What will happen at the federal District Court regarding my possession of marijuana on federal property? 32 Answers as of January 22, 2011

When working on a marine base as a civilian, I was pulled over for speeding after work. I was asked to step out of the car. I told them I do not consent to searches but they said they would tow my car and search it anyway. I agreed to the search, without thinking. They searched my car and found under a gram of marijuana. I was arrested, taken to their office and received a ticket for speeding and Marijuana Possession. Afterward they let me go and I drove my car home. My court date at the local District Court is on February 4th 2011. What are my options? Plead not guilty and request trial by jury?

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Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP
Clifford Clendenin & O'Hale, LLP | Locke T. Clifford
You can plead not guilty and be tried by a jury or you can try to work out a plea. If you have a good record, you may only have to pay a fine and court costs. An attorney who practices in federal court can explain all of your options.
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
Replied: 1/22/2011
The Law Offices of Stephen M. Wiles, LLC
The Law Offices of Stephen M. Wiles, LLC | Stephen M. Wiles
I practice mostly in federal court. They will either indict you or charge this as a misdemeanor. There are many motions we can file regarding this matter. If it is a misdemeanor there will not be a jury.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 1/21/2011
Bloom Legal, LLC
Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
You do have the option of entering a plea and requesting a trial. It would, however, be most advisable to hire an attorney in a matter this serious. It may be possible for the attorney to negotiate reduced charges and/or a reduced sentence for you.

We invite you to contact our firm at the information provided on this page if you are seeking an attorney to represent you in this matter in the state of Louisiana.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 1/21/2011
Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson
Law Office of Michael E. Hendrickson | Michael E. Hendrickson
Get an attorney who understands how to defend petty offense cases in federal court.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 1/21/2011
Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman
Law Offices of Scott G. Hilderman | Scott G. Hilderman
You may have a basis to challenge the search of your car. It is unlikely they would have arrested you and towed your car which would have given them the right to do an inventory search. Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor. My experience is, depending on your criminal history, you will receive a fine for the marijuana possession. Also, under the federal law you can expunge drug convictions after the requisite amount of time.
Answer Applies to: Montana
Replied: 1/21/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    Depending on the court involved, you would probably be facing a misdemeanor and possibly a fine and minimal jail time. I don't currently practice in Federal court so my information may be stale but I am admitted to Federal Court in the Western District of Washington.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Timothy J. Thill P.C.
    Timothy J. Thill P.C. | Timothy J. Thill
    The laws are different for Federal and state cases, as you are in a Federal court with this charge, I would advise you to contact an attorney who practices in the Federal courts, as opposed to an attorney who practices solely in a state court. In context of an Illinois state court, the charge can be negotiated to a reasonable conclusion, however, I have no idea of the outcome in a Federal case.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    What will happen? You are charged with a federal crime, and you will either plead guilty and go to federal prison at the judges discretion, or you will defend and fight the charges. Then, either you will negotiate a plea bargain at one of the hearings you face, or you'll go to trial. You're definitely going to need legal help defending against the charges. You're going up against an experienced and professional prosecutor whose job is to put you in prison. If you're serious about getting legal help, feel free to contact me.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    You can certainly have a trial is you wish, but that is only advisable if the evidence against you is weak or if the deal they offer is not an acceptable one. You should retain a lawyer as soon as possible, one that is experienced in criminal defense and specifically drug charges. They will probably offer you a chance to plead to a lesser charge or else you would have to take the case to trial unless motions can be made that would suppress the evidence or otherwise contest its admissibility.

