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POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA  18.2-250.1

Why you need a lawyer – Just look below:

Consequences of 18.2-250.1, simple possession of marijuana

  1. Six-month loss of license -restricted available only if in program
  2. Criminal misdemeanor conviction – potential jail time
  3. Community service & probation
  4. Drug & substance abuse classes
  5. Potential loss of current or future employment – failed security checks
  6. Random supervised urine screens

What the Law Offices of Christopher P. James can and will try to do:

Get the charged reducedamended or dismissed if possible by fully investigating the stop and arrest and filing a request for a Certificate of Analysis under 19.2-163 in which the court must have the marijuana tested by the forensic lab and timely filed with the court. If not filed timely, the marijuana cannot come in as evidence and this often results in a dismissal or reduction of the charge.

Certificate of Analysis:  The court has to test the substance if we request it and it has to be filed. They will grant the Commonwealth one continuance but often it takes the lab longer to get it back, sometimes they lose it, sometimes they mess up the paperwork. It is always wise to have one filed and not let them get by with a field test.

This should all be considered before opting for a deferral under code section 18.2-251, for the program for dismissal requires up to a year to complete and is very time consuming.

Why you were charged

In the state of Virginia, it is unlawful for anyone knowingly and intentionally to possess marijuana (unless prescribed medically). Anyone in violation of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and confined to jail not more than 30 days or fined up to $500 or both. A 2nd or subsequent conviction shall be a class one misdemeanor and result in jail time up to 12 months or a $2500 fine or both.

Defenses built into the statute itself

Upon prosecution of a person under this section, ownership or occupancy of the premises or vehicle in which the marijuana was found shall not create a presumption that such person knowingly or intentionally possessed such marijuana. This law itself may be your best defense.

First offender program under VA Code 18.2-251, not expungable

Virginia does have a first offender program which if fully completed will result in a dismissal of the charge; however, this dismissal is not expungable and the charge will remain on your criminal history, although marked as dismissed. The reason it is not expungable is to prevent people from using the program a second time, for if they don’t see it reflected in the record you could keep going into the program indefinitely each time you are charged.

The deferral program is good and effective but only good for people who are committed to complete it. It requires the following:

  1. Completion of 24 hours community service
  2. Substance abuse class with required attendance
  3. 6-month loss of license – restricted permit for work only
  4. Probation usually through local offenders (depending on county) & urine screens
  5. 12-month period of good behavior with a return to court
  6. Court costs for all of the above.

Yes it’s a lot of work, and your case should be fully investigated before committing.

Tips for not being charged with possession of marijuana:

  1. Do not carry anything on your person that’s illegal. If stopped in a car or after an arrest or at a party, the police will find it. Saying you are wearing someone else’s jacket does not work.
  2. Have your vehicle in proper order, no expired tags, burnt-out tail lights, etc., so you do not get pulled over in the first place.
  3. Do not get into a vehicle with someone you know who has illegal substances. The police will charge you too, thinking you are a part of the party even if you are not.
  4. You have few rights in your vehicle. If you hide controlled substances in your vehicle so that your parents or spouse will not find them in the house, they will find out quickly enough after the police charge you with possession after a routine traffic stop.
  5. Do not pester the police at a large party; if you confront them you will end up being the one being charged. That’s just life and the way it is.
  6. Do not wait for Virginia to become the next Colorado. Virginia ranks 49th out of 50 states in being considered conservative in regard to criminal laws.
  7. If you use illegal substances your home offers much more protection. If you sell drugs out of your home, the police have to have a warrant to get in. Your car or a public place offers no such protection.
  8. Concerts are monitored by police and parking lots are the worst. They will observe you from a distance, then approach and arrest or ticket you and ban you from the venue.
  9. Remember possession means “constructive possession”; even if it’s your friend’s pot and the police suspect your plans were to smoke it together, they will charge you both.
  10. Keep your car clean and in working order, do not have marijuana on your person, don’t smoke in public places or bother police at parties and your likelihood of being charged is slim. Most cases are from neglecting the above tips.