Virginia Marijuana Possession FAQ

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Virginia Marijuana Lawyer:

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Marijuana Possession in Virginia FAQ

STOP: you should make sure you bookmark our Virginia Criminal Lawyer’s
Commonwealth of Virginia Cannabis Defense Resource Page

Is marijuana possession a serious offense in Virginia?

What is the Virginia Code Section pertinent to most possession of marijuana charges?

Can I be convicted of possession of marijuana if I did not know it was on me?

Is “Medical Marijuana” legal in Virginia?

If convicted of possession of marijuana, what penalties do I face?

If marijuana was found in my car but it is not mine, can I still get in trouble?

Will I get jail time as a first-time offender of the possession statute (18.2-250)?

Is possession of marijuana considered to be a serious offense in Virginia?

virginia marijuana lawyerAll charges, especially those related to drugs, should be considered serious charges.  Although marijuana use is becoming increasingly common as well as decriminalized in some states, Virginia is not one of them (at this time).  As such, many first time offenders are surprised to learn the “seriousness” of the potential consequences: they include up to 30 days in jail, a money fine, and even a six-month suspended license.

What is the Virginia Code Section for most possession of marijuana charges?

Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1. Possession of marijuana unlawful.  Section A tells us a lot about this particular law, including:

–          The “state of mind” on the part of the defendant;

–          The status of Medical Marijuana in Virginia;

–          What, if anything, is presumed if marijuana is found in a vehicle?

–          What are the penalties a defendant faces if convicted of possession of marijuana?

Read the following answers to find out Virginia’s treatment of the above legal issues.

Can I be convicted of possession of marijuana if I did not know it was on me?

If you were unaware that the marijuana was in your possession… (e.g., in your pockets, backpack, vehicle, etc…), you are not in violation of this statute.  This is because Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1. tells us that it is unlawful to “knowingly or intentionally” possess marijuana (unless the rare exception applies).

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Virginia?

There is seemingly a medical exception in the statute: “[It is unlawful to knowingly/intentionally possession marijuana]…unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.).

With this in mind, the Commonwealth of Virginia is not considered a “marijuana-friendly” state.  While many states in the U.S. are moving toward decriminalization or broad medical marijuana exceptions, residents of Virginia and particularly visitors from more marijuana-friendly states should keep in mind the legal status if charged.  A Northern Virginia Marijuana Possession Lawyer can help you understand your charges and the aspects of Virginia law necessary to completely comprehend your case and its potential ramifications for your life.

If I am found guilty of possession of Marijuana, what penalties do I face?

Violation of Virginia Code § 18.2-250 (Marijuana Possession Code Section) is listed as “a misdemeanor.”  However, for a subsequent offense, the statute states that the offense is a “Class 1 misdemeanor.” The potential consequences, if convicted, include: jail for up to 30 days, and/or a fine of up to $500.

What if Marijuana was found in my car?

The Code Section (18.2-250.1 part A) reads in part, “…Upon the prosecution of a person for violation of this section, ownership or occupancy of the premises or vehicle upon or in which marijuana was found shall not create a presumption that such person either knowingly or intentionally possessed such marijuana.”

This tells us that just because the marijuana was found in your vehicle, there must be additional evidence that it belonged to you…it does not create a presumption.

Can a first time offender for a possession of marijuana charge get jail time?

It is possible.  However…

Our Virginia marijuana lawyer thinks you should consider the following:

It may be possible to receive probation instead of jail time if charged with possession of marijuana under Virginia Code section 18.2-250.  According to Code Section 18.2-251, a first-time offender may be placed on probation as part of the “terms and conditions” to defer further proceedings (and therefore, potentially help the defendant reach a more favorable judgment and/or consequence(s)).  Drug tests may be required, among others listed in the statute.

Our Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney Suggests These Links

Why the first offender program is not a great choice for many facing a marijuana criminal charge

The main Virginia marijuana law information section: learn about the penalties, types of marijuana offenses, and some defense theories

Longer article on marijuana laws regarding first time offenders and expungement

All about expungement

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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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