7 Weed Tips: from our Fairfax Criminal Attorney
on: Virginia marijuana possession laws
When you finish the list below, keep reading for a deeper look into each issue:
7 points every young adult needs to know
about possession of marijuana laws in Virginia
- The majority of those who are charged with possession of marijuana are stopped while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. It helps to understand your basic rights if stopped. It also helps to avoid being in a car with marijuana, at the same time. See below.
- Apologizing comes naturally to many people who are not used to dealing with law enforcement and who have clean records — Perhaps if I apologize and come across as truly sorry, the officer will show me mercy and let me go with a warning — See below.
- Be aware of stereotypes: if you appear to fit a stereotype, be prepared to deal with that. It may not be fair, but it is reality.
- If you are facing a first offense possession of marijuana charge in Northern Virginia, the chances that a judge will sentence you to jail if you go to trial and lose is low. The more problematic consequence in most people’s opinion tends to be the permanent criminal record, and automatic loss of driving privileges for six months.
- Neighboring counties and cities in Northern Virginia have Commonwealth’s Attorneys who have drastically
differing views on marijuana, and as a result, certain case outcomes may be more likely in certain jurisdictions.
- If you already have a drug offense on your record, be very careful: a second offense will usually result in jail time if convicted.
- Be cognizant of DWI laws, and realize that even if you do not drink, an officer in Virginia can charge a driver with DWI for smoking marijuana and driving (or admitting he or she smoked and then got behind the wheel).
Explanations and additional comments from Marijuana Defense Lawyer and Fairfax Criminal Attorney, Brenton D. Vincenzes
(1) If an officer sees you violate a traffic law, you may be stopped. If stopped in a vehicle (as opposed to as a pedestrian), your rights are limited. First, you need to know that if you are stopped for violation of a traffic law, that does not give rise to an ability to search your vehicle. If an officer smells marijuana (despite marijuana also smelling like pine trees and skunk odor), probable cause may be derived and thus, the officer does not have to ask to search the vehicle. If there is a lack of probable cause, the officer may very well ask — and not demand — to search. If this is the case, you have a right to say no. Saying no and asserting your Constitutional rights will not be held against you in a court of law.
(2) Unfortunately an apology is legally pointless, and the well-meaning individual is effectively punished for making an admission of guilt. The men and women who go into law enforcement are usually good people. But they are doing a job they feel called to do; they are often conservative and would not see it your way even if they were not the one arresting you; and, they almost always are detached and prohibited from having non-robotic, empathetic discretion.
(3) I am referring to age-based stereotyping, or as some would call it, profiling.
(4) Other penalties include community service, fines, and drug classes (for first offender program). However, a conviction will result in a suspended license for six months as well.
(5) Some jurisdictions have Commonwealth’s Attorney’s offices where it seems as if every prosecutor is on the same page as far as what they will or will not agree to do for a given charge. But in other jurisdictions, every prosecutor is different and has comparatively more discretion.
(6) While there is a general consensus it seems among most general district court judges that a first-offense marijuana possession charge should not result in jail time, there is a paradoxical effect in my view, in that the same judges tend to treat a second or subsequent drug or marijuana related conviction far more seriously.
(7) DWI as a result of alcohol consumption is still far more frequently charged. Most people who are charged with DWI — driving while intoxicated — as a result of alleged marijuana use are charged after making an incriminating statement. Remember: you do not have to answer questions without having a lawyer present!
Ask for a free Virginia possession of marijuana legal defense consultation today:
Request an online, in-person, or telephone discussion with our Northern Virginia and local Fairfax Criminal Attorney:
Call us: 703.665.3719, or leave a message online.
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