Though recreational and medicinal marijuana is starting to become legal in many states across the country, Virginia still considers possession of marijuana a crime. Since marijuana is becoming increasingly more legal, many people may think a marijuana possession charge will just be a slap on the wrist and have no adverse legal or collateral consequences. However, this is not true in Virginia. A marijuana possession charge may result in jail time, fines and loss of driving privileges. At Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., we believe a possession of marijuana charge should not ruin your future, take away your driving privileges and label you as a criminal forever. We will fight to ensure your rights, freedom and future are protected.
What is a Possession of Marijuana Charge?
According to Virginia Code Section 18.2-250.1. you will be convicted of possession of marijuana if it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed marijuana knowingly and intentionally.
The concept of intent is important for possession of marijuana charges. If your criminal defense attorney can establish that you did not know you were in possession of marijuana, you may have a valid defense to the charge. Penalties may increase if you are found guilty of intent to sell or distribute marijuana, if you were on school property or within a certain distance of school property. It is very important to employ the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., are extremely experienced handling possession of marijuana charges, and are committed to resolve your case favorably.
What Are the Penalties for a Possession of Marijuana Charge?
If it is your first offense, you will be charged with an unclassified misdemeanor, that can bring penalties of up to 30 days in jail, and/or up to a $500 in fines, and a 6-month driver's license suspension. A second offense of marijuana possession is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500, and a 6-month driver's license suspension.
Besides jail time and fines, a marijuana conviction can have an adverse impact on other areas of your life, to include college applications, obtaining or maintaining security clearances, obtaining a government job, lease applications or immigration consequences.
Virginia's First Offender Program
Virginia courts are less harsh on first time offenders and offer a first offender program. According to Virginia Code Section 18.2-251, first-time marijuana possession offenders may be placed on probation instead of being convicted of a possession of marijuana crime. In this program, an individual will likely be required to enroll in drug educational programs, complete 24 hours of community service, and submit to drug testing, possible 6-months suspension of your driver's license or ability to operate a motor vehicle in Virginia and payment of court programs and court costs. Individuals who successfully complete the 18.2-251 deferred finding requirements will have the charge dismissed. It is important to recognize that even though the possession of marijuana charge may be dismissed pursuant to this deferred finding, you will not be entitled to an expungement of the police and court records of the possession of marijuana charge, which will appear on your criminal record forever.