Defending Marijuana Crimes in Utah
Marijuana (also known as weed, pot, or cannabis) is one of the most widely used illicit substances in the United States. Despite the fact that it has been legalized for medical and recreational purposes in neighboring Colorado, the State of Utah still has some of the harshest laws prohibiting the possession of marijuana in the country.
The consequences for any of the following criminal offenses involving marijuana can be particularly harsh, including significant fines, jail time, or community service. In fact, any conviction for possession of marijuana or possession of drug paraphernalia may result in a 6 month driver's license suspension.
Common misdemeanor and criminal offenses include:
Never has the debate around legalizing marijuana gained so much attention. Despite the debate, Utah's current laws are clear. You can go to jail or be supervised on probation for the possession of even a small amount of marijuana. These penalties can have strong effects on certain professions, professional licenses, and academic standings. Even if you are facing a misdemeanor marijuana offense, an experienced criminal defense attorney would be an asset to have on your side.
Salt Lake City Marijuana Attorney
If you were arrested for any marijuana, pot, weed, or cannabis crime in Salt Lake City, Utah, it's important to discuss your legal options with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Darren Levitt represents men, women, and minors who are facing marijuana charges in Salt Lake County, Weber County, Box Elder County, Cache County, and the surrounding communities. As an active member of the NORML Legal Committee, Darren is dedicated to the cause of responsible marijuana laws in Utah and throughout the United States.
Call Levitt Legal today at (801) 455-1743 to begin discussing your case. During your free consultation, Darren will help you understand your charges and analyze your case for factors that can help reduce the charges you face or dismiss them altogether.
Marijuana Information Center
Back to top
Types of Marijuana Crimes under Utah Law
Marijuana is considered a controlled substance in Utah and is classified under schedule I, on the same level as codeine, morphine, LSD, and peyote. As a result, there are various criminal offenses associated with marijuana under state statute 58-37-8. The following types of marijuana crimes are prosecuted in the state courts of Utah:
- Possession with Intent to Deliver:
- Sale or Delivery:
- Manufacturing and Cultivation: and
Back to top
Penalties for Marijuana Offenses in Utah
Utah's Criminal Code 58-37-8(2)(d), possession of marijuana offenses are graded according to the amount of cannabis the alleged offender possessed as well as the number of times he or she has been previously convicted of this offense. Under this statute, marijuana possession crimes are classified as follows:
- First or Second Offense — Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000;
- Third Offense — Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500; or
- Fourth or Subsequent Offense — Third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
If a person allegedly possess 100 pounds or more of marijuana, possession is a second-degree felony offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Back to top
Penalties for Sale or Delivery of Marijuana Laws in Utah
The sale or delivery of any amount of marijuana is a third degree felony punishable by up to five (5) years in Utah State Prison and a $5,000 fine. Any subsequent offense for sale or delivery of marijuana can be penalized as a 2nd degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in Utah State Prison.
Certain enhanced penalties apply if the sale occurred within the presence of a minor or within 1,000 feet of a school, church, shopping mall, public park, public parking lot, recreation center, sports facility, amusement park, synagogue, or theater. This increases the level of the offense to the next highest degree except for any first degree felony, which carries a five (5) year minimum mandatory prison sentence.
Back to top
Related Criminal Offenses
There are several offenses related to marijuana, which carry different penalties than those for the sale, possession, or trafficking of marijuana. These offenses include:
- Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- Sale of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
- Sale of paraphernalia to a minor is a felony punishable by up to five years in Utah State Prison and a $5,000 fine.
Back to top
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Penalties in Utah
Utah has a "zero tolerance" per se DUI law enacted. The law prohibits a driver from operating a motor vehicle if the driver has any detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite present in their bodily fluids.
The penalties for driving while under the influence of marijuana in Utah vary depending on previous convictions, injury or death of other parties, and the destruction of public property. You can visit our DUI page to learn more about penalties for DUI in Utah.
