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A Criminal Defense Law Firm

HOW DID YOU DO THAT? Client Charged with 1700 Pounds of Weed Serves No Prison Time

17 grams is misdemeanor probation. 17 ounces is a felony with some jail-time. 170 pounds sounds like a Cheech and Chong movie. 1700 pounds of marijuana is just crazy and surely sends you to prison – even in Oregon. Right? So check out this police report and read how our client got less than half the sentence of his co-defendant and no time in prison.

Police report

Many factors influence the outcome of a case and the strategies that defense attorney’s use to represent their clients. We always preach that a great defense starts early and stays on course. To that effect we made it clear that our client had no knowledge of the drugs in the other car and was therefore completely innocent of the offense. To rebut this defense, the prosecutor presented the actions of the co-defendant, matching green saran wrap found in our client’s car, an electronic scale, a backpack full of cash and a drug ledger found in our client’s car as evidence demonstrating his participation in the trafficking conspiracy. As to the co-defendant pointing and motioning at our client we argued “so what.” All he did was indicate that he was following our client. Even if our client was the lead car, there is no proof that he had any knowledge of what was in the van following him. The police officers also found an electronic scale and the same green saran wrap used to store the marijuana in our client’s car; however, the car was registered to another person and it did not actually belong to our client, so it is uncertain if those items were our client’s belongings. We argued that this evidence represented a mere “snap-shot” rather than a more thorough time-line that would be necessary to demonstrate where the drugs came from and where they were going and consequently the depth of involvement needed to prove our client’s knowledge and intent to participate in the conspiracy.

Another factor that influenced our defense, and the prosecutor’s actions, was the fact that this case involved marijuana and not a more dangerous drug like methamphetamine, heroine or crack-cocaine. Because it was not a more dangerous drug, the laws and prosecution are much more lenient. For example, if a person is caught in possession of 25 Lbs of cocaine, the mandatory minimum sentence is 25 years in prison. However, 25Lbs of marijuana has a 5 year mandatory prison sentence. And even though marijuana is still very illegal in Georgia, our Judges and Prosecutors watch the news and see what is happening in the rest of the country. Decriminalization and legalization of marijuana have recently become major topics of debate. The most recent development in this debate came last week when Brooklyn, NY District Attorney announced that his office will no longer prosecute offenders with less than 25 grams of pot and no prior criminal record. Almost half the states in the US have some law legalizing marijuana in some form. And of course as of last week you could walk into a store in Washington State and purchase 10 different kinds of weed. Although the fight to legalize marijuana has not made much progress in Georgia, the passage of laws elsewhere has definitely had an effect.

Lastly, we were able to delay prosecution of our client until the Co-Defendant’s case was complete. Especially in State Courts, where resources often run thin, once one co-defendant is convicted of a charge, there is less energy devoted to the remaining co-defendants.

So, at least three factors worked to our advantage. In the absence of a strong case, and considering new attitudes toward marijuana, at least one client charged with 1700 pounds of weed will avoid prison. Ultimately the charge was reduced to possession with intent and we had a very happy client. Even when a case appears open and shut it is always a good idea to hire a lawyer to review the evidence. You never know what kind of defense they might uncover.

Scott Semrau is a Marietta Criminal Defense Lawyer. He accepts all DUI, Misdemeanor and Felony Offenses. The Semrau Law Firm is a Cobb County criminal defense law and personal injury law firm.

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