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NY Penal Law § 221.15: Criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree

June 25, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

NY Penal Law § 221.15: Criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree

In the New York Penal Code, criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree is one of the two misdemeanor possession of marihuana charges. According to New York Penal Code § 221.15, you can be prosecuted on hte charge of fourth degree criminal possession of marihuana if:


  • you had marihuana in your possession,
  • you possessed the marihuana so knowingly and unlawfully, and
  • the weight of the marihuana was more than two ounces.


It is important that you note that if you are found to be in a vehicle that contains marihuana, under New York Penal code § 220.25, that would be enough evidence to demonstrate that you possessed the marihuana. The pmr exception to this general rule is if the drugs are found on the person of another person in the vehicle. Aslo, if marihuana is in a room in open view, and you are in close proximity to the marihuana, the authorities will assume that you and whoever else is nearby are in possession of that marihuana.


For Example

The police witnessed a car that was moving erratically. It was drifting from lane to lane at a very slow rate. The officer suspected that the driver might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. On that suspicion, the officer pulled the drivere over. When searching the vehicle, the officer discovered a baggie of marihuana in the glove compartment of the car. The police lab reported that the marihuana found weighed 7 ounces. In this case, the driver could be prosecuted for criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree on the basis of the quantity of marihuana found in the vehicle.


Offenses that are Related

Criminal sale of marihuana in the fourth degree: New York Penal Code § 221.40

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 220.31

Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the possession degree: New York Penal Code § 220.21


Possible Defenses

Should you get charged with criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree, you could potentially challenge the charge on the basis of the actual weight of the marihuana. If the marihuana weighed less than 2 ounces, then the prosecutor would not be able to sustain a charge of criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth second degree.


An alternative response to a criminal possession of marihuana charge is to argue that the search that uncovered the marihuana was unlawful. Pursuant to the law, in order to conduct a search, whether it is a search of your car, apartment or office, the police must demonstrate that they had probable cause to do so. If it is determined that the search was unlawful, anything which the search produced, including illicit drugs, would be inadmissible in court and your case would likely be dismissed.



Since criminal possession of marihuana in the fourth degree is classified as a class A misdemeanor, if convicted, you could be sentenced to up to 1 year in jail.  Your sentence may also include 3 years of probation. If you are sentenced to probation, there will be a set of rules that you will be obligated to follow, including consistently reporting to your probation officer and staying away from known criminals. If you violate the probation by neglecting to follow the rules, your probation may be revoked and you may be sent to jail.


For the purpose of determining your sentence, the judge will take several factors into consideration.  These factors include the crime committed, the details of the crime, your criminal history and your personal background. If you are a first time offender, then your sentence will be a lot less severe than if you have a criminal history.




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