Smith gets deferred sentence in pot case

REGION — A man who potentially faced state prison time for selling $50 worth of marijuana will instead receive probation and a deferred sentence, after both sides reached a plea agreement last week.

Brandon Smith, 26, pleaded to a felony and a misdemeanor, but his sentence was deferred for two years, meaning that if he remains out of trouble for two years, the case will be dismissed, his attorney Michael Cindrich said.

“I think this was the fairest and best possible outcome,” Cindrich said.

Smith was arrested in September 2014 for selling about $50 worth of marijuana in a parking lot of an Encinitas shopping center. A second man involved in the transaction was cited for marijuana possession.

District Attorney’s officials said Smith faced a maximum of four years in state prison if found guilty on the charges, though Smith’s attorney said he believed his client faced seven years of prison time.

Cindrich had stated that he believed a felony conviction or plea would hinder Smith’s ability to finish college because he would be ineligible for state and federal financial aid.

The judge recommended both sides reach a plea agreement after reviewing motions filed by both sides at the May 15 hearing.

If Smith is not charged with any other crimes during the two-year stay of the sentence, the felony will be dismissed and Smith will be sentenced to probation on the misdemeanor, but the District Attorney’s office agreed to immediately dismiss the probation as well.

Cindrich said at that time, he will then move to have the misdemeanor expunged from his record.

“It is a really good deal, my client is stoked and all he needs to do is stay out of trouble, which he will,” Cindrich said. “He will be able to stay in school, which is what we wanted all along. I am really excited about the deal.

“Basically, he will have a misdemeanor on his record for a minute,” Cindrich said.

Smith’s case had become a rallying point for a number of medical marijuana advocacy groups and groups critical of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. The groups had staged rallies at several of the court hearings.

The Coast News has reached out the District Attorney’s office for comment and will update the story with any additional information.

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