What constitutes possession of marijuana in Virginia?
According to Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1,
“It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess marijuana unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.).”
A defendant can be convicted of possession of marijuana even if the marijuana is not directly on their person. This means that a defendant can be convicted of possession of marijuana even if they did not buy it.
If marijuana is found in the defendant’s proximity (i.e. their home or car), the Commonwealth must prove: (1) that the defendant was aware of the presence and nature of the substance; and (2) the defendant exercised dominion and control over it.
What are the penalties for possession of marijuana?
Simple possession of Marijuana is a misdemeanor and carries a punishment of jail up to 30 days and a fine up to $500. A second or any subsequent violation is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which holds a punishment of jail up to 1 year and a fine up to $2,500.
A conviction under 18.2-250.1 also requires a driver’s license suspension for 6 months, however a defendant can request for a restricted driver’s license during that time to go to work, school, and other necessary places. If convicted, you will also be asked to attend substance abuse classes as part of your sentence.
Why hire an attorney?
There are several points of issue in a Marijuana Possession case. Was it a legal stop of your car? If the traffic stop was legal, was it legal to do the search of your car? Was it legal to do a search of your person? Did you have medical reasons for using the marijuana? These are just some of the many questions an attorney examines when looking at your case.
An experienced criminal defense attorney from our office can help you successfully navigate all of these complicated legal issues to obtain a dismissal or a reduction in charge. Call now for a consultation.