We received a the question below this paragraph that I have put in quotation marks so our reads can see the way charges are sometimes written on charging documents by police and District Attorney's offices. However, the question translated to English is, "I had some marijuana on me. I was charged with both possession of narcotics and possession of marijuana. Why two charges?"
The actual question from the reader was:
"Why would Purc/Rec of cont subst by unauth per, Int poss of a cont subs by per not reg, and poss of marijuana all be charged at the same time if a person only had marijuana on them?"
The distinction here is based on two statutes First, lets look at the general statute for possession of narcotics in Pennsylvania:
Knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled or counterfeit substance by a person not registered under this act, or a practitioner not registered or licensed by the appropriate State board, unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription order or order of a practitioner, or except as otherwise authorized by this act.
Now lets look at the the statute for possession of marijuana:
Notwithstanding other subsections of this section, (i) the possession of a small amount of marihuana only for personal use; (ii) the possession of a small amount of marihuana with the intent to distribute it but not to sell it; or (iii) the distribution of a small amount of marihuana but not for sale. For purposes of this subsection, thirty (30) grams of marihuana or eight (8) grams of hashish shall be considered a small amount of marihuana.
The real answer lies in strategy, but it is a hollow action by the District Attorney because the weight of the pot is what truly controls this analysis.
At the time of the arrest, if the defendant only has marijuana on them, the police officer should be able to make a quick weigh of the pot. If it comes back as less than 30 grams, then only possession of marijuana should be charged. If the amount of marijuana is greater than 30 grams, general possession should be charged.
The only reason everything would be charged is if the arresting officer has no ability to weigh the weed. If this is the case, everything should be charged, and after the marijuana is weighed, the District Attorney should only proceed on the relevant offense. If the District Attorney refuses to do this, then your lawyer can file a motion to quash the inappropriate bill or file a a writ of habeas corpus in regard to the inappropriate bill.
This question was published today for all of our readers contemplating a move to Seattle or Boulder.