    Feel free to give us a call for a free, no obligation consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
    Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
    First this response is general information only and does not establish an attorney client relationship. However depending on the exact amount under a gram and the exact charges against you that and other factors as to whether you may be able to get the evidence excluded from trial will determine whether you should attempt to negotiate a plea or go to trial. Federal charges carry more severe penalties than do state court charges. i strongly suggest you hire an attorney. Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC
    Lori C. Obenauf LLC | Lori C. Obenauf
    Yes, you should plead guilty and request a jury trial at your arraignment. If you cannot afford an attorney, request a Federal Public Defender. If you can afford an attorney, you should proceed with engaging one immediately. An attorney will be able to review all of the evidence in your case and assist you with either negotiating a plea agreement or representing you through a trial.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Smith & John
    Smith & John | Kenneth Craig Smith, Jr.
    If you have a good defense, I would request a trial. Depending on the judge, you could get jail time if you plead guilty.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    You probably want to start by pleading not guilty so that you have time to make a plan. Depending on the federal property in question and how it was marked, consent to search the car may not be required. Sometimes you "consent to searches" simply by entering the property. Because it is a small amount of weed, it will not be a very serious charge. Nonetheless, federal court is very strict. You should probably contact an attorney. That is particularly the case if you want to go to trial; you will need an attorney to identify possible defenses or attempt to get the evidence thrown out. Where did this happen? (What state/county?)
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    LT Pepper Law
    LT Pepper Law | Luke T. Pepper
    Possession of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. For a second conviction, the penalties increase to a 15-day mandatory minimum sentence with a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Possession of a small amount such as this is treated as possession.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan
    The Law Offices of Jason Chan | Jason Chan
    The first event will be for arraignment. At that time the court will enter a not guilty for you. You may have certain defenses depending on the facts. You should contact a lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner
    Law Office of Roianne H. Conner | Roianne Houlton Conner
    Have you requested an attorney or retained an attorney? If you have no prior criminal record you may want to explore a diversion program in which you enter a plea of guilty and receiving counseling and community service. At the end of the program, the charge is dismissed. However, if this is NOT an option, I would recommend that you file a Motion to Suppress the search, since from your facts it does not appear that you voluntarily gave your permission to search the car. If you prevail on the Motion to Suppress, then the prosecutor would have to dismiss the charge, if you did not prevail you could then plead guilty and reserve the suppression issue for appeal.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    The answer to your question requires a much more detailed review of the facts. Certainly, there may always be defenses to the charge including challenges to the search itself. Possession of a controlled substance- marijuana less than 2 oz on Federal property - may be a misdemeanor but can still carry with it jail sentences For information on defenses you should immediately contact a federal defense attorney
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    Possession of marijuana is more serious as a federal charge, but an experienced attorney will be able to have the charge reduced and you will be sentenced to probation or drug treatment. If it was a first offense in State Court it would be dismissed with a day or two of community service, but federal charges are much more serious and are governed by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines which recommend what sentence is appropriate depending on your previous record and a point score system for the crime you are accused of. It is much more difficult to have charges completely dismissed in federal court and therefore you will likely have a criminal record, but it is very unlikely you will receive a jail term for a small amount of marijuana.

    Never consent to a search of your person, vehicle, or house, even if the police try to tell you they will get a warrant anyway (that is unlikely) or if they tell you that it will be better for you if you co-operate (this is a lie). People who consent to a search will be arrested, but if you do not consent and they search anyway, the drugs can be suppressed as the product of an illegal search, unless the police lie and say you consented or that it was in "plain view". They will also say they were in fear of their safety and were searching for weapons, but this will not hold up if you are only stopped for a traffic offense.

