Possession of marijuana is a serious offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia and as such is taken seriously in Leesburg. If you are found guilty of a marijuana offense, you will lose your driver’s license in Virginia for 6 months and may also go to jail, and receive a substantial fine. This is all in addition to the fact that a conviction will stay on your indefinitely, potentially hurting employment and educational opportunities. As a result of these penalties, it is important to seek the aid of a Leesburg marijuana possession lawyer as soon as possible to begin building your defense. An experienced drug lawyer in Leesburg can help guide you through the legal process and prepare you for what to expect at each step of the way. To learn more or begin discussing your case, call and schedule a consultation today.
The prosecution of marijuana in Leesburg differs from the prosecution of other drugs in a number of different ways. First, marijuana is an unclassified substance according to the Commonwealth of Virginia. This means that possession of marijuana for the first offense falls into a special category, that of an unclassified misdemeanor. The unclassified misdemeanor possession of marijuana has a specific penalty for a first offense which is up to $500 fine and also up to 30 days in jail. This means that someone found guilty of a marijuana offense does not face the whole punishment for a Class 1 Misdemeanor but rather a special lesser punishment for a first offense. For second or subsequent offenses however, possession of marijuana is charged as a full Class 1 misdemeanor, meaning the person faces up to 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine, or a combination thereof.
Additionally, because marijuana is somewhat decriminalized or legalized depending on your view of the term in our neighboring State of Maryland and District of Columbia, Virginia understands that marijuana doesn’t have the same stigma that it used to. Therefore there are some practical applications for marijuana possession. However, Virginia has not decriminalized and certainly has not legalized the possession of marijuana. Therefore those who have been charged with the possession of marijuana offense in Leesburg should know they are facing a very serious charge and discuss their case with a marijuana possession attorney in Leesburg.
Even a first offense of marijuana possession carries a number of long-term implications. For example, an individual may lose their driver’s license for a period of 6 months, although a restricted license may be available as permitted by law. If they are an out-of-state driver, they lose their privilege to operate in Commonwealth of Virginia for the same period. Additionally, subsequent charges may be charged as possession of marijuana second or subsequent offense, meaning that they are full Class 1 misdemeanors and not lesser offenses.
In addition, convictions stay on a criminal record forever in Virginia. This means that the record of your possession charge will come up in during background checks, theoretically for the rest of your life, so there may be collateral consequences as a result for employment, for obtaining financing for loans, and even in circumstances such as student loans or housing opportunities.
Although many kinds of drug offenses have common defenses, possession of marijuana implicates certain areas of Virginia Code that apply specifically to that offense. Notably, possession of marijuana may be proven through field tests. Field tests are approved by the Division of Forensic Science and can be used in the absence of a full-on lab test that is required for other criminal offenses. However, when defending possession of marijuana offense it is important for the Leesburg marijuana possession lawyer to inform their client that they have the right to request a lab test. Oftentimes the lab test can be more helpful, but sometimes it may be harmful in marijuana possession case. If a lab test is ordered, it may require the prosecutor to gather more evidence to prove your guilt.
There is not typically leniency for marijuana possession from a judge or jury. Marijuana is still illegal in Virginia, and even though the media and some of our neighboring states have decriminalized it, you should not expect a judge or jury to view marijuana possession as a type of legal act per se.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law