In recent years, some have argued that many American's opinions about marijuana use have changed across the country. In fact, a small number of states have taken the step of legalizing the possession of small quantities of marijuana. Despite this shift in attitude, however, a recent study conducted by the American Civil Liberties Union highlighted the continued focus on marijuana possession arrests by law enforcement officers in the United States.
According to the report, about 50 percent of all drug arrests in this country are related to marijuana. In 2010 alone, almost 900,000 marijuana arrests were made in the U.S. In addition, a staggering number of those marijuana arrests are for possession. Between 2001 and 2010, almost 90 percent of the over 8 million marijuana arrests in the United States were for marijuana possession.
Not only are a large number of marijuana possession arrests taking place each year, but theACLU study also identified a racial bias among those who are being arrested for marijuana possession. According to the study, although the number of black and white Americans who use marijuana is similar, black people are almost four times more likely to face marijuana possession charges than white people.
When someone is arrested and charged with marijuana possession in Connecticut, the potential penalties will depend on both the amount of marijuana found in the person's possession and whether he or she has had any previous convictions for marijuana possession.
The penalties are the least severe for those found with less than one-half of an ounce of marijuana. Individuals facing such charges can be fined up to $150 or $500, depending on whether the charge is for a first or subsequent offense.
The penalties increase if someone is charged and convicted of possession between one-half of an ounce and four ounces of marijuana. In such cases, those facing first-time marijuana possession charges can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and be fined up to $1,000. If the individual has previously been convicted of marijuana possession, the jail sentence increases to a maximum of five years and the fine rises to a maximum of $3,000.
The penalties are most severe for those found in possession of over four ounces of marijuana. If convicted, those facing charges for the first time could be sentenced to up to five years in jail and receive a fine of up to $2,000. Individuals convicted of a subsequent offense can receive a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
As these penalties are severe and can have long-term consequences for those charged with marijuana possession, seeking the advice of a skilled criminal defense attorney is a wise choice to ensure a strong defense is established on behalf of the accused.