My Problem with the First Offender Program as a Virginia Marijuana Lawyer and Defense Attorney


As a Northern Virginia Marijuana Lawyer, Many of My Clients are Worried About their Criminal Record

As a Northern Virginia criminal defense attorney, I handle a wide variety of matters involving all types of criminal charges. One of the most frequently charged offenses — and the most frequently charged drug offense — is possession of marijuana.

Virginia marijuana lawyerWhile laws change and policies shift, Virginia law remains in a state of prohibition (at least for now). A first time marijuana possession conviction can lead to 30 days in jail and hundreds of dollars in fines. Furthermore, it will result in loss of driving privileges for six months.

But the worst thing about a marijuana possession conviction is the permanent record you will have, because if you plead guilty, are found guilty, or take the first-offender case dismissal option, you will not qualify for expungement.

Many people learn of the first offender program and think it sounds like a great idea. As a Virginia marijuana lawyer, I carefully explain to my clients the pros and cons. The main problem (in most people’s view), the fact that the case is dismissed still prevents that person from qualifying for an expungement. If a person is able to expunge a record, then the record of the arrest (or charge) is sealed, meaning only a person with a court order could feasibly find out about an expunged charge. This includes both the case disposition and the arrest/charge itself.

A criminal record in Virginia is for life. And even though this particular charge is a misdemeanor, it still is one with a certain element of taboo…in other words, a conviction or even mere record of the charge could pose a threat to future employment opportunities, and any endeavor requiring a clean background check. Some government agencies also have strict requirements when it comes to accepting or employing individual’s with criminal records. And since most of the charged individual’s are in their twenties, there could not be a more important period of life to keep a record flawless.

Call our Virginia Marijuana Lawyer if…

  • You currently charged with a marijuana offense (possession, distribution, growing, etc)
  • You were charged in the past, but not convicted because you either were found not guilty, or the charge was dropped (nolle prosequi)

Feel free to call at 703.665.3719 to discuss any traffic infraction or criminal charge. Our firm is located in Fairfax, and our Fairfax criminal lawyer and Virginia defense attorney serves people who are required to appear before the courts in all Northern Virginia counties and cities. Find out if your case has a possible technical defense; request a free consult from our Virginia marijuana lawyer today by calling the number above, or using the consultation request form (or visit the contact page via the main menu).

image credit: “Stinging Nettle” by franky242 via

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Brenton D. Vincenzes is a lifelong Fairfax County resident and Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer. He is a member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National College of DUI Defense, NORML, and has been awarded the following in 2014-15: Top 100 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Nationally Ranked Top 10 Under 40 Defense Attorney (National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys) 10 Best in Client Satisfaction for Criminal Defense (American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys) Nationally Ranked Top 1% Attorney Award Recipient (National Association of Distinguished Counsel) As a local leader, Mr. Vincenzes mentors troubled youths, volunteers his time to serve at his church, takes select pro bono clients, and strives to improve the community. Mr. Vincenzes represents men, women, and juveniles through zealous and diligent advocacy, strategic planning, and skilled trial work preparation. Mr. Vincenzes' areas of criminal law practice are broad, and include most felonies and misdemeanors such as: reckless driving, DUI & DWI, drug offenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, assault on an officer, destruction of property, alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, fraud, and other theft offenses, and moving traffic violations among others. His private legal services are available in most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Stafford County, Alexandria, Manassas, Leesburg, South Riding, and other cities and towns.


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