Philadelphia, PA- If you get busted in Philadelphia for possessing a small amount marijuana you don’t have to worry about criminal charges, a high fine or a criminal record now that Mayor Michael Nutter has signed a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Make no mistake, decriminalization is a far cry from legalizing marijuana, but the bill will keep people from being jailed for possessing small amounts of pot. Under the bill, which was signed today and will go into effect on October 20th, people caught with 30 grams or less of pot will be given a summons to appear in court, and be hit with the $25 fine. If you’re caught smoking marijuana in public you can expect to pay a higher fine of $100, which can be seduced through community service, a provision Mayor Nutter insisted adding to the bill, CBS reported.
The bill now make Philadelphia the largest U.S. city to decriminalize pot, and it’s no doubt decriminalization advocates will begin to fight for law changes on the state level. And maybe, one day, decriminalization on the national level.
Sponsor of the bill, City Councilman Jim Kenney, told CBS, “There’s no more handcuffs, no more bookings, no more criminal record … We have so many people that we are putting in the prison pipeline, and the poverty pipeline, because a criminal record is a debilitating thing.”
Kenney told KYW the bill will save the city about $4 million a year and keep 4,000 people for being charged with a crime.
It’s important to note that for the state of Pennsylvania, Philly excluded, pot possession is still a misdemeanor punishable with a potential 30 day jail term, a $200 fine, participation in a drug abuse course and an arrest on your record.
Even though having small amounts of pot on our person in is no longer criminal, possession of pot paraphernalia is still a misdemeanor. It’s actually a serious charge, carrying a possible jail sentence of one year in jail and $2,500 fine.
Because marijuana is the most widely used recreational drug in the U.S. so untold numbers find themselves in legal trouble over the substance every year. When you are facing any marijuana-related charges you need to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney with a knowledge or drug laws working on your case.
Keeney’s assertion about poverty arrest records are true. In a longitudinal study of youths arrested before age 23, researchers at the University of South Carolina found that by the age of 25, 21 percent were living under the poverty level. Of those who were arrested and convicted, 26 percent lived below the poverty line. Arrestees and convicted criminals also owned homes and attended college at a lower rate than youths who had never been arrested, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The consequences of a criminal record can last a lifetime, making it critical for anyone in this situation to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on their side. An aggressive defense will allow you to seek reduced charges, negotiate for a plea bargain or avoid conviction. Your future is at stake so don’t make the mistake of thinking you can face your criminal charges alone.