    If you are committing a crime then they can arrest you and if they find the drugs they will be admissible because the police can do an "inventory search" of your vehicle and a search of your clothes and possessions before you are placed in a cell to look for weapons or contraband. It is a bad idea to have drugs in a car since the police are always looking for drugs and weapons in a vehicle. The people who have it in the trunk will usually be better off than the person who has it in the passenger compartment since the police usually cannot search a trunk to look for weapons "for their protection" as it is not in your "grabbable domaign" as it is when the police claim the searched the car to make sure that you don't grab a weapon.. Retain a good criminal attorney unless one is provided by the military for free.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/20/2011
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
    Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
    What a joke. under a gram? I would ask the federal defender who is in court or even the assistant US attorney. My guess is they would give you a nominal fine - no probation or anything else. good luck.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Colucci and Associates
    Colucci and Associates | Paul Colucci
    Possession is a serious offense and you should definitely be represented at all stages of the proceedings. It is impossible to advise you properly without knowing all of the facts and examining the ticket you were issued. There are many potential issues including including the likelihood of an illegal search and seizure. Unless and until you are able to meet with counsel, the only words out of your mouth should be 'not guilty' and 'I want my lawyer'. Call me to discuss your case in detail.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Avioli Law, P.C.
    Avioli Law, P.C. | Michael Avioli
    You are a defendant. All statements you make -even on the web- are possibly admissible at trial. Consult with me further.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    For such a small amount of MJ a good defense attorney can probably work out a favorable resolution for you without trial. Make sure the attorney you hire is licensed in the Federal District Court that is hearing your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law
    William C. Gosnell, Attorney at Law | William C. Gosnell
    Hire a lawyer. Get good legal advise. The Feds don't believe in Probation.
    Answer Applies to: Tennessee
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Law Office of Michael Brodsky
    Law Office of Michael Brodsky | Michael Brodsky
    It is almost always best to plead NOT guilty and request a trial because it is so difficult to undo. That said, every case is different and I cannot know what other options may be offered to dispose of the case. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Law Office of Aaron Nielson
    Law Office of Aaron Nielson | Aaron Nielson
    Your case begins like any other. Hire an attorney to review the evidence and see if they have a case. You do need to make sure the attorney knows this is a Federal case, many attorneys are not licensed in Federal Court.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    The Purnell Law Firm
    The Purnell Law Firm | Simon Purnell
    Less than one gram of marijuana starts you out as a "level 6" offender on the sentencing table. It is a crime to possess a controlled substance (i.e. marijuana) under Title 21 of the United States Code. The federal court will allow you the opportunity to hire an attorney or will appoint you one if you cannot afford to hire one. In the federal system, the court will not let you simply plead guilty. After the initial appearance, you will have your arraignment where your trial date will be set. It is at that point that you may plead. Even then, you still have to wait for the sentencing (where most of the litigating occurs in these cases). Ideally, you need to get a lawyer hired now.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    I don't understand, when you write plead not guilty and request a jury trial, who is going to try the case, you? What is your defense going to be? It was not marijuana, or it did not belong to you. The police pull you over while you are driving your vehicle. There is no one else in the vehicle, and the police find marijuana in the vehicle. I suspect the police will testify, on the stand during trial,that they smelled marijuana in the vehicle when they pulled you over, which is why they asked you to step out of the vehicle. So, what are you pleading not guilty to? You did it! You possessed marijuana, either actually or constructively.

    What you want to argue is a suppression motion, alleging that the officer's violated your 4th amendment rights by searching your vehicle without your permission. But YOU CANNOT ARGUE THAT MOTION. You need a lawyer for that. If you win that motion, all of the drugs are suppressed and the case goes away. If you lose that motion, then your attorney is probably going to be talking about entering a guilty plea (because you did it), unless some facts come out that lead the attorney to believe that under the law, the judge should have granted the motion.

    Therefore, you need to stop trying to figure out what your options are and go and hire an attorney. Please don't fool yourself into believing that you are capable of arguing the suppression motion yourself. Your options:hire an attorney or enter a guilty plea. I would not be stupid enough to enter a guilty plea without an attorney reviewing the facts and getting the best deal for me, but many people do it, because they have little regard for attorneys. They think: If the attorney cannot beat my case, why should I pay them. Unfortunately, those same folks don't approach doctors the same way. They don't think: If the doctor cannot cure me, I will just operate on myself, because I can extend my life by a few years all by myself. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady
    The Law Office of Kevin O'Grady | Kevin O'Grady
    You potentially have two charges, speeding and possession of marijuana, if the government chooses to proceed with both. Hiring an experienced attorney, especially one who is familiar with military bases, and criminal defense, is your best option. Your attorney will be able to determine if defenses are possible based on the traffic stop, the consent to search, the resultant analysis, if any, of the suspected contraband, as well as defenses against the speeding ticket. All of these must be examined. If you were working on a military base your contract with the military, if any, your clearance, if any, and your ability to drive again on the base, in addition to the criminal and civil offenses, are all at issue. There could be additional proceedings going on beyond the U.S. District court proceeding. An experienced attorney can defend you best and you should seriously consider hiring an attorney before your court date since you have, apparently, at least one federal criminal charge pending.
    Answer Applies to: Hawaii
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We at The Goolsby Law Firm, LLC handle criminal cases in state and federal courts in Georgia. I am a former federal prosecutor for over 20 years and now do work as a criminal defense attorney in Augusta. I would recommend that you retain an experienced federal criminal lawyer in your area as soon as possible who can advise you as to all your rights and options, after hearing all the facts. While it might be possible to seek a suppression of the evidence seized, you should carefully discuss all your options with your criminal lawyer. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 1/19/2011
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