Possession Of Marijuana Penalties

With the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and with many other states considering decriminalization or full legalization, it is still important to remember that it is still illegal to use or possess marijuana in the state of Virginia. A marijuana conviction has very serious penalties, as well as numerous ramifications to your future.

Possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana is called simple possession or possession for personal use. But if you are convicted of knowingly or intentionally possessing marijuana, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. First offenses are punishable by imprisonment for up to 30 days and/or a fine of up to $500. Subsequent offenses may be punishable by a term of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2500.

Being arrested with a large quantity of marijuana is not automatically ‘intent to distribute’ in the state of Virginia. The burden of proof is still on the state. However, the severity of punishment for conviction varies based on how much marijuana was present.

For a quantity more than half an ounce and less than 5 lbs, this qualifies as a Class 5 felony, punishable by 1-10 years of jail time. There is some leeway for first offenders. A judge may, at his or her discretion, sentence an offender to a jail term of not more than 12 months and a fine not to exceed $2500.

Distributing more than 5 lbs, but less than 100 kg is punishable by 5-30 years in prison, and a conviction with more than 100 kg of marijuana is a mandatory 20 year minimum sentence

Marijuana and other drug arrests may have very serious consequences on a person’s long-term goals. At the very least all drug convictions require a 6 month suspension of driver’s license. For these reasons alone it is worth talking to a qualified marijuana and drug attorney with extensive experience in the Fairfax court system. Call our offices today for a free consultation:  (703) 934-0101.

The Virginia 251 Program

The Virginia 251 Program is an excellent option for individuals charged with a first offense drug possession in the state of Virginia. The program is named after section 18.2-251 of the Virginia state code. The law provides an opportunity to have the drug possession case continued for some period of time.

During that time, the accused must avoid any other illegal behavior, perform community service, and take drug classes. If the accused is successful in meeting the conditions of the 251 program, then the case against the accused will be dismissed. The judge will determine the specific terms of probation and community service.

  • The accused must successfully complete treatment or an education program.
  • The accused must remain drug and alcohol free during the period of probation and submit to tests during that period.
  • The accused must make reasonable efforts to secure and maintain employment.
  • The accused must comply with a plan of at least 100 hours of community service for a felony and up to 24 hours of community service for a misdemeanor.
  • Testing will be overseen by the supervising probation agency.

For more information about the Virginia 251 Program, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Virginia Drug Attorney.

Increase in George Mason Drug Arrests

In 2009, officers working for the George Mason police department made 11 drug arrests. Just two years later, their number increased to 120 arrests in 2011. Arrests for drugs found on the George Mason campus are handled in the Fairfax County General District Court. They are processed the same as drug and marijuana arrests throughout Fairfax.

These numbers come from the University’s Fire and Safety Report. The statistics were first reported by the Washington Post. The paper cites Police Chief Mike Lynch as denying an increase in police as the cause of the spike. Rather, the Chief believes the increases are based on the type of concerts recently booked by the Mason Campus’ Patriot Center.

The Chief says that these concerts attract crowds that aren’t always students. And that at some of these concerts drug and marijuana use is rampant. The chief specifically cites one concert that resulted in 40 arrests to drug and marijuana charges alone.

Marijuana and other drug arrests on the GMU campus are handled the same as arrests anywhere else in Fairfax County. That means that every arrested person has certain rights. It also means that the arrest may have very serious consequences on a person’s long-term goals. At the very least all drug convictions require a 6 month suspension of driver’s license. For these reasons alone it is worth talking to a qualified marijuana and drug attorney with extensive experience in the Fairfax court system.

Charged With Possession With Intent To Distribute (PWID)?

if you have been charged with Possession With Intent To Distribute (PWID) any of the following drugs:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Crack
  • Heroin
  • PCP
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cathinone
  • Ecstasy
  • LSD
  • Psilocybin (a.k.a. mushrooms)

or another controlled substances under Virginia Code: 18.2-248, 18.2-248.1, 18.2-248.03, you need an experienced Northern Virginia PWID Attorney, like former Fairfax County Prosecutor Faraji Rosenthall, who has handled hundreds of PWID cases in Fairfax, Alexandria, & Manassas VA.

PWID drug cases can be very complex because they typically deal  with circumstantial evidence. The most common circumstantial evidence used to prove PWID is “quantity” such as, possessing a large amount that would be inconsistent with personal use. Another circumstantial point would be the drug “packaging”, which would create the intent for a retail sale, not for personal use. There are other factors that can and will have an impact on your PWID drug case.

The penalty associated with a PWID conviction largely depends on the type of drug in possession and where it falls under the Virginia “Adopted Schedule” for illicit substances.

If the drug in possession was marijuana, the penalty can reach up to 30 years in prison. The maximum penalty for other drugs can range from 40 years to life in prison. The penalties associated with a PWID conviction can be very harsh. You are facing mandatory jail time in many cases, if you are convicted.

A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony drug possession or possession with intent to distribute (PWID) in Northern Virginia can have serious consequences on career and civil freedoms. Take these charges seriously. Call the Law Offices of Faraji Rosenthall for a free consultation to discuss your PWID Drug case with Faraji Rosenthall today. Mr Rosenthall is also an experienced Fairfax, Alexandria & Manassas DWI Lawyer.