First Time Marijuana Possession in Virginia
The severity of the potential consequences following a conviction of any drug charge depends on many factors, including the amount and type of the substance found. In Virginia, a first-time marijuana possession offense is treated differently than a subsequent offense. Speak to your local Fairfax criminal lawyer for a free case evaluation if you live in Northern Virginia, or if you have been charged while in Northern Virginia.
Virginia Marijuana Possession
Virginia marijuana possession: first-time offense
A first time marijuana possession charge in Virginia is an “unclassified” type of misdemeanor. In other words, if convicted, the sentence that could be imposed does not fall squarely into any of the four main misdemeanor classes. If charged under Virginia Code Section 18.2-250.1 as a first time-offender, a conviction could lead to:
- up to thirty (30) days in jail
- a $500 fine (or both)
- loss of driving privileges (common)
If found guilty, a first-time offender could also face other consequences, such as a drug addiction evaluation and/or a drug abuse program.
Virginia marijuana possession: subsequent offense (s)
A subsequent possession charge, however, is treated more seriously and is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia. Again, the court may order a drug abuse screening or participation in a drug-treatment related program. Visit the Misdemeanor Penalties Page for information on the differences between misdemeanor classes in Virginia. A Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia can be punished by the following maximum prison sentence and monetary fine:
- up to a year in prison; and/or
- up to a $2,500 fine.
Exclusive Possession Not Required
To convict a person charged with possession of marijuana, it is not necessary for the Commonwealth to prove that the marijuana belonged exclusively to the defendant. It is possible to be convicted of marijuana possession even if several people are alleged to have been mutual possessors. What is required, however, is an awareness of the presence of the substance. The mere fact that marijuana has been found in a person’s vehicle or home does not give rise to an inference of possession.
“The drugs do not belong to me”
The police sometimes charge individuals with possession or distribution of a controlled substance, even when the illegal substance was not found on that person. The term for this is “constructive possession,” and in court, the prosecution must prove that a person actually had an awareness of the presence of the illegal contraband, among other things. This is just one example of the subtle nuances best explained by a qualified defense lawyer. Speak with your local Fairfax criminal lawyer and drug possession defense attorney if charged in Fairfax County.
Do You Need a Virginia or Fairfax Criminal Lawyer?
If faced with a a first time marijuana offense in Virginia, please realize that a Virginia criminal lawyer is in the best position to explain to you the possible fines, consequences, and options specific to each unique case. If you have been charged in Fairfax County or Prince William County, contact a local Fairfax criminal lawyer or Prince William County criminal lawyer for a case evaluation.
see Virginia Code § 18.2-251
“Marijuana Leaf” by Paul courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
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