If you’ve been charged with pot possession in or around Polk County, Iowa, we can help out as your Iowa marijuana possession lawyers.
Marijuana possession is possibly the most common charge we see — it seems like Iowa’s population has rejected the Reefer Madness mentality of Anslinger and progeny. Nonetheless, our legislature is still mired in a mindset that supports alcohol, the white man’s drug, but criminalizes marijuana — a comparatively benign intoxicant and medication — which used to be associated with black jazz musicians and Mexican soldiers. Iowa and the feds both classify marijuana as a “Schedule 1 intoxicant,” meaning that they claim it has a “high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use,” stubbornly overlooking the plentiful data that contradict both of these claims.
What I’m saying is that marijuana was criminalized for really awful, racist reasons. I’m also saying is that the government has no business masquerading as “the land of the free” while denying your freedom to legally smoke pot on the basis of baseless factual claims and “because I said so” logic.
And I’m also saying that, at least for now, there’s nothing stopping the state from charging you with criminal possession of marijuana. If you’re accused of having a marijuana, call a defense lawyer and to talk about your next steps.
First Offense Marijuana Possession is a Serious Misdemeanor
What does this mean?
For an overview of misdemeanor stuff, click here, but here are the basics:
For a charge of possession of marijuana, first offense, Iowa Code 124.401(5) provides that the punishment of a fine of up to $1000 and/or up to 6 months of jail time. A 35% surcharge means you’ll end up paying up to $1350 to the court. Additionally, Iowa Code 911.3 demands a “law enforcement initiative surcharge” of another $125 if you’re found guilty or accept a deferred judgment, bringing your total to up to $1475.
For a charge of possession of marijuana, second offense, Iowa Code 124.401(5) refers you on over to Iowa Code 903.1, which provides that you’ll be subjected to a fine of between $315 and $1875. That fine will be subjected to a 35% surcharge, per Iowa Code 911.1, because the government needs more of your money to be able to properly fund their arrests and prosecutions of more people. That surcharge will bring the actual total to the fine-monies the court demands to $425.25 – $2531.25. The law enforcement initiative surcharge ups this to $450.25 – $2656.25.
If you’re facing a charge of possession of marijuana, third offense, Iowa’s gonna go ahead and call that an aggravated misdemeanor and demand that you pay a fine of $625 – $6250 (plus surcharges) and spend up to two years in jail because, you know, you’re clearly a threat to society, you dangerous, dangerous pot smoker. You needed a marijuana possession lawyer two or more charges ago and you need one now.
(Every marijuana possession charge after the third one is punished the same way as a third offense.)
(These charges are assuming that you don’t get convicted of possession of a controlled substance other than marijuana. If you have prior possession convictions of not-marijuana or convictions for violating tax stamp laws, your charges are more serious than they otherwise might have been.)
If You’re Arrested for Marijuana Possession
Stop! Don’t talk! Don’t admit to anything. The police might tell you that it’ll be easier for you if you cooperate. The police can and will lie to you. They want you to admit to the crime and make their jobs easier. They do not want you to invoke your right to have a marijuana possession lawyer present.
If the police ask you if they can search you, your car, or your home, tell them that you don’t consent to any searches. If they get a warrant or force you to let them search anyway, fine, okay, but do not consent.
Tell the police that you want to leave and ask if you’re free to go. If they tell you you can go, go. If they tell you that you can’t go, clarify. Ask them — does that mean that I’m under arrest?
If you are arrested, tell them (1) “I want to remain silent” and (2) “I don’t want to answer any questions without my attorney present.” After that, don’t talk!
Call a marijuana possession lawyer soon as you can to discuss your arrest and what your next steps are.
What to Expect if You’ve Been Charged with Possession of Marijuana in Iowa
If you’re charged just with possession, your pot possession case will follow the same format as most criminal charges in Iowa do. You can click here for an overview of that.
You can expect that the court will ask you to do a substance abuse evaluation.
How Your Marijuana Possession Lawyer Can Help
The first thing we’ll do is sit down together and review your charges.
Step 1: Dismissal
Our first priority is seeing how and whether we can make your charges go away entirely. We’ll review the evidence and your statements to determine whether there’s a possibility or probability that you were improperly searched or otherwise had your rights violated. If there’s a way to get evidence suppressed in your case, it’s possible that the State won’t have enough left to get you convicted and may drop the charges.
Step 2: Plea Bargain Options
If there isn’t a viable way to get your charges dismissed, we’ll go over the state’s plea bargain options with you. The State isn’t obligated to offer you a plea bargain, but they usually will. Very few cases go to trial. Trials are time-consuming and expensive — for the State and for you — and many people prefer to try to resolve things without the stress of a trial.
If you’re eligible for a deferred judgment, this might be an option for your marijuana possession charge.
A deferred judgment won’t show up on basic criminal background checks but it will show up in the NCIS database. If an employer requests a waiver when you apply for a job, they will be able to find out about this. If that’s something that’s a problem for you, it’s definitely something you should tell your marijuana possession attorney about while you’re weighing your options.
Step 3: Trial
You have a right to a trial. You are the only one who can decide whether or not to go to trial. We can give you guidance on whether or not trial seems like a good option for your case, but no attorney can guarantee any particular outcome, and the final decision about whether or not to go to trial is yours.
A lot of people seem concerned that if they don’t accept a plea bargain, the sentence that they’ll face if convicted at trial will be worse. This isn’t necessarily true. In sentencing, the judge can accept the State’s and defendant’s plea agreement, if one exists, but they can freely disregard the agreement and impse whatever sentence (within legal limits) they see fit.
If you go to trial and are convicted, we still have an opportunity to argue sentencing. It’s completely possible that even if you go to trial and are convicted, the sentence you ultimately receive will be better than the plea bargain the prosecutor offered. Because of this, if trial is financially accessible to you and if a viable route to reasonable doubt exists, I’m likely to encourage trial.
If a prosecutor offers to recommend a sentence that a judge would likely be receptive to even if you were convicted at trial, that isn’t a great incentive to give up your chance to be acquitted and found Not Guilty.
At trial, you have a constitutional right to a presumption of innocence. The state will put forth the evidence it has about you and we will do what we can to present the jury a story that embraces all of the evidence and still leaves room for reasonable doubt about whether or not you committed the charged offense.
At the conclusion of the trial, you will be found “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” (trials don’t determine whether or not you’re innocent, just whether or not the state can prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.)
If you are found Guilty, then the judge will sentence you.
If you are found Not Guilty, you go home.
Feel free to give us a call about your marijuana possession charges in Polk County, IA, and surrounding areas. This embraces Ankeny, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Ames, Johnston, Waukee, Indianola, etc., in and around Polk County, Iowa. (We can’t help you with your charges in Polk County, Florida.)
If you’ve been charged with a crime in Iowa and you’d like guidance about what steps to take next and whether you need a marijuana possession lawyer, call (515) 491 6128, click “chat now” on any page on this website, or go to the “Contact Us” page to send us an email.
This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.