Possession – First Offense
Possession of marijuana is a serious offense in Virginia. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1, it is unlawful for any person to “knowingly” possess marijuana. Generally, any person convicted of a first offense for possession of marijuana (less than one-half ounce) is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to confinement in jail for up to thirty (30) days and a fine of up to $500. Additionally, conviction under this statute requires a suspension of an individual’s license to drive a motor vehicle for six months. See Virginia Code §18.2-259.1. However, an individual whose license is suspended may petition the court for a restricted license to drive to work, school, church and medical appointments.
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-251, an individual who has not previously received a drug-related conviction (a “first offender”) may, in the discretion of the court, receive a deferred disposition and dismissal of the charge upon completion of the statutory and court-ordered conditions of probation. The statute requires that an individual seeking a deferred disposition for dismissal undergo a substance abuse assessment (and treatment if the court deems it necessary). Further, such individual must pay all or part of his or her court costs and fines, as well as the costs associated with enrollment in an approved substance abuse program. During his or her probationary period, an individual must abstain from drug and alcohol use and is subject to random drug and alcohol screening to ensure compliance. Finally, the statute requires that an individual complete at least 24 hours of community service. Failure to comply with these terms will result in a finding of guilt and imposition of the aforementioned penalties.
Although satisfactory completion of the conditions of probation under the first offender program will result in dismissal of an individual’s possession charge, the offense remains a conviction for subsequent drug-related offenses. Therefore, if an individual, who previously received a dismissal of a possession of marijuana charge under the first offender statute, subsequently violates the possession statute, such subsequent offense will constitute a second offense for the purposes of adjudication and sentencing. Further, an xpungement is not permissible when an individual receives a dismissal of the possession charge under the first offender program. Please note that marijuana cases (and other drug-related cases) often involve complex search and seizure defenses, as well as negotiation skills that generally require an experienced attorney.
Charged With Possession w/Intent in Virginia?
Your Freedom May Depend on Getting the Best Legal Counsel!
A charge of possession with intent to distribute, or manufacturing a controlled substance is a very serious charge with severe penalties. You are facing mandatory jail time in many cases, if you are convicted.
But there are always defenses that an experienced criminal defense lawyer who’s beaten drug cases before can come up with. Consult with an attorney immediately to preserve your best defense opportunities. If you wait, there may not be time to file motions for discovery, motions to suppress, or thoroughly investigate your case.
Is There a Specific Quantity of Drugs that Qualifies as Intent to Distribute?
No. Even a tiny amount of a Schedule 1 or 2 controlled substance can potential land you a charge of intent to distribute. In Virginia, the police can charge possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance based on the circumstances and other evidence at the scene – cash, baggies, packaging, scales.
For marijuana, there are specific statutory guidelines for a distribution charge, as follows:
Intent to Distribute Marijuana Penalties
|Less than 1/2 oz||Misdemeanor||Up to 12 Months in Jail|
|Half an oz up to 5lbs||Felony||Up to 10 years in prison|
|More than 5lbs||Felony||Up to 30 years in prison|
Penalties – Possession With Intent to Sell, Distribute, or Manufacture a Controlled Substance – Penalties
Penalties for Possession with Intent are also based on the classification into Federal drug schedules. The penalty for intent to distribute, manufacture or sell is:
|Schedule I||Heroin, Ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, GHB||5 to 40 years in prison, fines up to $500,000.For a second offense, up to life in prison|
|Schedule II||Cocaine, Methamphetamine, crystal meth, Morphine, PCP, Methadone, Ritalin||5 to 40 years in prison, fines up to $500,000.For a second (2nd) offense, up to life in prison|
|Schedule III||Anabolic steroids, Codeine and Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Dolacet and others) with aspirin or Tylenol, Special K (Ketamine), some barbiturates and other depressants||1 to 10 years in prison|
|Schedule IV||Many prescription drugs such as Darvon, Talwin, Equanil, Valium (diazepam), Rohypnol, and Xanax, as well as other tranquilizers.||1 to 5 years in prison|
When our clients are facing serious felony accusations, we always look for every opportunity to get the charges reduced and take the risks of the most severe penalties off the table. Since a charge of possession with intent is often somewhat subjective, We vigorously argue that the charges be reduced to simple possession if we think there is a chance it will work.
We will also frequently file a motion to suppress the evidence on the grounds of illegal search and seizure.
We’ve defended a high number of cases of possession with intent, we utilize our knowledge and experience to fight for the best outcome possible. Don’t give up hope, even if you think you are guilty. Give me us call – we’ll listen to your case, review the evidence. We will tell you the best way to fight the case and defend your freedom