*** Please note that Utah’s legislature has made major changes to the laws relating to marijuana since the original publication of this page. Contact us directly for up-to-date advice and information. ***
Marijuana charges in Park City, Utah can be punished either at the misdemeanor or felony level, depending on the amount of marijuana, the location of the offense, and whether the charge includes allegations of distribution or the intent to distribute marijuana.
If you are facing charges in Summit County for marijuana possession or other drug crimes, an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney can help you achieve the best results for your case. Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard provides legal services to clients facing prosecution in Park City, Summit County, and throughout Utah. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals in some of the most serious crimes on the books in Utah.
Contact us to schedule an initial consultation.
Penalties for Marijuana Charges in Utah
Marijuana possession charges in Park City or Summit County are often prosecuted in the Summit County Justice Court. A justice court in Utah has jurisdiction to handle only class B and lower misdemeanors. The maximum jail sentence for a class B marijuana possession charge is 180 days. A drug paraphernalia charge (commonly accompanying a drug possession charge) carries the possibility of an additional 180 days.
If a marijuana possession charge is enhanced (for example, with a drug free zone enhancement), the level rises to a class A misdemeanor. This charge must be prosecuted in the district court, and carries a potential of up to one year in jail. Marijuana distribution charges begin at the third-degree felony level (0-5 year prison), but can often be enhanced to the second-degree felony level (1-15 years in prison).
In addition to possible jail or prison time, a drug conviction in Utah can also result in the suspension of the defendant’s driver license. Other collateral consequences of a criminal drug conviction can include loss of professional licensing or other employment consequences.
While the public attitudes toward marijuana use (for medical or recreational purposes) has undergone a dramatic shift in recent years, leading to the legalization of marijuana in some states, Utah law continues to make possession or use of marijuana a criminal offense. If you are facing prosecution for marijuana or other drug charges in Summit County, an experienced criminal defense attorney can make all the difference. Contact us today to learn more.
Possible Defenses for Marijuana Charges in Summit County
A person charged with possession of marijuana or other criminal offenses is entitled to the presumption of innocence. At trial, a prosecutor must convince each member of a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, of a defendant’s guilt before a conviction can be obtained. Issues related to constructive possession can often serve as the basis for a potential defense to marijuana possession charges. Unless a prosecutor can demonstrate that a defendant had the required knowledge and the intent to exercise control over the alleged marijuana, a not guilty verdict may result.
In some cases, the nature of the “green leafy substance” found by police may be drawn into question. Sometimes, an expert may be required to test the substance to determine the true nature of the substance. But in such cases, there may be legitimate questions about whether the defendant knew that the substance was in fact marijuana.
Some cases may involve Constitutional issues that may lead to a successful motion to suppress under either the Fourth Amendment or Fifth Amendment. If such a motion is successful, the court may issue an order prohibiting the prosecution from using evidence obtained in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights. Often, a successful motion to suppress will lead to the dismissal of the case.
Not every marijuana possession case will need to be fought all the way to trial. In many cases, a negotiated resolution may be reached that will meet the needs of the defendant (e.g., staying out of jail or keeping a conviction off his record), without exposing the defendant to the risks associated with a jury trial. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you develop the best strategy for defending your case.
Finding a Utah Criminal Attorney for Park City Marijuana Charges
If you are facing charges for marijuana or other drug-related charges in Park City, Summit County, or elsewhere in Utah, and experienced criminal defense attorney can help give you the best chance of a positive outcome. With a track record that includes not guilty verdicts, dismissals, and appellate reversals on some of the most serious charges on the books in Utah, Stephen Howard has the experience needed to ensure that your rights are protected.
Contact us today to arrange for an initial consultation.