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Rockland County residents visiting nearby New York City may want to know that the rates of arrests for low-level marijuana crimes in New York City have dropped almost 35 percent over recent years according to statistics from the State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

There were around 50,000 arrests for such crimes in 2011 and only about 28,000 in 2013. However, the decrease in the first three months of the new mayor of New York City’s term has been less than 10 percent. 

During his election campaign last year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, criticized the perceived racial bias of marijuana arrests in the city and pledged to make the law enforcement process fairer; however, it is still a problem. Nearly 90 percent of marijuana arrests involve a black or Hispanic person.

Even though the number of arrests has decreased, activists for drug law reform say that the numbers still suggest problematic police practices such as performing illegal searches and asking people to empty their pockets when not actually required by law to do so. This is an example of why it is considered a good idea to consult an attorney if you have been charged with a drug crime in order to determine if your rights have been violated.

The Police Commissioner recently issued a statement that the police department is using "a lot more discretion" in making arrests. The District Attorney said that his office, the police, and mayor are all working together to achieve a more uniform way of handling these arrests. In any event, authorities must adhere to proper protocol when arresting someone on drug charges.

If you are facing drug charges, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney who can challenge the charges and work to have them reduced or dismissed.

Source: The Guardian, "Arrests for low-level marijuana crime plummet in New York City," May 9, 2014

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