You have been arrested for marijuana possession again. The police charge you with possession of less than 50 grams. OK, it is a misdemeanor. However, if you are convicted, it will go on your record, you will be on probation, you will lose your license for 6 months, and you just found out the prosecutor is recommending 30 days in the county jail.
Additionally, you do not have a conditional discharge available because of your prior PTI (pre-trial intervention). What are your options? Well, every case is different. But in my opinion, when faced with a situation such as this, there is very little down side to taking the case to trial.
The first step is to consult with an experienced NJ marijuana defense lawyer and determine what (if any) you defenses are. Sometimes, a defendant charged with NJSA 2C:35-10a(4) may not have any defenses. But more often than not, there is at least a probable cause or suppression issue to be explored. These may include automobile search exception requirements, consent searches, pat down searches, plain view and plain smell claims, etc.
Secondly, the state may have lab report and chain of custody problems. This discovery provided to your defense attorney may present a break in the chain of custody on its face. The lab report may be missing or not provided in a timely fashion, which could lead to a dismissal.
Occasionally, the state may proceed under the theory of constructive possession, when the accused was not in actual possession of the marijuana. These cases are typically harder to prove.
This is the bottom line. In situations such as these, when the plea offer is essentially the same as if you had been found guilty at trial, and you have a defense (even minor) to the charge, why not take a shot. An good criminal defense lawyer may be able to get you a not guilty verdict. Alternatively, even if you are found guilty following trial, your attorney may be able to lesson the penalties you face during sentencing by making a compelling argument.
I can be reached for more information via the phone number listed above.