Back to top
Utah's Marijuana Tax Stamps
Many people are surprised to learn that Utah can actually charge people with failing to affix a tax stamp to their marijuana. The offense is a third degree felony under Utah Code § 59-19-106(2). In addition to the tax penalty imposed under this statute, the person who possesses the marijuana or controlled substance without the appropriate tax stamp can be charged with a third degree felony. This charge of possession of marijuana without a tax stamp affixed must be brought within six years of the commission of the offense.
Back to top
Defenses to Marijuana Crimes under Utah Law
It's important to remember that a marijuana charge does not automatically indicate guilt. In fact, it is the burden of the prosecution to prove guilt. A criminal defense attorney can be useful in helping find errors committed by law enforcement in arrest, investigation, or collection of evidence. Failure on their part can be an asset in pursing dropped or reduced charges.
A defense strategy may also include filing a Motion to Dismiss if there is not enough evidence to charge you with a marijuana violation. The prosecution must establish beyond reasonable doubt that you were in knowing possession of the cannabis. This means that, at the time of arrest, they must prove that you had actual or constructive possession of the drug.
A Motion to Suppress may be filed by your marijuana defense attorney if the prosecution used evidence obtained illegally. This includes evidence obtained through an illegal seizure of your home, person, vehicle, or other property. The motion would prohibit the prosecution from using this evidence to try and prove your guilt in court.
Back to top
Utah Marijuana Laws and Resources
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) - For over 40 years, NORML has pursued public interest advocacy to change marijuana laws on a state and federal level. Their efforts take the form of lobbying, voter initiatives, and combating anti-marijuana propaganda. Salt Lake City NORML
P.O. Box 26351
Salt Lake City, UT 84126
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) - SSDP is an organization based on a grassroots movement of students across the nation. Their mission is to empower young people to participate in the political process as it relates to the war on drugs, including a sizable effort to reform marijuana laws.
SSDP, University of Utah Chapter - The goal of this chapter of the SSDP is currently to pass the "Good Samaritan Policy", which would grant an individual amnesty in medical emergency situations of alcohol poisoning or drug overdose.
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) - The Marijuana Policy Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to removing criminal penalties for marijuana offenses. They also are focused on legalizing marijuana for medical purposes in each state.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) - LEAP is an organization founded by current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice field. They do not believe in the effectiveness of the current War on Drugs and work to speak out on the failure of current drug policies.
Marijuana to be Legalized in Utah? - Exclusive article dated September 28, 2010, about Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City’s former mayor. Although the former mayor stopped just short of saying marijuana should be legalized while he was in office, he now publicly says it should be legalized in Utah and the rest of the country.
Utah Marijuana Penalties and Punishments on NORML Website - Read a summary of penalties and punishments for marijuana and cannabis crimes in Utah on NORML's website. Compare those penalties to the rest of the country.
Utah's Marijuana Threat Assessment - The threat assessment published by the National Drug Intelligence Center for nearly every jurisdiction in the United States, includes a page analyzing the threat to the state of Utah. Utah's marijuana threat assessment includes statistics on abuse, availability, violence, production, transportation of marijuana to Utah and Salt Lake City, and distribution from criminal groups.
Utah and Medical Marijuana in 2011 - Article from the Marijuana Policy Project entitled "Utah adjourns its 2011 General Session; Medical Marijuana Patients Still Criminalized." The article discusses the failure of Utah's legislature to even consider legislation to legalize medical cannabis even through recent polls show that 81% of Americans support protecting medical marijuana patients.
Marijuana Anonymous – The Marijuana Anonymous organization is structured similarly to the respected Alcohol Anonymous model. Each meeting is organized and participated in by current or former individuals with marijuana addictions. Members share their stories of addiction and progress as they work through the 12 Step program for recovery.
Back to top
Levitt Legal, PLLC | Salt Lake City Marijuana Defense Lawyer
Utah does not treat marijuana offenses lightly. It is critically important to consider all of your legal options. Darren Levitt is a strong advocate for marijuana law reform and represents individuals facing marijuana charges in Salt Lake and the surrounding counties. He will fight for your best interests and proactively seek motions to help protect your future. Call (801) 455-1743 or send an online message for your in-depth consultation.