Timeframe Of Resolution For A Marijuana Drug Charge In Utah

Interviewer: How long does a typical Marijuana case last?  I mean if it’s Marijuana, and is it — does it take longer to wait for like results like blood test or anything like that?

Matthew Nebeker: Yes.  Orlando, that’s interesting issue on that too.  Now, you know, I think we’re really talking about defenses to, you know, possession charge or resolution to a drug possession charge kind of where this had gone I think.  So, I find that on a lot of these cases where there are minor amounts, just small amounts, that the prosecutors, a lot of them, won’t even send the controlled substances off to the lab to have it tested unless there’s going to be a trial. So, we’ll go through all the normal pre-trial procedures and see if there’s any kind of plea negotiations that can be reached, you know.  The first thing that I do is I look for good legal defenses to the charge.  And if I don’t have those, then I’m looking at a plea negotiation to get the best possible outcome for the client.  And so, you know, we can usually get most cases wrapped up in two or three months depending on the court’s calendar.

Probation Can be Construed as a Favorable Outcome in a Marijuana Drug Case

Those are cases that would be negotiated that maybe a first defense for the individual or like we’ve previously talked about, there are some out of state and they have a prescription to possess it and consume it in their state.  The prosecutor might offer what’s called a plea in abeyance where the client pleads guilty to an offence – it could be possession of the controlled substance, it could be something else – and the plea is held and the conviction is not entered.  And what they have to do is they have to pay a fine and they have to do whatever the court ask them to do to stay out of trouble, comply with all terms of probation for a 12 to 18 months period. If the individual does that, then the charge will be dismissed.  A conviction will not enter, it will not get reported to Driver’s License, it will not be reported to their, financial aid or you know professional licensing.  So, that’s a really good outcome on a lot of cases.

A Lot of Defendants Feel That it is in their Best Interests to Accept a Plea Bargain

A lot of clients say that that’s in their best interest to resolve their case in that manner.  And so, a lot of times, along with those diversion of plea in abeyance agreements, the prosecutor will dismiss some of the other charges, maybe like the open container or the disorderly conduct and so, this diversion of plea in abeyance gives a chance — gives the person a chance to keep a conviction off-the-record and so, if they’re going to do that, we can usually get the case resolved in a month or a two. Now, we have the opposite.  The cases that the prosecutor is not willing to offer, a diversion or a plea in abeyance for whatever reason, that could be because there’s multiple prior convictions or it was near a school or in a school or just something that’s offensive about the case that the prosecutor doesn’t want to offer that.  And so, if they’re not willing to, try and resolve the case through negotiations, then we have to set it for trial.  And that’s when, around here, a lot of times they send it off to the lab to be analyzed because they don’t want to go through all that cost and expense and time of having the substance analyzed unless there is going to be a trial.

It May Take Over An Year Prior to the Commencement of Trial for Marijuana Charges in Utah

So, an answer is or the question is yes, we could be two or three months into it before the stuff is even sent to the lab.  And depending on the lab, it can be another two or three months or so before we have the actual test results back to even know for sure what it is.  And then, if we want to do or if my client wants to do his own testing at a different lab, we would need more time for that.  And so, it could take cases that are gone to trial, up to a year or year and a half in some cases to make sure all the legal defenses and tactics and techniques are played before we actually get to a trial date.

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