In Minnesota, there are many levels of marijuana related criminal charges. The amount of marijuana which a person possesses or sells determines the level of offense. Possession or sale of 42.5 grams or more of marijuana can lead to felony charges. Consequences for felony level marijuana related offenses range from a year and a day to 30 years in prison.
Less serious marijuana related offenses include petty misdemeanor possession of a small amount of marijuana or misdemeanor possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle. Both possession of a small amount of marijuana and marijuana in a motor vehicle are listed on the Minnesota Statewide Payables List.  The Payables List authorizes the payment of a fine in lieu of a court appearance. The advantage of paying a fine rather than making a court appearance are obvious: avoiding the hassle of getting time off work and escaping the stress of court. This convenient solution is often a good option for United States Citizens.
Non-citizen must consult with an immigration/criminal attorney prior to paying the fine. Further, ignoring the ticket can also result in a de facto plea of guilty. Minnesota Law states that if you are charged with a petty misdemeanor or a misdemeanor on the payables list that can be certified as a petty misdemeanor and you fail to appear or respond to the citation, a guilty plea and conviction may be entered. By sending in a check or failing to go to court, you are admitting that you possessed marijuana or had marijuana in your motor vehicle. This can have devastating immigration consequences for Immigration purposes; even a petty misdemeanor conviction is considered a drug related offense. Such an offense can be a bar to a bond and can result in ineligibility for adjustment of status.
If you receive such a ticket, don’t wait! Speak to both an immigration and criminal attorney. An immigration attorney can discuss the potential consequences to your immigration status and a criminal attorney can evaluate your criminal case, look for suppression issues, and negotiate with the prosecutor. A petty misdemeanor marijuana offense does not have to impact your immigration status. Call one of the experienced attorneys at Wilson Law Group for more information.