If you are caught growing marijuana in Maine, you will be charged with cultivating marijuana in Maine. Despite changing attitudes towards marijuana, and despite the recent successes of local ordinances in Portland, Maine, and South Portland, Maine, the substance remains an illegal drug in Maine. Without a medical marijuana prescription card, growing marijuana plants can result in a criminal charge for Cultivating Marijuana. Depending upon the number of plants discovered you may be facing severe fines and jail time. The offenses range from a class E misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of a 180 days of jail time and a fine of up to $1000 to a class A felony that has a maximum penalty of 30 years incarceration and a find of up to $50,000. If you are looking to fight a charge of cultivating marijuana in Maine, you likely have some questions and are looking to see if it is possible to avoid a conviction.
Just to share with you my experience, I have handled and achieved successful resolutions to many cultivating marijuana charges all across Maine. When facing a cultivating marijuana in Maine offense, above all, the goal is to avoid the conviction. The State has an expressed interest in enforcing the law against illegal marijuana grows, because they often are used to support larger scale drug trafficking operations. Furthermore, without a lawyer, the District Attorney will not be willing to negotiate with you, due to the fact that the DA believes they can get a conviction at trial. Some District Attorneys offices in Maine have well-known “no negotiation” policies for Drug cases, leaving the Defendant with a stark choice: take a bad deal or go to trial and lose. Therefore, an experienced Maine drug defense lawyer is needed to fight for your rights at court.
If you or someone you know is facing a charge of cultivating marijuana in Maine, I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free and confidential legal consultation with me, an experienced Maine drug defense attorney. The goal of the discussion is to answer your questions and place your mind at ease. As we talk about the details of your offense at the free consultation, one of things we will go over is drawing a line in the sand. On our side of the line is your future how you want it to be. On the other side of the line is the State of Maine, with their charges, fines and jail time. Also the repercussions a felony or misdemeanor conviction will have on your ability to support your family, maintain a profession, and stay out of jail.
As your lawyer, we will do everything in our power to stop them from crossing that line and taking your desired future. We will fight for you using all of our passion, conviction and skill.
When you are fighting a cultivating Marijuana in Maine Offense, you should be aware of a few things. Maine has a complex and nuanced legal perspective towards marijuana, but remains a Schedule Z illegal drug. Given my decade of experience, this article is to help answer some of your questions about fighting the cultivating marijuana in Maine charges and how a Maine criminal defense attorney can help defend you against the charge:
- How can a Maine drug defense attorney help fight charges of cultivating Marijuana in Maine?
- What to expect without a lawyer representing you.
- How is a charge of cultivating marijuana in Maine proven?
- What are the fines and penalties if convicted of a cultivating marijuana in Maine Offense?
- What are some possible outcomes for of a cultivating Marijuana in Maine charge?
- What is the Maine Court Process for handling allegations of cultivating Marijuana?
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help fight charges of cultivating Marijuana in Maine
After being arrested for and charged with cultivating marijuana in Maine, you need to find the right criminal defense attorney to handle your case. Cultivating Marijuana charges are complex and can result in serious penalties. A criminal defense attorney can review with you the specifics of the case and help determine a legal strategy to mount a defense to the charges. To help you understand how a criminal defense lawyer can advocate for you, here are some of the ways in which a criminal defense lawyer can help you fight a criminal charge of Cultivating Marijuana in Maine:
- If you are a medical marijuana patient or caregiver, and you are growing the legal number of plants, the charge for Cultivation can get thrown out. With a medical marijuana prescription card, the State permits growing up to five (5) marijuana plants for personal use. If you are a licensed caregiver, in addition to the five plants for your personal use, you can grow marijuana on behalf of the individuals for whom you are licensed to grow marijuana.
- A criminal defense lawyer can challenge the State’s evidence. Typically marijuana grows are well concealed from the public. When they are found by law enforcement, it is usually the result of a search based off of an informant’s tip. The best practice is for law enforcement to obtain a warrant for the search. If there was a search done without a warrant, your rights may have been violated. If a warrant was secured, some issues a criminal defense attorney should look into is whether there was adequate probable case for the warrant. These are just a few possible issues of many.
