Marijuana Conditional Discharge: What is it and How Does it Work?
If you have been accused of Possession of Marijuana, there are many issues your attorney will review in deciding how to proceed with your case. One thing you might have to consider is whether you qualify for possession of marijuana conditional discharge (PL 340) and if that is the best method to resolve your case. This blog post will review some of the requirements and the general process for entering into a Conditional Discharge agreement for Possession of Marijuana.
Possession of Marijuana
First, let’s look at what possession of marijuana is and how it may be charged. Having marijuana in your possession is a Class B Misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of 0-180 days and/or a $1000 fine. However, if you have a prior conviction for possession of marijuana, then it is a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries a possible penalty of 0-365 days and/or a $5000 fine. Finally, if more than 30g are alleged to be possessed, then it may be filed as a Level 6 Felony, carrying a possible penalty of six months to two and a half years and/or a $10,000 fine.
Conditional Discharge for Possession of Marijuana
The statute for possession of marijuana conditional discharge can be found at IC 35-48-4-12. The statute states: “If a person who has no prior conviction of an offense under this article or under a law of another jurisdiction relating to controlled substances pleads guilty to possession of marijuana, hashish, salvia, or a synthetic drug or a synthetic drug lookalike substance as a misdemeanor, the court, without entering a judgment of conviction and with the consent of the person, may defer further proceedings and place the person in the custody of the court under Indiana Code 2015 conditions determined by the court. Upon violation of a condition of the custody, the court may enter a judgment of conviction.
However, if the person fulfills the conditions of the custody, the court shall dismiss the charges against the person. There may be only one (1) dismissal under this section with respect to a person.”
So, what does all of that mean? It means that if you have never been convicted of possession of marijuana, the court has the power to ultimately dismiss the charges.
If a defendant enters into a conditional discharge agreement, he or she will plead guilty to the offense in court. At that point the court will defer entering a judgment of conviction and place the defendant under the authority of the court. In some courts, that means serving a full year of probation and refraining from any drug or alcohol use. In other courts, a defendant may be asked to submit to random drug testing for a set period of time. Ultimately, the court has quite a lot of leeway in what restrictions it may impose on a defendant.
Once the defendant has completed the terms of the marijuana conditional discharge and fulfilled all conditions, the court shall dismiss the charges against the person. However, if a defendant fails the terms of his or her conditional discharge, the court can enter a judgment of conviction at that time and proceed to sentencing under the criminal sentencing laws.
Benefits of Marijuana Conditional Discharge
One of the benefits of the conditional discharge statute is that a person with a conviction for some other offense, such as misdemeanor theft, OVWI or disorderly conduct, can qualify for conditional discharge even if they do not qualify for pre-trial diversion under the prosecutor’s office rules, which often requires that a person not have any other convictions or arrests for anything.
After a person successfully completes the conditional discharge program and the case is ultimately dismissed, then one year from the date of the arrest or charges being filed, he or she may then qualify to have the arrest records sealed/expunged. This is another benefit of the program that can allow a person to have the charges dismissed and ultimately sealed, allowing them to move forward without the stigma of a criminal charge following them forever.
Every case is different and not every person accused of possession of marijuana will qualify for Conditional Discharge and not every case will lend itself to that type of resolution, but if you do have questions about a charge for possession of marijuana or a possible conditional discharge agreement, contact The Lockwood Legal Group, LLC. As a former Assistant Attorney Genral and through his work at both the St Joseph Public Defendars Office and Berrian County Prosecutor’s office, James H. Lockwood has unique experience both prosecuting and defending many criminal offenses, including possession of marijuana and handling Conditional Discharge cases and he is here to help you navigate the systems and make sure your rights are defended.
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