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Fairfax Criminal Defense Blog

2022 CHANGES TO VIRGINIA LAW: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Oct 19, 2022

This year, several changes were made to Virginia law, many of which could affect the choices people make on an everyday basis. Some of the more notable shifts include the removal of ticket quotas for law enforcement and changes to penalties for marijuana possession.

At Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., in Fairfax, VA, John Kassabian stays on top of any and all changes to the code of law in the Virginia Commonwealth. Doing so allows him to craft the best defenses for his clients. That, in combination with years of experience, makes John an exemplary criminal defense lawyer.

CHANGES TO LAWS AROUND MARIJUANA POSSESSION

There has been a rollback of sorts to the recreational marijuana use. A new law, effective July 1, 2022, makes it illegal for people to possess more than four ounces of marijuana in public.

Anyone found in possession of over four ounces (and under one pound) of marijuana can be charged with a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a $500 fine. Any subsequent offenses are upgraded to a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months jail time. The new law includes the possession of edible marijuana products—although they are not made entirely of the marijuana plant. If one is not careful, one could easily inadvertently break this law by carrying marijuana edibles in public.

CHANGES TO POLICING PROCEDURES

One significant change to the legal code is the prohibition of “arrest or summons quota[s].” This may be interpreted as a formal, stated quota or as an unspoken expectation. The idea behind this new law is eliminating the pressure for law enforcement to make arrests or issue tickets as a means of determining that officer's effectiveness. The spirit of the new law seems also to suggest that the lack of pressure will allow officers to make more measured calls when it comes to issuing tickets or performing arrests.

Additionally, the use of facial recognition technology for the basis of an arrest has been prohibited. The technology may still be used in some other cases, such as ascertaining the identity of a victim (in combination with other methods).

NEW CLASS 6 FELONY

Prior to July 1, 2022, theft of or tampering with a catalytic converter was classed as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Since July 1, that penalty has been increased to a Class 6 Felony, punishable by between one and five years of jail time and/or up to $2,500 in fines.

This punishment increase is meant to deter the theft of catalytic converters; people who steal them often do so because they can be stripped and the metals they are made from sold. Because the value of the metals has been increasing, so too has the number of thefts been rising.

THAT'S NOT ALL, FOLKS

When these new laws go into effect, it can be difficult for people not intricately involved in the legal system to understand their impact. That's why John Kassabian makes certain that he is well versed in the nuances and adjustments to laws, in order to be able to craft the best defenses for his clients. If you have been recently arrested or charged, contact John now to make an appointment for a free consultation. He can help you.

About the Author

John A. Kassabian

John A. Kassabian joined the family firm in 2002 after having served as a Prosecutor in Fairfax County and Prince William County. Specializing in criminal defense, traffic defense and civil related matters, John has an extensive criminal law background and has handled a wide variety of cases for ...

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