A Connecticut attorney recently received a citation for drug possession after marijuana fell from his pocket while he was in court. According to a paralegal at the firm where the attorney worked, a parent had confiscated marijuana from her child, and the parent provided the marijuana to the attorney along with a request that the attorney talk to the juvenile. The story proceeds that the attorney put the weed in his pocket and forgot about it until the marijuana fell from his pocket in court. The story sounds a little farfetched, and it does become harder for me to believe after one discovers that the quantity of marijuana involved was alleged to have been approximately two ounces.
I am relatively familiar with marijuana dealing and use because I have been representing Penn State students charged with marijuana related offenses for the past ten years. Many of my clients purchase one-eighth or one-quarter ounces of marijuana for personal use. Some of the heavier smokers do take the Sam's Club or Costco approach and buy in bulk to save money, but even then, those marijuana purchasers get a half ounce to an ounce quantity. Two ounces is a pretty big quantity, and would not easily fit into a pocket. It is something that would be very noticeable and thereby difficult to forget about.
Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws
According to the article, the man was issued a citation. Had this event occurred in Centre County, Pennsylvania, the man would have been charged with a misdemeanor offense of drug possession under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(16) and possibly even a felony offense of Possession With Intent to Deliver under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(30). The primary difference between the misdemeanor and felony charge is whether the man possessed the marijuana with the intent to use it or with the intent to distribute it to others. In Pennsylvania, a person that delivers or possesses with the intent to deliver a drug is charged with a felony, and the definition of "delivery" does not require that a person actually be paid for the drugs. Over the years, I have represented many people that believed that they could not be charged with drug delivery because they either gave the drug to another person or simply sold the drug at cost, meaning the same amount that the seller paid for the drugs. Those persons learned the hard way that just giving the drug to another person constitutes a delivery of the drug.
In this case, the man could be charged with Possession With Intent to Deliver based upon the quantity of marijuana involved. Many people wonder how the district attorney can prove what the man intended. Intent in most cases is proved through circumstantial and not direct evidence. Rarely does a case involve a fact pattern in which the suspect admitted to possessing the drug with the intent to deliver. An intent to distribute case often involves evidence that the suspect possessed a scale to weigh marijuana, baggies to package it for resale, cash nearby in a lock box, and possibly owe sheets to evidence debts owed by other buyers. Such circumstantial evidence would give the prosecution a good case of possession with intent to deliver. If the suspect had numerous bongs, bowls, or other marijuana smoking devices nearby, while such evidence would justify a charge of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, such evidence would also support an argument that the person possessed the drug for personal use and not for distribution. The issue would ultimately be decided by a jury. If the jury felt that the prosecution had proved the intent to deliver beyond a reasonable doubt, then the jury would convict the suspect of the offense. However, if the jury felt that the prosecution had failed to carry its burden, then the jury would find the suspect not guilty of the felony intent to distribute charge but guilty of the misdemeanor possession. Anyone charged with a drug related offense should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney because a conviction could result in jail time, hefty fines, and collateral consequences such as a license suspension and a long term criminal record.