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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  16 yrs. of trial experience
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my grandson,age 20, has been charged with possession of marijuana

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my grandson,age 20, has been charged with possession of marijuana in Illinois. He is a student and has always lived in MA.
The amount he had in his possession was less than what is illegal in MA. They are fining him over 2K, He does not have the money nor do his parents (they are heavily in debt to keep him and a sister in college. I have been retired for over ten years and live on a fixed income. What recourse does my grandson have?
Thanks for the chance to help. I am an attorney with over 12 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

Can you give some context...who is fining him? The state?

And how did this "fine" come about? Did he go to a criminal trial already?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your reply.


He is being fined by the State of Illinois. Notification via postal mail; no trial yet. If he pays the fine - there is no trial (we assume). If he wants to appeal, there's is likely a trial in Illinois.


We are unsure of our legal rights and possible course of action.


I look forward to your reponse. mentioned IL in the question...but then I saw you say:

The amount he had in his possession was less than what is illegal in MA.

SO I assume he lives in MA but received this ticket in IL??
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

That is correct. He is a Massachusetts resident. In the Commonewalth of Mass., a small quantity is legal. My grandson may have been operating on this premise even though he was in Illinois.



Thank you

And sorry for the confusion. Now I understand.

And small point, Marijuana is technically not legal in MA. The state has "decriminalized" small amounts (less than one ounce). It is still illegal, in the same way that driving over the speed limit is illegal. But it is no longer a criminal offense.

Now, on to the question.

IL has significantly more stringent laws on possession of marijuana. It is a crime (misdemeanor) to possess 30g or less of Marijuana. 30g is a bit over 1 ounce.

Possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term of up to 30 days.

Possession of between 2.5 - 10 grams of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months imprisonment.

Possession of between 10 - 30 grams of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense, which is punishable by a jail term of up to 1 year.

So this is a criminal offense.

And if he "pays the fine" he will have a criminal conviction.

So what are the options?

He can "pay the fine" if he likes...but as I mention, that would result in a conviction. It is a misdemeanor (not a felony) but it would likely show up on future "background" checks unless or until he has the arrest/conviction "sealed" (a separate process he would likely be eligible for).

Or he can go to court and "plea his case" do not get into the specifics of the conduct that led to the may be that there are grounds to contest the fact of the arrest and perhaps he could take this to court and force the government to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Or to have a lawyer try and negotiate a "plea agreement" on his behalf.

That is a cost benefit analysis he will have to make. Is it worth the time/expense to travel back to IL to resolve this.

If he does nothing, then the state will issue a warrant for his arrest.

So he will want to either pay the fine, or arrange to travel to IL to try and resolve this matter directly.

It is important to understand that the fact that he thought the law in IL was the same as the law in MA is no defense. They can still convict him even though he was mistaken about the law.

P. Simmons and 10 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you very much for your prompt reply on a Saturday morning. This information substaniates what I thought to be the case.
Welcome. And best of luck with this mess!