As an attorney I can’t say I was shocked, but definitely surprised, at the news I heard today. Late Tuesday afternoon, in a 7-6 vote, the Memphis City Council approved a new city ordinance decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. As you can imagine this vote will remain a hot topic for many months to come, with more than a few issues left to be ironed out.
In short, the new ordinance declares that anyone found to have a half-ounce or less of marijuana can be issued a citation to appear in City Court rather than a misdemeanor citation to appear in General Sessions Criminal Court. What the ordinance is doing is drastically changing the punishment for marijuana possession (up to a certain amount).
What has changed?
If you were previously found to possess marijuana you would be given a misdemeanor citation and ordered to appear in General Sessions Criminal Court. The offender would then have to hire a lawyer while facing a crime that is considered a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by a minimum $250 fine and up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Under the newly passed ordinance, marijuana possession of up to a half-ounce now gives officers the option to write a City Court Citation wherein the offender will appear in Memphis City Court. This will be the same courtrooms you would appear in when you receive a speeding and/or traffic ticket. The new punishment is now a fine of $50 or community service. Upon appearing in City Court offenders could choose 10 hours of community service for the first offense, with 10 more hours per offense up to 40 hours total.
Alternatively, officers can also opt to not charge the individual at all. Representatives with the Memphis Police Department will report quarterly to the City Council to explain who was charged and what type of citation the individual was given.
Legal? Not exactly.
Taking into account the new city ordinances, it does not make marijuana possession legal, it merely makes the punishment for this non-violent offense much less severe. As an attorney, I am glad to see this ordinance pass because it will hopefully keep crimes off an offender’s record that could negatively affect their future.
This is a step in the right direction of decriminalizing a victimless offense, but it will certainly be interesting to see the reports down the road on how many citations were issued, or not, and to whom the citations were given.
Contact your Memphis attorneys
If you are charged with a crime, or given a citation for marijuana possession under the new ordinance, it is still best to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to understand your rights and options.
If you, a friend, or relative has been charged with a crime, time is of the essence; please call The Chiozza Law Firm immediately to discuss your case. Facing criminal charges is an intimidating, and sometimes terrifying experience. A criminal conviction will affect your career, your ability to get a job, and your reputation for the rest of your life. You need a criminal defense team that will effectively and aggressively defend you.
We are committed to providing the best defense possible. Dedication to our clients is the touchstone of our practice philosophy, and we defend our clients’ rights, freedoms, and best interests both in and out of the courtroom.
As a Tennessee criminal defense team, we understand how to defend every type of criminal case. We understand how the prosecution prepares their cases for trial, how the prosecution gathers their evidence, and how they will present their evidence in court. This is important to understand because we counter this in developing your defense.
Contact us via email or phone at 901-526-9494, or visit Your901Law.com, and we will discuss your legal matter matter in a confidential manner while do our best to quote you a reasonable fee arrangement should you choose our representation.