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    What Penn State Students Should Know About a New Drug Ordinance – By a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer

     David Nenner, Philadelphia, PA Criminal Defense Lawyer – Drug and Murder Charges David Nenner, a Philadelphia, PA Criminal Defense Lawyer
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    In late summer of this year, the State College Borough Council passed a rule allowing the State College police to enforce some marijuana offenses as an ordinance violation rather than filing criminal charges.

    The idea was proposed by a Penn State senior in March during a council meeting.  The senior asked the council to consider allowing police to enact a civil penalty.  The proposed ordinance is similar to the ordinances in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

    Under the ordinance, a small amount of marijuana means 30 grams or less or 8 grams or less of hashish.  If individuals are found to possess a small amount of marijuana, they would be subject to a fine of $250.  If individuals are smoking marijuana in public, they would be fined $350.

    In addition, individuals in possession of marijuana would be issued a non-traffic citation.  In situations where the individual is under the age of 18, the parent or guardian would also be issued the same citation.

    Prior to the ordinance being passed, marijuana charges were misdemeanors.  In terms of the seriousness of crimes, summary offenses or non-traffic citations are less serious than misdemeanor charges; however, there is a serious consequence of summary offenses.  Violators of the new ordinance would have a record of the summary offense on their public records for five years.  The offense cannot be expunged for five years.

    However, individuals with marijuana misdemeanor convictions on their records could have them expunged after paying fees, completing an accelerated rehabilitative disposition program and waiting the mandatory 1 year period required by PA expungement law. Essentially, a marijuana misdemeanor conviction allows an individual to get their record expunged much earlier than a summary offense conviction. Thus, even though it is a summary offense, it could significantly impact students when they are looking for jobs because it will be on their records.  Employers may not hire the students after graduation because they see a record.  This is something students need to know.

    The other issue with the new ordinance is that students do not know that parts of the Penn State campus are located within five municipalities, such as State College, Ferguson and Benner Townships.  The new ordinance only applies to Penn State’s main campus in State College.  Thus, a concern is that after students hear that they will not be charged criminally for possession of small amounts of marijuana, they may not be as concerned with getting caught on Penn State’s other campus locations.  For example, if they are caught in possession of marijuana on the Ferguson school campus, they would be charged with a misdemeanor.

    Are You Facing a Drug Charge in Philadelphia or Other Parts of Pennsylvania?

    If you were charged with a drug charge, call David Nenner, an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer.  FREE consultations. 215.564.0644

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