Monroe County DA still prosecuting marijuana possession

February 06, 2019 06:21 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) -- New York is moving toward legalizing the adult use of recreational marijuana and because of it, some of the state's top law enforcers have eased up on ticketing and charging people for possession of the drug.

District attorneys in Manhattan and Onondaga County said before the law even changes in New York, they are going to stop prosecuting low-level marijuana possession cases and expunge the records of those convicted of the crimes in the past.  


News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke sat down with Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley Wednesday to talk about how she is handling possession cases right now and her plans for prosecuting them in the coming months.

News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke: "How are low-level possession cases handled right now in Monroe County?"

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley: "If you're found with just a small amount, it's called a UPM or unlawful possession of marijuana and it's not a jail-able offense, it's a fine-able offense. So, if someone comes in with a ticket for possessing marijuana we usually will ask them to get an evaluation to make sure they don't have any other addictions and then we dismiss it with an ACD (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal). So, it's not like we're prosecuting low levels as it is." 

Lewke: "So, does that than ever become part of a suspect's permanent record?"

Doorley: "For an ACD, no...not unless they re-offend within six months and then it can be re-opened but it's a sealed offense."  

Lewke: "So, if first-time offenders are already getting a free pass, who is getting charged with crimes that may or may not be illegal when/if marijuana becomes legal?"

Doorley: "I'm not saying that we don't prosecute individuals for possession of marijuana but we usually would concentrate on those that are possessing large amounts that are indicative of a sale."

Lewke: "So, without knowing what the law will actually say… what will happen from here?"

Doorley: "Once it's legal, if someone approaches me through their attorney or themselves and they present proof that the only thing on their record is marijuana possession charge which would now be legal under the law, I will work with that individual to make sure that's expunged from their record.  But, if there's a person with multiple misdemeanors on their record and maybe multiple felonies, if they have one marijuana offense, that's not going to be an offense I'm going to expunge from their record."

Lewke: "There are other district attorneys who have said they will go back through their records and they will expunge the records of people who they think would now not be convicted of a crime, will you do that?"

Doorley: "I will not but if they come to me, I will absolutely work with them." 

Lewke: "How many do you estimate there might be?"

Doorley: "I would probably say less than 100, maybe 100."

Lewke: "What are your concerns as New York moves toward legalizing recreational weed?"

Doorley: "I've spoken with other district attorneys, especially ones in Colorado, they've seen an uptick in violent crime, and especially an uptick in property crimes as well as a huge increase in the driving while ability impaired cases."


Jennifer Lewke

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