- A criminal defense lawyer can advocate aggressively for your rights. As a criminal defendant, you have the right to a trial, whether a trial in front of a judge or a trial in front of a jury. A criminal defense attorney can exploit you right to cross examine your accuser. Your criminal defense lawyer can advocate for your interests both before trial by negotiating a favorable resolution with the District Attorney and in a trial cross-examining the State’s witnesses.
What to expect without a lawyer representing you
Often I hear from my clients, that they just simply did not know what to do. An accused may feel that they can work things out with the District Attorney or the Judge, and go to the arraignment date alone. Unfortunately this is often where the accused learn how “by the book” the legal system can be. The District Attorney is not interested in “understanding” your circumstances. In the legal system it is not the Judge’s role to negotiate. Most unrepresented defendants leave the arraignment more worried and concerned, as often the District Attorney will relay the State’s “best” offer; which is for the accused to plead guilty as charged and be sentenced to fines, jail and probation.
How is the charge of cultivating marijuana in Maine proven?
If you have been caught growing marijuana plants and do not have a medical marijuana license, you are considered to be violating the law for cultivating marijuana in Maine. Even if you do have a prescription or are a caregiver, there are strict regulations you must follow, and failure to do so can result in cultivating charges as well. It is the state’s responsibility to prove these charges. The law for cultivating marijuana in Maine is 17-A M.R.S.A. §1117. Let’s look at the facts of the case that the state will need to prove.
- A person intentionally or knowingly grows or cultivates Marijuana by a certain number of plants.
Let’s examine closely the specifics of this statement.
Intentionally or knowingly
Cultivating Marijuan in Main has a state of mind element to the law. The charge takes the accused’s state of mind into consideration whether they were “intentionally or knowingly” growing the marijuana plants. The words intentionally and knowingly have specific meanings in the courts and legal terminology.
- Intentionally: An individual acts intentionally when they are aware of their actions and aware of the circumstances which exist. The exact legal definition is a person acts intentionally with respect to a result of the person’s conduct when it is the person’s conscious objective to cause such a result.
- Knowingly: An individual acts knowingly with respect to the outcome that the individuals’ conduct will cause such a result.
The key take away point is that the state of mind of the accused is important with proving this charge. It is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove that the accused acted with purpose and was not unaware of the circumstances.
Number of plants being grown
- 500 or more plants, Class B felony
- 100 – 499 plants, Class C felony
- 6 – 99 plants, Class D misdemeanor
- 5 plants or fewer, Class E misdemeanor
Aggravated Cultivating Marijuana
When the growing of marijuana plants is accompanied by the presence of certain aggravating factors, then the charge can be for Aggravated Cultivation of Marijuana 17-A M.R.S.A. §1105-D. Aggravating factors are circumstances or situations which existed when the charge was placed upon the accused. For cultivating marijuana in Maine, the aggravating factors are:
- A prior criminal record of felony convictions
- Possession of a firearm while cultivating marijuana
- Cultivating marijuana plants with a minor (under 18)
- Cultivating marijuana plants within 1000 feet of a school
The severity of the Aggravated Cultivating Marijuana charge depends on the number of plants being grown:
- 500 plants or more, Class A felony
- 100 – 499 plants, Class B felony
- 6 – 99 plants, Class C felony
- 5 plants or fewer, Class D misdemeanor
Penalties Cultivating Marijuana in Maine
- Class E misdemeanor. $1000.00 fine, six months jail time.
- Class D misdemeanor. $2000.00 fine, 364 days jail time.
- Class C felony. $5,000.00 fine, 5 years jail time.
- Class B felony. $20,000.00 fine, 10 years jail time.
- Class A felony. $50,000.00 fine, 30 years jail time.
An added concern is that if it can be determined that the accused used their car or truck to facilitate the crimer, the BMV can suspend the accused’s driver’s license for up to five (5) years once convicted of the crime. Furthermore, the State can add a civil forfeiture count to take said vehicle away from you.
