Tag: criminal defense controlled substance

Pitfalls for Marijuana Possession by Noncitizens

If you are a noncitizen, then you must think twice before possessing even small quantities of marijuana for personal use.  Low-level marijuana offenses can result in serious immigration consequences. Marijuana remains a Schedule I drug at the federal level.  As a result, any violation of state drug laws (or admission of a drug offense) can be a basis for denying a visa stamp, revoking a visa or denying entry into the U.S. following a trip abroad.  Possession and use of marijuana can also prevent naturalization applicants from establishing good moral character to become a citizen. This can be particularly troubling […]

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Retailers Should Avoid Delta-8 THC For Now in Iowa

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the availability of consumable hemp products now that the retail registration portal is open.  One of the more frequent questions we have been fielding concern the legal status of delta-8 THC in Iowa. Hemp is defined under state law to include “any part” of the plant of the genus cannabis and all “derivatives,” “extracts” and “cannabinoids” with a maximum delta-9 THC concentration of 0.30 percent.  So it would appear that delta-8 THC, a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in hemp, would be legal to sell over the counter here, right? Not so fast. The amount of […]

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Drug Charge Dismissed Following Successful Constructive Possession Defense

Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa.  A traffic stop on I-35 led to the discovery of marijuana in a car trunk.  The trooper cited the driver for speeding, but charged the passenger with possession of marijuana. The drug defense attorneys at GRL Law have written before on the constructive possession defense.  This case presented yet another opportunity to raise it now on the passenger’s behalf. Because the trooper did not discover the marijuana in our client’s actual possession, the state needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she constructively possessed it.  That requires evidence that the passenger not only knew […]

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Snitch Beats Rap After Task Force FUBAR

On February 17, 2021 the Iowa Court of Appeals in State v. Tucker dismissed felony drug charges against an informant who upheld her end of a task force proffer. Although both the factual and procedural histories are long and winding, the issue on appeal was fairly straightforward.  Should the court enforce a plea agreement against the State when the informant does what the prosecutor specifically asked as part of the plea agreement? Here, the informant faced 40 years in prison for methamphetamine and heroin possession.  She made a proffer to the task force and agreed to testify against another party […]

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Challenging Vehicle Inventory Searches

The drug defense attorneys at GRL Law are known for aggressively challenging searches by police, particularly those arising from vehicle inventories.  Those searches occur after police impound a car following a traffic stop.  Before towing, police will inventory the contents to protect primarily against claims of lost or stolen property.  Police often locate drugs and paraphernalia during the course of the inventory and bring additional charges against the occupants. It should come as no surprise that police often abuse their authority to initiate inventory searches as a means to poke around the car without a warrant when they have no […]

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Consequences of Marijuana Possession in a Commercial Motor Vehicle

The drug defense attorneys at GRL have blogged before on the pitfalls of being stopped by police with marijuana in your personal vehicle.  Fortunately, Iowa no longer suspends your driving privileges for drug convictions. Does this mean you can keep personal use quantities in the sleeper area of a semi truck? In a word, no.  Not unless, of course, you are looking to have your CDL privileges disqualified for six months. That’s right. You will lose your privilege to drive a commercial motor vehicle if convicted of most simple possession offenses.   Marijuana, amphetamines or any narcotic drug will do the […]

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Commercial Truck Driver Charged with OWI sees charges amended to Speeding

Polk County, Iowa- A commercial truck driver was stopped for an inspection of his vehicle.  The inspection turned up no evidence of illegal substances, but the driver, who was from out of state, was suspected of operating while under the influence.  The officer who conducted the investigation ultimately concluded that the driver must’ve been under the influence of a controlled substance.  The driver consented to provide a sample of his urine.  After drinking many cups of water, he was unable to urinate and the officer marked him as a refusal.  He was charged with OWI based in large part upon […]

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What is Aiding and Abetting a Drug Crime?

If a person approves and agrees to the commission of a drug crime, then he will be treated the same as the person who is accused of actually committing the crime.  This is referred to as “aiding and abetting.” How does a person aid and abet a drug crime? It’s simple.  Either he actively participates in a delivery or grow or knowingly advises or encourages it beforehand. Aiding and abetting may be inferred from circumstantial evidence including companionship and conduct surrounding the transaction.  This is because knowledge of a person’s state of mind is seldom capable of direct proof. For […]

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The Constructive Possession Defense for Marijuana

The drug defense attorneys at GRL Law have seen it all when it comes to traffic stops involving cannabis.  This is especially true when police charge a driver with possession for weed located under a passenger’s seat.    Is there a defense for the driver? Absolutely! Because this marijuana is not actually found on the driver, the State must establish he constructively possessed it by proving he: Exercised dominion and control over it; Knew of its presence; and Knew it was a controlled substance. A driver’s close physical proximity to contraband is insufficient to constitute dominion and control.  The same […]

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Possession Does Not Merge With Eluding While Carrying Marijuana

A unanimous Iowa Supreme Court ruled on October 16, 2020 that certain marijuana possession-related convictions do not merge for purposes of double jeopardy protections against cumulative punishments. In State v. Johnson, the defendant argued his possession of marijuana conviction, a serious misdemeanor, should merge with his felony conviction for eluding while possessing marijuana.  The State did not dispute that a driver cannot violate the particular eluding subsection without also violating the prohibition against possessing marijuana.  Under the legal-elements test that compares two offenses to determine whether it is possible to commit the greater offense without committing the lesser, the crimes […]

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