz in California, you are not entitled to the Public Defender's services. Simple possession is an infraction, just like a traffic ticket. It's a small fine and no mandatory court appearance. Don't waste your money hiring a lawyer. If you're accused of anything more serious than simple possession (e.g. intent to distribute, transportation, etc.), then you should definitely speak with a private attorney to discuss your options before you make any decisions in the case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Cook, Skeen & Robinson, LLC
    Cook, Skeen & Robinson, LLC | Shawn H. Robinson
    You should consult an attorney. In Utah, drug possession charges are enhanceable. That means that subsequent charges can be filed one level higher. Drug possession convictions also suspend your driver's license in Utah. There may be a suppression issue in your case to get the case dismissed. An attorney can assess whether a 4th Amendment violation occurred.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
    At times some public defenders do not use various sentencing options for first time offenders. It is your choice and decision.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/8/2013
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    First you may not qualify for public defender. Second, IF you plead guilty or are found guilty of misdemeanor marijuana charge, your driver's license will be suspended.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 2/8/2013
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