Outcomes for Cultivating Marijuana
With the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer, the following could be possible outcomes to a Cultivating Marijuana case:
Plead guilty to a lesser charge
Generally, you do not want to plead guilty to any charge without knowing and understanding fully the collateral consequences. However, in some instances you might be able to plead guilty to a less serious charge with less severe penalties. For example, a misdemeanor charge for Cultivating Marijuana might be able to be dismissed in favor of pleading guilty to Possession of Marijuana, or even to admit to a civil violation for marijuana possession, in which there would be a fine only.
A deferred disposition is when the State accepts a guilty plea, and then sentencing is postponed usually for one year. If the defendant exhibits good behavior, and if the defendant meets any other requirements, then the defendant would get the benefit of the plea deal. Common benefits include having the charge dismissed, pleading a lesser charge, or an unconditional discharge. A deferred disposition also has a potential downside. If the defendant does not meet their requirements, or if they get into criminal trouble during their deferred disposition, then the District Attorney can withdraw the plea deal. If there is no plea deal, then you get convicted and sentenced.
Going to Trial
Being Found Innocent
After a trial, the judge or jury may find the defendant Not Guilty of the criminal charge. In this case, it would be as though the charge never happened.
Being Found Guilty
After a trial, the judge or jury may find the defendant Guilty of the criminal charge. In this case, the defendant would be convicted and sentenced of the charge.
Hung Jury/ Mistrial
After a trial, and if the jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision, then a mistrial would be declared by the presiding judge or justice. In this case, a new trial would be necessary.
Why is the public defender not the right choice?
Across the US, almost 90 percent of defendants when faced with criminal prosecution remain either unrepresented or choose to rely upon the services of the public defender’s office to manage their case. There is overwhelming statistical evidence that private attorneys achieve lower penalties and great probabilities that the charge will be dropped or reduced. Unfortunately cost is often the key reason the accused never even considers the possibilities of hiring a private defense attorney. The question to consider is give the risk to your future and freedom, is the money you save today worth the risk?
I know how to defend clients against cultivating marijuana in Maine charges. If needed, I have experience as a trail lawyer and can fight for you in Court. If you choose to hire the Nielsen group, you are more than another case to us. We will put your interests first and in the end, wouldn’t you agree that is more valuable?
What can I expect my first day at court?
If you are charged with cultivating marijuana in Maine, you will be arrested and depending of the severity of the charge need to have bail set. If you can make bail then you will be assigned a court date for your initial appearance. If you cannot make bail, then you will be held in Jail until you can be brought before the Judge for your initial appearance, most often within 48 hours. At this initial appearance, the Judge will read the charges and assure you understand them. The Judge will not request your plea if you are facing a felony. If bail needs to be readdressed, the court will evaluate that as well at this initial apprearance.
Court Process for Cultivating Marijuana in Maine
Here is the court process for a Cultivating Marijuana charge in Maine at the Unified Criminal Docket.
Initial Appearance and/or Arraignment
Depending on whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor, your first court date would be either an Initial Appearance or an Arraignment. If your charge for Cultivating Marijuana is a felony, then your first court date would be an initial appearance. In a felony case, the State is required to indict you by a grand jury before you can be arraigned.
If you charge for Cultivating Marijuana is a misdemeanor, then your first court date would be an Arraignment. By Arraignment the discovery materials (police reports, etc) are made available.
After Arraignment, your next court date at the Unified Criminal Docket is a Dispositional Conference. The purpose of a Dispositional Conference is for criminal defense counsel and the District Attorney to negotiate a potential resolution to the case. If no acceptable resolution is arrived at during the Dispositional Conference, then your case would progress towards pretrial motions and a trial.
Pretrial Motion Hearing
If the discovery shows that certain evidence could have been obtained in violation of your constitutional rights, then your criminal defense lawyer would file an appropriate pretrial motion, such as a Motion to Suppress. The purpose of a Pretrial Motion Hearing is to resolve any issues pertaining to the evidence before heading to trial.
A trial is a person’s very public day in court. Often, defendants face the question whether to have a jury trial or a trial in front of a judge. The judge decides cases based on the letter of the law. However, the jury often can see thing from a Defendants point of view and put themselves in your shoes and reach “reasonable doubt”.
The outcome of the trial is the defendant is found guilty or not guilty by the fact finder. When you have a strong legal advocate, you have a better chance of resolving the charges before ever reaching a trial.
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