For the better half of the 20th century, marijuana was officially considered a dangerous controlled substance in the United States. Both the federal government and the State of Nebraska have long classified marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. Despite a powerful, and largely effective, legalization movement across the nation, the possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana remains illegal in Nebraska. If you were caught in possession of a quantity of marijuana, you may be concerned that you will be charged with dealing instead of just possession. A marijuana defense attorney discusses the difference between possession and more serious charges, such as dealing, in Nebraska.
Nebraska’s Controlled Substance Laws
Nebraska Revised Statute 28-416 governs prohibited acts involving controlled substances, stating in subsection (1):
(1)Except as authorized by the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, it shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally: (a) To manufacture, distribute, deliver, dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, deliver, or dispense a controlled substance; or (b) to create, distribute, or possess with intent to distribute a counterfeit controlled substance.
That statute makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute, deliver, dispense and possess with intent any controlled substance. Subsection (3) addresses the simple possession of any controlled substance except marijuana.
Further down in the statute is where the possession of marijuana is prohibited as follows:
(11) Any person knowingly or intentionally possessing marijuana weighing more than one ounce but not more than one pound shall be guilty of a Class III misdemeanor.
(12) Any person knowingly or intentionally possessing marijuana weighing more than one pound shall be guilty of a Class IV felony.
(13) Any person knowingly or intentionally possessing marijuana weighing one ounce or less or any substance containing a quantifiable amount of the substances, chemicals, or compounds described, defined, or delineated in subdivision (c)(25) of Schedule I of section 28-405 shall:
(a) For the first offense, be guilty of an infraction, receive a citation, be fined three hundred dollars, and be assigned to attend a course as prescribed in section 29-433 if the judge determines that attending such course is in the best interest of the individual defendant;
(b) For the second offense, be guilty of a Class IV misdemeanor, receive a citation, and be fined four hundred dollars and may be imprisoned not to exceed five days; and
(c) For the third and all subsequent offenses, be guilty of a Class IIIA misdemeanor, receive a citation, be fined five hundred dollars, and be imprisoned not to exceed seven days.
Possession or Distribution?
The statute does not create a clear line between possession and other, more serious, offenses such as distribution of marijuana. When a defendant is arrested, the arresting officer will submit a report to the prosecuting attorney’s office. That office then makes the decision what charges, if any, will officially be filed against the individual. Unless it is a case where an undercover police officer actually purchased marijuana from the individual, several factors will likely be considered when deciding whether to charge a defendant with more than just possession of marijuana, including:
- The quantity – while it is true that a larger quantity makes dealing more likely, an experienced defense attorney can also make the argument that the defendant had the means (if applicable) to purchase the marijuana for personal use in a large quantity to avoid the need to make numerous smaller purchases.
- How the marijuana was stored – was it all kept in one large Ziploc baggie or was it divided up for sale in numerus smaller baggies?
- The presence of “tools of the trade” – did the police find scales? Numerous boxes of baggies or balloons? If so, it tends to indicate that the defendant was dealing.
- The presence of records – written records indicating money owed can be used as evidence of dealing.
Contact a Marijuana Defense Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a marijuana related criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, do not hesitate to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.