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It starts just like any other traffic stop; you were speeding, rolled a stop sign, or some other mild infraction. But, unlike other mild stops, you have a bag of weed in your car… A bag of marijuana that smells quite a bit, and now, police are searching the vehicle. This isn’t a great scenario for you, but you know that this is your first offense. So, you’ll just pay a small fine and it’s smooth sailing… right? In most scenarios, yes. But, sometimes this isn’t the case.

First Offense for Marijuana: Will I Just Pay a Fine?

You can still face jail time for your first offense possession charge. Both possession of paraphernalia and possession of marijuana are misdemeanor charges. Possession of paraphernalia carries a fine up to $500 and up to thirty days jail time. Possession of weed carries a fine of $100 to $200 and up to thirty days jail time. Therefore, your punishment will be based on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. In short, the judge will interpret the law as they see fit.

When it comes to paraphernalia, these factors can make punishment more severe:

  1. If the paraphernalia was near marijuana.
  2. How much marijuana is found with the paraphernalia.
  3. If your paraphernalia was part of the distribution and sale of marijuana.
  4. If the paraphernalia is specifically for use with marijuana.

As for the marijuana itself:

  1. If you were driving with the weed.
  2. You were near a place with children.
  3. If you have other (non-weed related) criminal offenses.
  4. It seemed like you had the intent to sell the weed.
  5. How much marijuana you have.

Now, if the police determine that you planned to sell or distribute the weed, your charge will be for possession with intent to sell. Furthermore, if you have a lot of weed, your charge will be for trafficking marijuana. These charges carry jail time for up to 5 years for first offenses. Therefore, no matter what your first offense is for, you can receive jail time for your first marijuana related offense.

Ultimately, driving with marijuana in the car can be bad news

Sure, your first offense can be an easy fine and move on. But, sometimes it’s not so cut and dry. So, consider not driving with it in your car. We understand that you want to have fun, enjoy your marijuana, and not be bothered. But, when you live in a state that has yet to legalize marijuana— you are putting yourself at risk. So drive safe, drive clean, and drive safely. But if it comes down to it, and you’ve failed to do so, we’re here to help you.