Friday, May 9, 2014

New Montgomery County Maryland Marijuana Prosecution Policy

I have news which should be of interest to  persons charged with less than 10 g of marijuana and/or possession of marijuana related paraphernalia in Montgomery County. Please bear in mind I am a private attorney. I am in no way related to the prosecutor's office nor am I a spokesperson for the States Attorney for Montgomery County. Nonetheless, I am in court on a regular basis and it appears that the prosecutor's office has taken a new approach to the prosecution of "personal use" marijuana crimes.

It appears that in exchange for a payment of $100 to a general fund the prosecution is dismissing the cases outright. I am not saying this happens in every case. I have no idea what happens if the defendant has prior criminal contacts or convictions in general or even prior marijuana contacts but I can say that I was observing universally that in exchange for a $100 payment made on the trial date the prosecution was entering the cases nolle prosequi (dismissing the cases). In my mind, from a criminal standpoint, that is excellent news to the person charged.  From a medical standpoint, if they have a marijuana problem (in my opinion it is not necessarily a safe drug as many would like to believe) then they are not getting any treatment for the drug use.  From a criminal defense attorney's point of view it substantially reduces one area of income generation. I believe I would be hard-pressed to tell a client to hire me even if the state has a weak case and my client has a very strong defense against the marijuana charge. There is always risk a trial. Why not just pay the $100 and the case gets dropped and the defendant can immediately request expungement of the record.

I will update this post as my knowledge and experience of this situation develops.