My Avvo Advisor story: Busted for bud

Avvo, Marijuana

As told to Avvo by an Avvo Advisor client in Pennsylvania, May 24, 2015

“I had a few friends over to my house to hang out. They arrived and I offered to run to the store and grab some beers. When I got back, I got out some food, passed beers around and turned on the music—a totally normal Saturday night.

About 30 minutes later I heard a knock at the door. Turns out it was the police, and that my neighbors had called in a noise complaint about the music. Annoying, but they’re older and I wasn’t too fussed about it. My friends and I are all in our late 30s so it didn’t even cross my mind to be worried about getting in trouble. I invited the police offers in to see for themselves that nothing crazy was going on. They did a quick survey and found weed. Oops.

Apparently when I had left to go to the store, my friend had brought marijuana in the house from his car. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but I certainly would not have invited the cops into my house if I had known!

Since it was my house, I was charged with possession. It was just a few grams and I had never been in trouble before, so they told me it would only be a misdemeanor. But what did that mean? Was I going to go to jail? Did I need a lawyer? Was this going to cost a lot of money?

The officers took me to the station and processed my charges and paperwork. They released me that night, but told me my license was suspended. They said I’d get further instructions in the mail.

I still had no clue what to expect after that — I didn’t really want to ask my friends or family for advice and have to explain the story to them. So I kind of just ignored the problem for a while. That might sound dumb but I just didn’t want to deal with it.

Then I got the court papers. Now it felt real and I knew I had to figure something out. I Googled “how to find a good lawyer” and clicked around a bit. Avvo kept popping up in the search results and I remembered seeing commercials for Avvo on ESPN. The people in the commercial were on their phones so I searched the app store on my phone.

I searched for “lawyers” and a few apps came up. I tried the first one but it was kind of confusing, so I deleted it. Then I downloaded Avvo Advisor — it said I would get a 15-minute phone call with a lawyer for $39. That sounded pretty great considering that I had started getting letters from lawyers that offered consultations starting at $100 (they get your information from the court system).

In the app, I hit “start a session” and picked “criminal defense” as the topic I wanted to discuss, since I was facing criminal charges.

The next screen asked if I wanted to upload a photo. I took a picture of the three documents the court had sent me: one had the charges on it, one was the statement I had given to the police, and one had instructions about getting my fingerprints taken.

Then it asked me to pay the fixed fee of $39, which I did easily with my credit card.

I hit “Confirm & pay” and it said my lawyer would call me within 15 minutes.

I took the time to make sure I had all my questions written down and felt ready for the call. It ended up only taking 8 minutes for my phone to start ringing. I kind of expected a call from a call center on the other side of the world, but when I picked up, the lawyer said his name was Joseph Nash and he was in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania — only about 5 miles from where I live.

Joseph knew all about Pennsylvania marijuana laws, answered all of my questions, and told me what to expect. He said I’d have to pay the $500 fine and get my fingerprints taken. Then I’d get a court date, and if all went well at court I would only get probation. After a certain amount of time with no other infractions, I could get my record expunged. He didn’t rush me at all and 15 minutes felt like plenty of time to cover all of my questions. Joseph also confirmed what I guessed — that I should hire a lawyer to help me through the process.

The process still sucks, don’t get me wrong, but I felt so much better after hearing from someone who knew the system well and could tell me everything that could or would happen in the process. I looked Joseph up on Google and Avvo after our call and it turns out he’s a top criminal defense lawyer in our area, so I felt even more confident in the advice he’d given me.

My next move will be to hire a lawyer like he suggested, and I’ll use Avvo’s lawyer directory so I can compare lawyers in the area and read their client reviews before I contact them.

I would definitely use Avvo Advisor again. I already told my family and friends about it too. My aunt was recently in a car accident, and she ended up using it to figure out what she should do next.”

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