Horse trade. A plea negotiation requires an examination of the facts and the law. To expose potential bargaining chips, a lawyer practicing exclusively in the area of criminal law examines both the facts, the required elements of the charged offense, plus any lesser included or alternative offenses that might be less serious and carry fewer penalties. Gathering in places where marijuana is used can sometimes be such a vehicle in a marijuana possession case. If you or a loved one have been arrested for a serious misdemeanor, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC.
Gathering is shorthand for a violation of Iowa Code § 124.407, “Sponsoring A Gathering For Use Of A Controlled Substance.”
Someone may be guilty of “gathering” if they “sponsor, aid, or promote a gathering of two or more persons” with the knowledge or intent that a controlled substance would be distributed, used or possessed at the gathering.
Iowa Model Criminal Jury Instruction 2320.1
A factual basis for possession of a marijuana may yield a factual basis for gathering in plea negotiations with the State. A gathering is, like possession of a marijuana, a serious misdemeanor punishable by fines ranging from $315 to $1875, and with a maximum jail sentence of one year-- if the substance is marijuana.
However, gathering doesn’t require a mandatory minimum 48 hour jail sentence and it doesn’t carry with it a mandatory 180 day driver’s license revocation.
Although conventional wisdom seems to suggest that because gathering is not a possessory offense (it does not require, as one of its elements, possession of any controlled substance) this offense will not adversely affect federal student financial aid and questions regarding such “possessory offenses” can be answered in the negative. I won’t go that far. I believe it is important to discuss with a qualified student financial aid advisor at the college or university where a defendant plans to attend or already attends to determine the necessary steps to preserve financial aid and to answer any federal agency applications, including the free application for federal student aid truthfully and completely.
However, if all parties agree that a gathering is an acceptable plea agreement outcome, it is a way to avoid mandatory minimum jail sentences and the 180 day driver’s license revocation.
Note, however, that possession of a drug other than marijuana makes gathering a poor choice. That’s because gathering for the purpose of using or possessing a drug other than marijuana is a felony—not a serious misdemeanor. Simple possession of cocaine, for example, is still a serious misdemeanor. Gathering in places where cocaine is used therefore is not an acceptable alternative because of the felony upgrade.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, or other Iowa community, note that a blog is not an adequate substitute for actual legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading such a blog nor by sending unsolicited information to an attorney over the Internet. Contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC for an initial consultation today.
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