1. What are the varying types of drug crimes?
Drug crimes range from simple possession of paraphernalia all the way to distribution of large quantities of schedule I or II drugs. Paraphernalia is simply possessing a device used to take illegal drugs. This may include a syringe, bowl, or a bong. Of increasing seriousness is simple possession of marijuana. In increasing seriousness is possession of harder drugs, possession with intent to distribute/distribution of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute/distribution of hard drugs.
These are the most common criminal drug charges brought in state court. However, other charges are sometimes used. Regardless of what you are charged with the Rosenthall Law Office has the experience necessary to give you solid legal advice and representation.
2. How are they punishable?
Possession of paraphernalia is a class I Misdemeanor but is typically only punished with a fine. Possession of marijuana is an unclassified misdemeanor for the defendant’s first offense. Subsequent convictions become class I misdemeanor and are increasingly likely to carry a sentence of some jail time. Possession with intent to distribute small quantities of marijuana is a misdemeanor. Higher quantities (greater than 1/2 oz.) are punishable as a felony: Possession with intent to distribute. Distributions of hard drugs are all punishable as felonies. Potential outcomes vary widely depending on several factors including the facts of the case and the defendant’s prior record. For a detailed analysis of your case, contact us for a free consultation about your case.
3. What is the 251 program?
The 251 program is an excellent option for individuals charged with drug possession in Virginia. The program is named after section 18.2-251 of the Virginia state code. The law provides an opportunity to have your case continued for some period of time. During that time, you must avoid any other illegal behavior, perform community service, and take some drug classes. If you are successful, the case against you will be dismissed. The specific terms of probation and community service will be determined by the judge.
4. Am I 251 eligible?
Getting into the program is up to the judge’s discretion. However, most judges will typically allow eligible individuals to participate. First time offenders with no drug convictions are eligible for the one-time only program.
5. What defenses exist?
All drug cases require the government to prove that the drug in question is actually an illegal narcotic. This must be down with scientific testing. As with any scientific process, there are a series of rules and regulations that must be followed. Unacceptable deviance from these standards can result in a dismissal or reduction of your charge. (Possession of paraphernalia is not classified as a drug offense, and therefore no license loss is required.)
Additionally, PWID & distribution charges may have quantity requirements that the government may not be able to establish. Scientific testing must show exactly how much of the drugs existed.
Possession with intent to distribute requires the government to prove what exactly an individual planned to do with the drugs. Without a specific statement of intent, it can be nearly impossible for the government to prove what was in a defendant’s mind. Almost every PWID charge has potential defenses.
Whether you are charged with possession, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute, the Rosenthall Law Office will work with you to determine if any defenses exist in your case. Contact our office today to discuss the facts of your case.
6. Do all offenses carry a license suspension?
Yes. Unfortunately under Virginia Law, a conviction for any drug offense carries a mandatory 6 month loss of license. However, in certain circumstances a restricted license (allowing for driving to work and some other places) can be authorized.