When Is Possession of Marijuana a Felony in Wyoming?
You Need Advice from an Experienced Wyoming Drug Defense Lawyer to Help You Avoid Serious Consequences from a Felony Marijuana Charge
Change is on the horizon. More and more states have loosened their marijuana laws. However, Wyoming has not joined the parade just yet. In fact, the possession of marijuana in Wyoming, even in small quantities, could be a felony.
Having a felony amount of marijuana can lead to severe consequences for you and your family. But at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, we believe that you are worth more as a person than the charges you face.
Contact us today to find out how Jeremy Hugus, our experienced and aggressive marijuana felony defense attorney, can help you get back on track.
What Is a Felony Amount of Marijuana in Wyoming?
Possession of marijuana can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The surrounding circumstances dictate when you face a felony marijuana charge rather than a misdemeanor charge.
Under Wyoming’s drug laws, the possession of a small amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor. According to Wyoming Statutes §35-7-1031(c)(i)(A), the possession of a controlled substance in plant form is a misdemeanor as long as the substance weighs less than three ounces. However, any amount over 0.3 grams of hashish or marijuana concentrates is a felony. The maximum penalty for misdemeanor possession of marijuana is one year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000.
Interestingly, ingesting marijuana is also a misdemeanor if you are under the influence. Getting high in Wyoming could send you to jail for up to six months, with a fine of up to $750. Additionally, cultivating or growing marijuana is a misdemeanor. That charge also has a six-month maximum sentence and a $750 maximum fine.
Therefore, if police catch you with an ounce of weed on you, they can only charge you with a misdemeanor. However, they could charge you with a felony if you have prior convictions for drug possession, or they have evidence that you intended to distribute the marijuana in your possession. At that point, you might wonder, Is possession of marijuana a felony?
When Is Possession of Marijuana a Felony?
There are three types of felony marijuana charges in Wyoming. We will take a closer look at each one. Remember in Wyoming, as in many other states, any crime which has a period of incarceration for more than one year is a felony.
Felony Amount of Marijuana
Under Wyoming Statutes §35-7-1031(c)(iii), possession of more than three ounces of marijuana is a felony. Similarly, possessing more than 0.3 grams of concentrated marijuana in liquid form or hashish is a felony.
Having two previous convictions for drug charges could also turn a misdemeanor into a felony. The maximum sentence for a felony conviction based on simple possession is five years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000.
The Marijuana Felony Charge of Selling, or Possession with Intent to Distribute or Deliver
As we dive deeper into this discussion, it would be wise to keep in mind that federal drug laws also apply. This means that you could potentially face a felony marijuana charge in Wyoming federal district court for certain marijuana charges.
But at the state level, growing marijuana in Wyoming is not a felony. However, selling marijuana or possessing it with the intent to deliver is a felony. In those circumstances, the amount of marijuana you possess is irrelevant to the charge. If you sell or have the intent to deliver, the maximum prison term is 10 years. You could also face up to a $10,000 fine.
Specially-trained narcotics officers know what to look for when they investigate someone for marijuana sales. Possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute is a “specific intent crime.” That means the state must prove you had the intent to distribute drugs.
Indicia of Distribution
Drug cops use both direct and circumstantial evidence to build a case for drug dealing. Drug cases usually start with a tip from an informant, but not always. But a good investigator does not rely solely on a tip from an informant to make a case.
The police typically begin by gathering enough evidence to support probable cause and get a search warrant from the court. Then, armed with a warrant, the police search the area to find evidence of drug distribution.
Here are some of the evidence police look for when investigating a drug dealer:
- Observing large amounts of foot traffic around a house that come and go quickly;
- Watching people go for “meaningless rides,” like driving around a block with someone for only a minute and then separating;
- Observing suspected hand-to-hand transactions;
- Finding drugs packaged in amounts commonly sold on the street;
- Finding extra packaging like plastic baggies;
- Discovering digital scales with drug residue;
- Locating drug ledgers;
- Finding large amounts of U.S. currency (especially when there is no explanation for having it);
- Uncovering the presence of firearms or other weapons;
- Finding large amounts of uncut drugs;
- Finding “hides” in houses and cars; and
- Obtaining witness statements, including admissions from the person under investigation.
Each case is different so your case might include some, but not all, of the evidence discussed above.
Defense Strategies When Your Charge Is Felony Possession of Marijuana
Attacking the Police Investigation
You have a right to be free from illegal searches and seizures. U.S. and Wyoming laws have many rules the police have to follow so they don’t violate your rights. Despite all of this information, police continue to violate citizens’ rights every day in this country.
If the police violated your rights, you could file a motion to suppress any evidence they obtained as a result. If the judge finds that your civil rights were transgressed, they may throw out critical evidence. If enough evidence is tossed, the state may have no option but to dismiss your case.
The Prosecutor Can’t Prove Possession
The prosecutor has the burden to prove you guilty of possession beyond a reasonable doubt. But proving possession means proving that you knew that the drugs were where they were found and that you had control over them. And you may have a defense to this allegation.
For instance, if you borrowed a friend’s car and the police found drugs in that car and charged you with possession — you could argue that the car did not belong to you and you had no knowledge that the drugs were even there.
The Prosecutor Can’t Prove Your Intent
Even if the prosecutor can easily show that you possessed marijuana, they still have to prove your intent if they are trying to charge you with a 10-year felony. But to get such a conviction, the state must prove intent. If you successfully argue that you never had the intent to distribute the drugs, you might successfully avoid felony penalties.
Aggressive Plea Bargaining
Aggressive plea negotiations might be the best option for you if the police have gathered strong evidence against you. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can look at the facts of your case and discern what leverage they have to negotiate with the prosecution.
With enough leverage and pressure, your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charges or offer you probation instead of jail.
What Should You Do if You Have a Felony Marijuana Charge?
First, don’t speak to the police — ask for a lawyer right away. Then, you should call Wyoming marijuana felony defense lawyer Jeremy Hugus from Cowboy Country Criminal Defense.
Jeremy and his team are ready to fight for you. He will use all of his experience, wisdom, and skill to give you the best shot at freedom. Contact him today at 307-333-7884 to get started on your best defense!