The definition of possession includes physically carrying the substance, having the drug within reach, or housing the marijuana in a personal space within a vehicle or residence. Virginia enforces strict regulations on possession of marijuana which can vary depending on the unique situation.
Being Arrested for Possession of Marijuana in Virginia
If arrested for possession, individuals may be charged and found guilty according toCriminal Code § 18.2-251. According to Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-250.1., anyone found in violation of the law will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries the penalties of up to 30 days in jail and/or fines of up to $500. The court may rule that further proceedings be deferred and a judgment handed down of conditional probation if the individual who was arrested has had no prior convictions or offenses of any crime including charges related directly apply to marijuana, narcotic or prescription medication possession.
Substance Abuse Assessment/Educational Programs
Many times, individuals who are charged with possession of marijuana are required to participate in a mandatory substance abuse assessment or/in addition to enrolling in a drug education program. Depending on the severity of the charge and the individual’s criminal history, it may also be mandatory to enter a substance abuse treatment center. These services must be provided by a licensed Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse agency, the Department of Corrections, a local community-based agency or through an ASAP program that has certification from the Commission on VASAP.
Costs of Assessments and Rehabilitation
If the court requires substance abuse assessment and rehabilitation, the offender remains responsible for part or all of the costs of the program. These expenses include the cost of an assessment, screening, testing and possible necessary treatment. This stipulation is based on the individual’s ability to pay as determined by the court.
Once on probation, the individual must complete the required educational and treatment programs and must remain alcohol and drug free during the probationary period. The offender must also submit to periodic substance testing to ensure compliance to court mandates. Probation officers or other allocated agencies will perform the testing. Individuals may also be required to find employment, maintain a job and perform up to 100 hours of community service.
Loss of License
When placed on probation, the individual is considered guilty of a conviction and may lose their license for up to six months according to Criminal Codes §§ 18.2-259.1, 22.1-315 and 46.2-390.1. The court trying the marijuana possession case will be responsible for ordering the disposal of the operator’s license and will also notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of the conviction and license forfeiture.
According to Criminal Code § 18.2-271.1., in the event of extenuating circumstances, the court may allow an individual to have a restricted license. The order will contain all of the details of the restrictions. The Department of Motor Vehicles and the offender will both receive a copy of the order. If at any time after the court offers a ruling, the individual violates the terms of probation by not adhering to the terms of the restricted license or by not remaining drug-free, the offense will be reported to the court for further ruling.
Charges Involving Minors
Unless having authorization, it is illegal for anyone 18 years of age or older to distribute marijuana or any substance to a minor under the age of 18, which is considered a Class 6 felony. Individuals may also not influence a minor to assist in distributing marijuana or other substances. Anyone violating this ordinance, arrested and convicted, faces between 10 and 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. The individual will automatically receive a mandatory sentence of two years if the crime involves less than one ounce. The court will automatically hand down a mandatory sentence of five years if the crime involves one or more ounces of marijuana.
How we can help you
Being charged with possession of marijuana can carry some serious penalties. If you are charged with possession of marijuana, it is important that you educate yourself on Virginia’s laws and regulations. Hiring an attorney can help you negotiate your charge and in some cases can have your charged lowered to a less serious charge or even dropped. Don’t gamble with your future. If you are charged with possession of Marijuana in Virginia, hire a criminal defense attorney and make sure your rights are protected. Call Tucker, Nong and Associates today to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer today.