With marijuana legalization sweeping the country, it may seem like marijuana is not a big deal. Unfortunately, in Utah, possession of marijuana is still kind of a big deal. At the very least it can cause an annoying period of your life where you'll have to attend court. At its worst it could mean you can't legally drive for 6 months. Regardless of where you're from or where you live, possession of marijuana in Utah is almost always illegal. The small exceptions to that rule are the new law allowing for medical marijuana in Utah. Medical marijuana use in Utah is still very new and the details have not all been hammered out. So the safest thing to do is not possess marijuana right now in Utah.
Penalties of Marijuana Possession
In most marijuana cases a convicted individual will be facing a fine of about $700. Along with the fine the court will likely order a substance abuse evaluation and treatment. Finally, the court may impose a probationary term on you for a period of usually at least 12 months.
This probation could possibly be privately supervised or supervised by the court. Private probation means you pay a company every month to be your probation provider. They more or less babysit you and make sure you do all the things the court told you to do. Private probation is much less intrusive than probation through a government agency like Adult Probation and Parole, however it can still be a nuisance. Court probation or informal/good behavior probation, simply means don't get into any more trouble for the probation period. That means follow the rules the judge set for you and don't commit any more crimes. If you have no criminal history then it is possible you could get a plea in abeyance on your case.
Drivers License Consequences
In Utah if you are convicted of possession of marijuana then the Utah Drivers License Division (DLD) will automatically suspend your license. This license suspension is for 6 months and there are no options for a provisional license or anything like that. Basically this means that if you are guilty of possession then you will not be able to legally drive. If you do drive and an officer pulls you over then you will be facing a new criminal charge, driving on a suspended license. That new charge will also likely violate your probation for the marijuana charge thus creating additional penalties. Finally, if you receive a conviction for driving on a suspended license your license could then be suspended again for another 6 months. Clearly this is a vicious cycle that you should do everything in your power to avoid.
One way to avoid this cycle is through a plea in abeyance. A plea in abeyance does not trigger the drivers license suspension.
While Marijuana is becoming legal elsewhere it is still largely illegal in Utah and possession of marijuana charges could mean serious penalties.
Enhanceability of Marijuana Charges
Marijuana possession is an enhaceable offense. What that means is that if you have a marijuana conviction and then receive new marijuana charges, those new charges could be increased because of your previous conviction. It is up to the prosecutor whether or not they actually impose this enhanceability but its important to understand because things could escalate and eventually end in jail time if you continue to rack up marijuana charges.
Utah Possession of Marijuana Attorney
Even though most people don't think marijuana is that bad it is still a criminal offense you should not take lightly. Having a criminal defense attorney by your side for a marijuana charge can greatly alter the outcome of your case. Due to everything that's at stake in these types of cases I would suggest you call me to talk about your specific case. I offer free consultations and would be happy to help you understand your options.