If I was was arrested for possession of marijuana and paraphenalia, should I try to fight the charges or not?

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If I was was arrested for possession of marijuana and paraphenalia, should I try to fight the charges or not?

A friend asked me to go fishing with him, so I met him at local lagoon. He had brought his pipe and some weed; he loaded a bowl took a hit a set it down by a tree. After catching and releasing a fish, I went over and took a hit. Moments later the game warden pulled up, apparently he had been near by and he had seen me. After some questions and him searching he found the pipe near the tree, put me in cuffs and called for a city cop. The city cop arrived, asked me more questions and I was arrested. I was never read my rights, never asked if the pipe was in fact mine. What should I do?

Asked on July 7, 2012 under Criminal Law, Montana

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You need to go work the best plea bargain that you can if the officer saw you taking a hit from the bowl.  Do not confuse possession and ownership.  The law doesn't care who is the actual owner of the dope.  The legal question is who was in possession.  If the marijuana was in your hands, then you were in possession.  Your friend could be charged with possessing the same marijuana earlier in the fishing trip.  This is called joint-possession (no pun intended), because you can both be charged jointly for the same substance. 

The comments that you refer to may or may not be admissible.  Generally, an officer can ask you questions before you are arrested to determine what happened.  After you are under arrest, then they must read you Miranda warnings for your statement to be admissible.  The issue is going to be when you were actually under arrest.  Regardless of the admissibility of the statements though, the state can still pursue a conviction if they have an eye-witness peace officer to say you committed the crime. They really don't need your statements. 

So, your best bet is to work a deal.  If you are a first time offender, you will qualify for a deferred or diverted sentence.  Talk to a criminal attorney in your area to see if your jurisdiction offers any programs that let you resolve the case without a conviction haunting your record.


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