Interviewer: When people are arrested for possession, does Utah tend to also charge for paraphernalia related to the possession?
With Drug-Related Offenses, Will Utah Try to Compile Other Charges Such as Paraphernalia?
Court: Yes, absolutely. They will definitely charge you with anything that they can. That’s just sort of the name of the game. So, if you have a bag of marijuana, and you have an implement such as a pipe or some papers, you’re going to have a paraphernalia charge added to your possession charge.
Will You Also Be Charged with Intent to Distribute?
Interviewer: Will they also charge you with intent to distribute? Is the state pretty eager to apply that to everybody, or does it make sense when they apply it and make sense when they don’t?
At Times, Intent to Distribute Can Be an Unfounded Charge
Court: Well, that’s probably something that defense attorneys and prosecutors differ on as far as how reasonable it is to add on that charge. I have seen cases where somebody will get charged with possession with intent to distribute, and they just had, for instance, a large amount of marijuana, and they were just totally intending to use it all themselves. But it is a large amount, and if it’s over even a few ounces, then the prosecutor is going to try to say that you were going to distribute it. They will argue that it’s too much to use for one person, even though the average marijuana user might have that much on them at certain times.
So, you will get some cases where they will charge with intent to distribute, and they just don’t have the underlying facts to support it beyond that the person had a large quantity of marijuana on them at the time.
If You Are Charged with Intent to Distribute, It Is a Defensible Issue
However, the good news is that it’s easier battle to win for a defense attorney. It can be easier if the police don’t have any evidence suggesting that you were going to try to distribute it. Evidence could include, for example, if you had scales or bags that would suggest another use, more than just having a large quantity of the drug. Many defense attorneys have been pretty successful at getting the charges reduced by the prosecutor in a plea bargain, or even just winning on that part a trial.
Do the Courts View Defendants Charged With Marijuana-Related Offenses Differently? Can You Expect a More Lenient Sentence?
Interviewer: Do you find that someone facing a marijuana possession doesn’t look as “evil” or “bad” to the courts as someone possessing methamphetamine or heroin?
Court: Yes, marijuana is a really common drug. I think I’ve read that 30% of people in America will use marijuana at one point in their life. That is a much higher percentage than a drug like methamphetamine. I have no idea what the statistics for that are, but you can imagine it’s probably in the single digits percentages.