Let’s clarify one thing here: Smoking pot in public is still illegal in the United States, according to federal law. So if you forget this one thing and a police officer catches you possessing or smoking marijuana, what’s the worst that can happen to you? Above the Law answers with these two possibilities:
Scenario 1: Summons
In general, the cop will issue you a summons if you’re caught in possession of marijuana. It’s like a traffic ticket that compels you to go to a Summons Court at a later date.
At the court, you have to wait in a crowded room until your case is called. The judge will look at your case and rule whether the evidence is sufficient or not. If it isn’t sufficient, your case is dismissed. If it’s sufficient, you’ll get a plea offer.
First timers usually get an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal or ACD, which fully dismisses the case and seals it in six months. You also get a fine and some form of community service.
For non-US citizens, this incident might affect their chances of getting a citizenship or another visa, as they need to mention it in their applications.
Scenario 2: Arrest
Don’t rule out the possibility of getting arrested, especially in the most unfortunate of circumstances. That means getting handcuffed, having a mug shot, and waiting in the police precinct together with other people charged with worse crimes than smoking marijuana.
On the bright side, you get a public defender at the arraignment. If you plead guilty for smoking marijuana, you can accept the same ACD you would have gotten in summons.
If you don’t want to encounter any of these scenarios, don’t smoke weed in public. If you really must do it, choose your locale carefully.
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