Drug Offenses are some of the most common criminal offenses. Convictions of these criminal offenses will result in you have a criminal record and will cause major disruptions to a person’s life. Even the mere allegation that a person possessed or possessed with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, can cause them to be expelled from school or terminated from their job.
From marijuana to heroin and every substance in between, all drug offenses should be taken very seriously. If you are convicted of a drug offense, in addition to the prospect of jail and high fines, you risk losing your license, federal education loan benefits, government subsidies, and more.
As hard as Virginia laws are on drug offenders, there are important statutes that, if applied properly, help you beat a Virginia drug charge. It is surprising to realize how many lawyers do not know of these statutes and can not apply them properly in argument.
An experienced Virginia Drug Lawyer can save you from the possible deleterious affects a drug conviction can have on your family, livelihood, and potential. By hiring an experience lawyer who is well versed in drug offenses, you can seriously mitigate and likely beat your Virginia drug offense.
Challenging Drug Offenses in Virginia involves the following:
- The Stop: A careful look at the initial interaction with law enforcement and its validity.
- The Search: An in depth analysis of the constitutionality of the search that lead to the recovery of the substance.
- Statements: Were the statements voluntarily given, the result of a knowing and intelligent waiver of Miranda, or covered by some exception.
- Possession: Actual or Constructive – was the substance found on the person or close enough to the person that they could exercise dominion and control.
- Knowledge: Consider whether the possession was knowingly and intentional. A person must know the nature and character of the substance.
- Analysis of the Substance: How was the substance initially analyzed to determine what classification it is. Field test or sent to lab.
- Ensuring all rights protected. DC-308 is a form that must be provided to the defendant informing him or her of the right to have the substance analyzed by the lab.
What substance have you been charged with possession or distributing? Click below to learn more.
- Prescription Drugs
Despite changing public opinion on the issue, Marijuana is still illegal in Virginia. And the possession, distribution, and manufacture of Marijuana carries serious consequences.
Possession of Marijuana: (§ 18.2-250.1 of the Code of Virginia)
In Virginia, the knowing or intentional possession of marijuana is illegal. A first offense of possession of marijuana is a Misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine not more than $500.00. All second and subsequent offenses are punishable as a Class 1 Misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500.00). In addition to these penalties and regardless of whether the offense occurred in a motor vehicle, § 18.2-259.1 of the Code of Virginia proscribes a license suspension for a mandatory six months for any conviction of possession of marijuana.
EXCEPTIONS: If the person possesses marijuana that was obtained directly from or pursuant to a valid prescription issued by a doctor in the course of his practice, the possession is lawful. Furthermore, law enforcement officers may possession marijuana when it is necessary for the performance of their duties.
NO PRESUMPTIONS: Under Virginia law, § 18.2-250.1 specifically states that there is no presumption that a person knowingly or intentionally possessed marijuana merely because a person owns or occupies the premises or vehicle where the marijuana is found.
Knowing your rights before you have the interaction with the police can potentially save you from being charged in the first place – CLICK HERE.
DRUG OFFENSES: PROTECTING YOURSELF
- REMAIN SILENT – This means not answering the police EVER or AT ALL.
- CONSENT TO NOTHING – Do not agree to a search, do not agree to answer questions – agree to nothing.
- KEEP WALKING – If a cop approaches you and says can I ask you a few question, or can I speak to you, or even hello. Say nothing and keep walking. Make him stop you.
WHY? If you have drugs on you, make the officer ‘seize you.’ If the officers orders you to stop, searches you despite you not giving consent, and forces you to make statements under duress or coercion, they need to justify it under the Constitution. If it is not justified, it is not lawful and you WIN. All to often individuals make the case for the officer by consenting and confessing. Do not let this happen to you.
Assertive and successful defenses start the moment the interaction with the officer starts. A lawyer can not win a case for you when you have cooperated fully with law enforcement. With prior law enforcement experience, its hard to give this advice. Most times, you want to strike a balance between being cooperative and protecting yourself. When in doubt, say nothing, agree to nothing, and ask if you can leave. Be polite and do not make the officers job harder than it already is. If he tells you turn around, turn around but only when he ‘orders’ you to do it.