Misdemeanor marijuana offenses can carry up to a year in jail and ruin your job opportunities. They can also prevent you from obtaining federal financial aid. We know how to keep charges off your record.
Marijuana offenses can seem minor, especially when it will likely be legal in the near future. However, in the state of Kentucky, marijuana is still illegal, police still arrest people, and prosecutors (try) to put them in jail. Regardless of whether a jury actually will give jail time for a conviction in a marijuana case (in our experience most cases are diverted or sealed after paying a fine), a marijuana conviction can have a lasting effect on your employment opportunities if it isn’t handled properly.
According to a recent study, 92% of employers perform background checks. In today’s tough job market can you afford to have something on your record putting you behind the pack? If you receive a misdemeanor marijuana charge, your options can be confusing. Should I fight it on my own? Is diversion an option? Can I get it expunged? What is void and seal? Do I have to go to court? What if the officer was wrong? Should I just pay a fine? Contact our Lexington criminal defense attorneys at Clark Law PLLC to figure out what to do next. We can listen to the facts and help you decide what is best for you. Call us now at (859) 474-0001 or schedule a free phone appointment below.
“What Happens If I Am Charged With Possession of Marijuana (KRS 218A.1422) in Kentucky?”
In most cases, police in Kentucky cannot arrest for possession of marijuana (See KRS 431.005). However under certain circumstances they can. Under Kentucky Law KRS 431.015 a police officer is required to issue a citation rather than arrest even when someone commits a misdemeanor in their presence. Additional charges could lead to an arrest, as could being combative/refusing to follow police instructions. If an officer stops you and you are in possession of marijuana, it is best to remain polite. If they unlawfully arrest you, it could lead to the case being dismissed.
Once a decision to cite or arrest is made, you will be given a court date. That court date is for an arraignment or initial appearance. In Lexington, misdemeanor arraignments are generally held at 1:00 PM in Courtroom 3 of the District Court at 150 N. Limestone, Lexington, KY 40507 every day of the week. You should check your citation to confirm this is when you are scheduled to appear as court times are subject to change.
At arraignment you may be presented with several options. These options could include an offer to plead guilty, accept diversion, or plead not guilty. As every case is different, it is best to consult with an experienced Lexington marijuana lawyer before making a decision. Diversion is a community service program. Generally you can expect to pay a fee and perform between twenty and forty hours of community service in exchange for a minor charge being dismissed. Other counties have more informal diversion programs. We have placed several clients in these programs in Franklin, Woodford, and other Central, KY counties. While diversion can be a good option for many defendants, it is not always the best option.
If you are not eligible for diversion, there are still other options other than pleading guilty. Our marijuana lawyers will review your case to determine whether the search that led to the discovery of the marijuana was illegal. If your fourth amendment rights were violated, the case could potentially be dismissed. There could be a factual defense to your case as well: can the government prove that it was marijuana? Perhaps you have a medical card from another state. There is currently pending litigation in the state of Kentucky to enforce a constitutional right to medical marijuana. We have represented clients who used marijuana for medical reasons and believe they are particularly sympathetic to jurors.
“What Is a Void and Seal for a Marijuana Conviction?”
Under KRS 218A.276, you can petition the court to void and seal your conviction for possession of marijuana as soon as you complete your sentence. You are eligible to void and seal as soon as you pay your fine and court costs, complete your probation, or serve your jail time, you can apply to have the charge removed from your record. With a traditional misdemeanor expungement under KRS 431.078 you would have to wait five years. Our lawyers can ensure that your void and seal procedure is performed correctly, which can minimize the chances of your marijuana charge appearing on background checks.
Lead Attorney Bradley Clark
Other Misdemeanor Marijuana Charges
While Possession of Marijuana is the most common marijuana charge we handle, we also frequently help clients charged with:
- Cultivation of Marijuana – KRS 218.1423 – This is a Class A Misdemeanor for a first offense. The government must prove a transfer or intent to transfer. We have been successful at having over sixty plants amended to misdemeanor possession because of this requirement.
- Trafficking in Marijuana – KRS 218A.1421 – We have negotiated results as low as fines in marijuana trafficking cases.
- Possession of Synthetic Drugs – KRS 218A.1430 – Powerful, untested synthetic marijuana is being sold daily. The penalties for these drugs are getting harsher all the time. We can help.
“How Can Marijuana Charges Affect My Kentucky Student Loans?”
Marijuana charges only affect your student loans if you are convicted. If you were merely arrested or cited, there are still things that can be done to keep you eligible for student loans. Your federal student loan eligibility can only be suspended for drug offenses if you are convicted for an offense that occurred during a period in which you were receiving federal financial aid. The government will find out about the conviction when you fill out your next FAFSA form and that’s when you are required to disclose the information.
How long you will be suspended for eligibility depends upon what offense you were convicted of: possession or trafficking. A first time marijuana possession conviction can result in a one year suspension. A second conviction could mean two years, and a third strike could cause a permanent suspension.
Our Central Kentucky marijuana lawyers can help you avoid these suspensions. We can help you get charges diverted and dismissed so you don’t have to disclose them on your FAFSA application. Even if you aren’t eligible for diversion, we may be able to have the charge voided and sealed prior to you reapplying for financial aid. If you are in school, or thinking about going back, don’t take a guilty plea without talking to an attorney first.
“How Do I Get a License to Grow Medical/Recreational Marijuana in Kentucky?”
Ask us in a couple years. We will be happy to help.
Recent Marijuana Case Results
- Client Facing Five Years For Felony Trafficking Receives Two Weekends - Our client was facing five years in prison for the felony of Trafficking Marijuana, as well as Fleeing and Evading ...
- Clever Legal Work Leads to Dismissal of Convicted Felon In Possession of a Handgun Charge - Our client was charged with Convicted Felon in Possession of a Handgun (KRS 527.040) as well as Possession of Marijuana ...
- Aggravating Circumstances Dismissed in DUI Case - Our client was looking at an aggravated DUI and a possession of marijuana charge in a tough rural district. The ...
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