If you are a facing possession of marijuana offense, you should consult with an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney such as the Roanoke marijuana attorneys of Copenhaver, Ellett, & Derrico. They will be able to properly advise you of what realistically may happen in your case in addition to fight to preserve and protect your rights and future.
Possession of marijuana offenses occur frequently throughout Virginia as well as the entire country. In 2011, the FBI reported that every 42 seconds an arrest was made for marijuana. First time possession of marijuana offenders in Virginia can often incur serious penalties if convicted. You will not only face jail time, but also a fine and driver’s license suspension.
Many possession of marijuana cases are not clear cut. If you are facing a possession of marijuana charge, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced and skilled criminal attorney such as the Roanoke drug attorneys of Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico. Out lawyers have handled numerous possession of marijuana charges and have successfully been able to reduce or dismiss the charges for many of their clients.
Possession of Marijuana Defined
Possession of Marijuana is defined according to the Code of Virginia knowingly or intentionally possessing marijuana, unless the substance is obtained directly from a valid prescription or by order of a medical practitioner while in the course of his professional practice, or except as authorized by the Drug Control Act.
You cannot be prosecuted for possession of marijuana in Virginia if specific medical conditions are applicable to you. The Code of Virginia specifically indicates if you have a valid prescription that has been issued by a medical doctor for the treatment of cancer or glaucoma you cannot be prosecuted for the possession of marijuana.
Possession of marijuana in Virginia includes cannabis, “pot,” “bud,” “chronic,” “weed,” and “ganja.”
Possession of Marijuana Penalties
If you are found guilty of possession of marijuana in Virginia, it is a misdemeanor offense on your criminal record. A first offense carries up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for 6 months.
If you are found guilty of your second or subsequent possession of marijuana offense, you will have a Class 1 misdemeanor on your criminal record. You will face up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for 6 months.
Possession of one-half ounce of marijuana can be charged as trafficking. This is a felony offense that carries maximum penalties of ten to forty years in prison, depending on the quantity seized.
If you are an out-of-state resident charged with possession of marijuana in Virginia, it is important to be aware that you still may face additional sanctions in your home state as well. Most states receive up-to-date information regarding residents’ criminal records when an offense occurs in another state and may respond accordingly with a separate legal action, including the suspension of your driver’s license in your home state.
Defending Possession of Marijuana Charges
Regardless of what the facts and circumstances of your possession of marijuana case might be, there are defenses that can be raised on your behalf. The Roanoke Criminal Attorneys will take the time to examine what legal strategies are most appropriate in defending your case. Potential defenses include whether the arresting officer had probable cause or whether the encounter was consensual.
Proving or establishing the elements of possession of marijuana can be challenging for the Commonwealth of Virginia. To be convicted of possession of marijuana in Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were:
- Aware or had knowledge of the presence of the drug; and
- Had knowledge of the character of the drug; and
- You consciously possessed it.
Marijuana is possessed if it is in your dominion and control, even if it belongs to another person. For example, if you hide your friend’s marijuana as the police arrive, knowing it is marijuana, you control it, and marijuana is in your possession.
Constructive possession of marijuana occurs when marijuana is not in your physical possession, but dominion and control is established by circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence includes your actions, verbal statements, conduct, or other facts and circumstances that might show that you were aware or had knowledge of the presence and character of the marijuana.
In constructive possession cases, how close you were to the marijuana is not sufficient to prove you had possession of it. Nor is it sufficient to prove you own the property, occupy the hotel room, or rent the apartment in which the marijuana was found. The Commonwealth must prove that you owned the marijuana or controlled its placement. It is especially important to have an attorney well versed in the issues involved in constructive possession.
It may be possible that a plea can be negotiated with the prosecuting attorney. If this is your first possession of marijuana offense, you may be eligible for first offender treatment. This may result in a dismissal of the charges against you regardless of guilt.
Facing a marijuana charge in Virginia?
If you’ve been charged with a possession of marijuana crime in Virginia, the Roanoke drug attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment at our Roanoke office, call us at .