While many people no longer believe that possession and use of marijuana should be a crime, possession of marijuana is still a criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you have been arrested for a marijuana offense in Virginia, you are facing serious penalties that include a jail or prison sentence, large fines, and suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, you will have a permanent criminal record that can have a long-term impact on your life. However, you do have options. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to build a defense to the charges that result in their dismissal or reduction to a lesser offense.
What Are Common Marijuana Drug Offenses in the Commonwealth of Virginia?
Although it is legal to possess recreational marijuana in many states, this is not the case in Virginia. The reality is that possession of a small amount of marijuana, or even marijuana residue, can come with harsh penalties. Here are some common offenses that you may be charged with:
- First offense possession. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1, marijuana is classified as an illegal controlled substance. To be convicted of this offense, the prosecutor must prove that you “knowingly or intentionally” possessed the marijuana. Generally, possession of small quantities of marijuana without any evidence of distribution is usually charged as a simple possession of marijuana. This is a class U, or unclassified, misdemeanor with a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense. In addition, your driver’s license will be suspended for six months. A misdemeanor conviction also results in a permanent criminal record.
- Second offense possession. A second offense possession charge would also fall under Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1. This is a class 1 misdemeanor, and you may be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail and fined a maximum of $2,500. As with other marijuana possession charges, you will also have your driver’s license suspended.
- Possession with intent to deliver. Virginia Code § 18.2-248.1 makes it illegal to possess any amount of marijuana with the intent to deliver it. If you are in possession no more than one-half ounce of marijuana, the offense is a class 1 misdemeanor with a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a $2,500 fine. Possession of between more than one-half ounce and five pounds is a class 5 felony that carries a prison sentence of one to ten years and a $2,500 fine. Possession with the intent to distribute more than five pounds of marijuana is an unclassified felony, punishable by five to thirty years in prison.
- 3rd offense possession with intent to distribute. A 3rd offense possession with intent to deliver charge under Virginia Code § 18.2-248.1 comes with very harsh penalties. This is a class U felony with a sentence of a minimum of 5 years in prison and up to life in prison and a $500,000 fine.
- Manufacturing marijuana. Virginia Code § 18.2-248.1 also makes it illegal to manufacture marijuana, and this is defined as the selling, sharing, trading, or gifting of it. This is a class U felony with a sentence of five to 30 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
- Selling marijuana to a minor. It is illegal under Virginia Code § 18.2-255 to distribute marijuana to a minor under 18 years old. It is a class U felony, but the penalty is much more serious than manufacturing marijuana—a sentence of 10 to 50 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
Let Our Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys Help You Pursue All Your Options
Are you facing marijuana drug charges? Even if you are guilty of the crime that you are charged with committing, you may have many defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. You have too much to lose to represent yourself in your criminal proceeding. To learn how our experienced criminal defense attorneys will aggressively fight the charges that you face, take advantage of our free consultation. Call our office today to schedule your appointment.