Memphis, Tennessee area courts have some of the busiest criminal dockets in the country, handling over 100,000 criminal cases a year.  Many of these cases are for the misdemeanor offense of marijuana possession.  In Memphis, misdemeanor marijuana possession is a Class A misdemeanor punishable up to 11 months and 29 days.  There is also a $250 fine for first offenses, a $500 fine for second offenses, and a $1000 fine for third or more offenses. If you’re arrested or cited for marijuana possession in Memphis, you surely will want to know if the charge is going on you record permanently.  It depends.  If you have not been convicted of a crime previously, you’ll likely be eligible to enroll in a program called judicial diversion (usually just called diversion).  Diversion is a Tennessee law that allows qualified first-time offenders to have the entire record of the case dismissed and removed upon completion of probation.  Since the punishment for marijuana possession is 11 months and 29 days, that is the length of time for probation.  You can contact a Memphis drug crimes lawyer to learn more about how diversion works. Diversion does require a guilty plea, but judgment is then suspended so you can start and complete probation.  Having the judgment suspended means that you are not convicted.  The charge remains pending during probation, and will be removed once probation is completed and the charge is dismissed. During probation you will have to, first and foremost, stay out of trouble.  That’s really what probation is all about. Getting charged with another crime will result in a violation of probation and possibly being sentenced to jail.  There will be conditions of probation such as community service, drug offender classes, and random and frequent drug screens.  A failed drug screen will also result in a violation.  You must also pay court costs, fines, and probation fees. When probation is completed, you come back to court to have the case formally dismissed by the judge.  All of the costs and fines must be paid by this point.  Upon dismissal, an expungment order will be prepared for the lawyers and the judge to sign.  This order authorizes the destruction of all public records relating to the offense.  Furthermore, under Tennessee law the individual may answer “no” to any question regarding whether they have ever been convicted or even charged with a crime. But maybe you don’t want probation or are not eligible. Maybe you want to fight the charge and maintain your innocence. If the facts warrant it, the case may be challenged on the basis of Tennessee and United States constitutional provisions.  This is a different process than diversion.  This is actually challenging the case with the objective of having evidence suppressed.  The first thing a Memphis marijuana possession lawyer will want to look at in suppressing a drug charge is whether the police had probable cause to search for narcotics, or whether the accused freely gave consent to search.  Vehicle searches are a particularly sensitive area of the law, and if the government committed an illegal act in its search or seizure the evidence may be thrown out. Whether through application for judicial diversion or filing a motion to suppress evidence, a drug charge must be handled correctly by a competent attorney.  If you have been charged with possessing marijuana or other drugs in Memphis, please contact a Memphis marijuana possession lawyer for more information.

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