Marijuana Sentencing Alternatives

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What Is the Legal Status of Marijuana?

Federal laws make the possession and distribution of marijuana illegal.  However, decriminalization movements, medical marijuana usage, and social acceptance of marijuana use have already been reflected in many state laws. As a result, marijuana sentencing alternatives in several states have drastically changed in the past decade. 

Many states have implemented laws that decriminalize marijuana possession, or that greatly reduce the legal penalties associated with marijuana violations. Unlike other types of drug crimes and drug-related offenses, marijuana crimes often carry with them various sentencing alternatives. 

What Are Some Marijuana Sentencing Alternatives?

Depending on the laws of the state you are located in, there may be several non-jail alternatives for persons charged with marijuana-related offenses. These can include:

For some of these sentencing alternatives, emphasis is placed on the defendant completing the required measures. For example, if the defendant fails to attend probation courses, they may lose their probation privileges, and will instead face normal sentencing methods like fines or jail time.

What Is an “Aggravating Factor” in Relation to Marijuana Crimes?

In states that have not decriminalized marijuana, legal penalties are similar to those for other drug offenses. These can include misdemeanor charges, which lead to criminal fines and a short period of jail time. Even in states that have lessened the seriousness of marijuana offenses, jail time can be imposed if certain “aggravating factors” are involved in the marijuana offense. 

Some aggravating factors include:

Thus, even with more relaxed state policies, it’s still possible for a person to be subjected to serious criminal consequences for a marijuana crime. Lastly, remember that marijuana is also still illegal under federal laws, which can carry more serious sentencing penalties.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Marijuana crimes can lead to various legal consequences. If you need legal assistance for marijuana charges, an experienced criminal lawyer in your area can be of much help to you. You may wish to contact a criminal attorney immediately for more information about marijuana sentencing alternatives in your state. Your lawyer can help defend you during court hearings.

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Last Modified: 05-07-2014 12:31 PM PDT

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