Andrew H. Stevenson, Attorney At Law
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December 2013 Archives

Whose Marijuana Is It If Nobody Claims It?

I represent many individuals charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession or paraphernalia possession. Most of these cases arise in connection with a traffic stop. The car is pulled over by police, the officer detains all individuals in the car, often asks to search, finds marijuana in the vehicle and then asks whose marijuana is it? Here is where it usually gets interesting. Often everyone denies ownership. The officer then threatens that everyone will get charged if no one comes forward. The result is 4 people charged with possession of 1 small amount of marijuana. How can they charge all four if it clearly is only one person's marijuana? The simple answer is: they can charge everybody, but that does not mean they can convict anyone.

The Intent Required For Complicity

Even if you did not commit a crime, you might be charged with complicity. If you have been charged with Complicity to a crime (aiding and abetting), it does not mean that you are guilty. Often individuals are charged with complicity because they are associated with or were near an individual who committed or attempted to commit a crime (e.g. friend, roommate, relative, spouse, wrong place/wrong time). But just because you have some association with the events, does not necessarily make you guilty.

What is Complicity and Why Should I Beware?

Complicity is the legal term for assisting or helping someone commit a crime. It is more commonly known as "accessory" or "aiding and abetting." Under the law a person can be charged with complicity if they solicit, aid or abet a person in the commission of a crime. However, it does not take much to aid or abet someone. Hence the smallest little help you provide could be sufficient to establish conspiracy. Further, you might be aiding another even if you do not think that you are. For example: being the lookout for a burglary is complicity. If your roommate is growing weed in his room with a grow lamp and you split the electric bill, that could be complicity. Giving a friend a ride to his "buddies" house to buy some "supplies," that can be complicity.

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