New York residents may have noticed a trend toward the decriminalization of marijuana in their state. However, the NYPD took 17,762 people into custody for possession small amounts of the substance in New York City in 2016. This was a 10 percent increase from 2015, and 85 percent of those taken into custody were black or Hispanic. Only 10 percent of those taken into custody for the same offense were white.
While the number of people taken into custody for possessing small amounts of marijuana is up from 2015, it is down significantly from 2011. However, the number has failed to drop any further because of New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio's insistence on following a policy referred to as Broken Windows policing. The policy encourages tough enforcement of any crime that could cause a quality of life issue for other residents.
Following such a policy means taking people into custody for a crime even if the district attorney isn't prosecuting that type of offense. The mayor said that the Broken Windows philosophy has allowed New York City to be among the safest large cities in the country. He also said that officers still have leeway to give warnings when it may be more appropriate than taking someone into custody.
Those who are facing possession of marijuana charges may wish to talk with an attorney. Legal counsel may create a defense to the charge that may result in a plea deal or an acquittal. It may be argued that an individual was not actually in possession of the substance or that he or she didn't know that the substance was marijuana. It may also be argued that a police officer didn't have probable cause to stop an individual prior to discovering the marijuana.