Weed. Ganja. Mary Jane. Reefer. Did you know there are literally over 1,000 slang terms for “Marijuana”? Whatever YOU call it, Missouri still calls it “illegal” and if you are caught possessing small amounts of it in Missouri, the resulting misdemeanor marijuana charge can be an expensive headache.
Misdemeanor Marijuana Possession Statute
Here is the State statute relevant to marijuana possession. The severity of the offense is dictated by the weight of marijuana you possess and/or a number of prior convictions you've had for this. I'll save you the click by inserting this handy chart:
- Under 10 Grams – Class D Misdemeanor
Fine up to $500. If you've had a prior finding of guilt, then this is upgraded to an A Misdemeanor. See below.
- Between 10 and 35 Grams – Class A Misdemeanor
Up to 1 year in the county jail and/or $2000 fine.
Well, now. That escalated quickly. Time for a joke: How do you turn a dime-bag of weed into a $2000 bag of weed? Get caught with it in Missouri. ba-dum-crash.
If you think the real joke is that misdemeanor marijuana possession is still taken so seriously in Missouri, think again because unfortunately, prosecutors aren't laughing.
So, What's Going to Happen to You?
If you're busted with small amounts of weed in Missouri, what happens in your case depends on a lot of factors. Is this your first offense? Are you charged in Municipal or State court? In which municipality or county are you charged? Did you lead the cops on a high-speed chase across 3 counties because of a one-hitter?
Where are you charged with marijuana possession? In some municipalities, the prosecutor might just amend the marijuana ticket to something like littering and assess a hefty fine. They get their money, and you get out of there with a lesson learned and a clean record. Some municipality or county courts, however, want you to take probation. Or a conviction with a fine. Or worse, jail time. I know that doesn't sound fair, but this is our criminal justice system we're talking about. Did you expect fair?
If this is your first offense and your record is otherwise spotless, your chances of getting out of there without a conviction or probation are much higher. Prosecutors lose patience quickly for defendants they see in front of them every few months for doing the same stuff over and over again.
Were you respectful to the officer that pulled you over? Or did you go on a grass-fed rampage about the officer's less than attractive wife, ever-expanding waistline, and ever retreating hair? A prosecutor is much more likely to play ball if he thinks you are an upstanding citizen who respects law enforcement despite your proclivity to get high once in a while.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
Everyone charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession should hire a criminal defense lawyer to defend them. A criminal defense lawyer can review the police report to make sure that your constitutional rights have not been violated by the search. They also will ensure the prosecutor can prove every single element of the misdemeanor marijuana possession statute. If your case can't be won, a criminal defense attorney will also be more likely to get the case amended from a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge to something less nefarious, like littering.
Before you go thinking that the previous paragraph was incredibly self-serving, there are instances where a lawyer is unnecessary. If this is your first offense and you don't care about having a weed case on your record and you had less than 10 grams, you can go ahead and pay the fine and move on with your life.
If you're unsure whether you should hire an attorney for your misdemeanor marijuana case, call me today and schedule a free consultation. I would be happy to give you an honest assessment of your case and layout all your options before you spend a dime.