Q: I was charged with possession of a small amount of weed in my car. My friends and I decided to get out the car to go to a gas station and someone had called the police because my friend was intoxicated. We were not in the car but a light was on in the car and police officer told me to shut it off I opened the door and police officer smelled the weed in the car. I told them it was mine even though it wasn’t to get the people I was with off the hook. I have a previous DUI in NJ where I go to college but none in PA. I took some DUI classes in NJ and paid the fines. Now I have a possession of marijuana charge in PA. It is my first and I want to get ARD program for it? Also, since we were not driving nor in the car, can my license be taken away? I am a college student and I work so I need to get back and forth. What should I do?
A: You really need to review this with a Criminal Defense Attorney in your area. You may have enough of an illegal search defense to push the police into turning this into something that does not result in a criminal conviction if just outright asking them to cut you a break doesn’t work. You may not be able to get ARD as you have had it once in NJ and you cannot get ARD for a drug case in PA. If you cannot get it withdrawn at the Preliminary Hearing, or turned into a summary offense like Disorderly Conduct, your next option would be to receive Probation Without Verdict (PWV) at the trial level which will not result in a conviction. However, be aware that some county DA’s will not offer PWV if you have had a prior ARD for DUI. Your goal is to get out of this without a record which is more difficult since it is your second time at the plate. If you are offered to plead to a Disorderly Conduct summary offense at the Preliminary Hearing. However, a summary conviction will stay on your record 5 years before you can expunge it, assuming you can stay out of trouble. Again, your chances of minimizing your damage will be better with an attorney.