Should my brother get a criminal defense lawyer for a simple marijuana possession charge?

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Should my brother get a criminal defense lawyer for a simple marijuana possession charge?

He was recently charger with a simple marijuana possession less than .5 oz and paraphernalia ticket/fine in NC. His past record is clean. What would you tell your little brother? He is the type that just will pay the fine and plead guilty and get what he gets. In Washington County, NC.

Asked on April 14, 2011 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In NC, marijuana possession of up to a half ounce is a Class 3 misdemeanor which can carry up to 20 days active in the county jail (no matter how small the amount).  Other forms of punishments include fines, community service, unsupervised probation, or supervised probation. The type of penalty imposed depends largely upon any prior criminal record.

Typically first offenders are offered a diversion program. This is an alternative form of sentencing in which the prosecution is deferred upon the successful completion of a special probation (drug education classes, community service, etc), the DA's office will voluntarily dismiss the charge(s).  The "90-96 Program" is the most popular deferred prosecution program.  At that point, the offender is left with a clean criminal record (except for purposes of future criminal proceedings).

However, if your brother is again ever charged with any offense, he will no longer be a first-time offender and therefore diversion will not be an option for him.  That's why hiring an attorney to represent him makes sense.  They can either get the charges dismissed or reduced, thereby leaving the option of diversion open for the future.


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