New rules surrounding marijuana in New York

New York residents may be surprised to hear that the district attorney in Brooklyn is planning to dismiss the majority of marijuana possession charges that land on his desk. He plans to implement the informal policy change immediately. Individuals with up two ounces of marijuana on their person, including those carrying their weed “in open view,” would get a pass.

In a recently released statement, the DA said that the sheer number of minor pot busts strains the criminal justice system and diverts resources from other, more serious, crimes. He also noted that the toll is high on offenders, who may find themselves unemployable in their chosen field because of a simple possession charge. Others may have to vacate public housing and be forced into homelessness.

However, his views do not align with those of the New York City Police Commissioner, who initiated the “broken windows” theory, which basically is interpreted as remaining vigilant about arresting offenders for low-level criminal acts and violations helps to maintain an atmosphere of law and order that is a deterrent to violent and more serious illegal acts.

The Commissioner offered his rebuttal, stating that the prosecutorial discretion remained with the DA, but policing procedures will remain the same in Brooklyn as elsewhere in the city and, “[a]ccordingly, the Kings County policy change will not result in any changes in the policies and procedures of the NYPD.”

There will, however, be exceptions to the DA’s leniency. Those smoking pot around children or out in public, dealers, anyone with an open arrest warrant and violent and repeat offenders will still be prosecuted by his office.

Wherever you may be in New York City, if you get busted on drug charges, it can be a nightmare. Exercising your right to remain silent and requesting to speak to your attorney remains your best option to avoid self-incrimination.

Source: Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Marijuana: Brooklyn DA and New York police at odds on minor crimes," Harry Bruinius, July 9, 2014

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