ABC’s The Rookie making the false claim you can get a felony record for simple possession of a small amount of Marijuana

23 Nov , 2018   Video

Do you think that you can spend more than a year in jail for just simple marijuana possession of a small amount of the drug? Well, ABC’s new show The Rookie wants you to believe that is the case (Tuesday, November 20, 2018, Season 1, Episode 5). But it couldn’t be further from the truth. The Crime Prevention Research Center recently completed a study for Arizona (there are similar numbers of California where the show is taking place, but we have these handy), and it is clear that conviction for just simple possession won’t get you any prison time, let alone a felony with 5-years served in prison. The defendant accepted a plea deal, and apparently would have spent even more years in prison if he’d fought the charge!

The number of prisoners in the Arizona state prison system for marijuana possession is very small compared to the number of arrests. There were 21,727 arrests for marijuana possession in just one year, 2007. But only 12,100 people entered the Arizona state prison system for that charge over the entire 32.5 years from 1985 to 2017 period. From 2013 to 2017, there were a total of 729 commitments. And those few who go to jail have been convicted of possession multiple times before. Being arrested for marijuana possession is exceedingly unlikely to result in a prison sentence, and the few misdemeanor convictions of multiple repeat offenders result in prison stays of less than a year.

Whatever one’s views on legalization, it is important for the media not to depict the current system so inaccurately.


1 Response

  1. Phil Kline says:

    What defendants plead to, is not the totality of what they did, as Ann Coulter points out, and as every criminal defense lawyer knows. The convict may be in prison over a drug charge, but you have to look at the original arrest to see that he also had a stolen a gun and it was his 5th conviction and he was known to be a dealer. Just because he pled to the drug charge doesn’t mean he’s in prison because of that alone. And many states have sliding scales for the severity of the conviction, based on aggravating circumstances like the type of drug and the amount and any priors.

    This is also why it’s a lie to claim that black defendants are punished more harshly than white defendants “for the exact same charge”, because multiple other factors affect the grading and sentence. And having a good lawyer can help, too.

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