Roanoke, VA Marijuana Possession Lawyer
In Virginia, it is unlawful for a person to intentionally possess marijuana, unless the substance was obtained pursuant to a prescription from a doctor. Any person found violating this law can be found guilty of a misdemeanor, confined to jail for up to thirty days, and fined up to $500.
However, the penalties can be more severe for subsequent violations or if the government alleges a more substantial offense (such as trafficking), which can result in a:
- Felony Criminal Conviction
- Driver’s License Suspension
- Expensive Fines
Even misdemeanor first offense possession charges can have serious consequences that can have long-lasting effects on a person’s future.
If you have been charged with marijuana possession, we invite you to call experienced Roanoke, Virginia marijuana possession lawyer and firm founder Mark Hurt as soon as possible, so we can assess your circumstances and potentially begin building a strong defense for a dismissal or lessened charges.
Mark graduated from Duke Law School with honors, and he has practiced law for over 30 years. Mark has represented clients at all state court levels in Virginia, in federal court, and before the United States Supreme Court. He takes every case seriously, and is tenacious in opposing the efforts of the prosecution to convict.
I Wasn’t Arrested but Was Issued a Summons. Is this Serious?
Many individuals charged with first offense possession of marijuana will be issued a summons, rather than being arrested. Often, this leads to a presumption that the citation is not a severe legal violation. However, this is not the case.
If you were issued a summons, you may still be facing a misdemeanor and other stiff penalties, such as:
- A mandatory six-month loss of your driver’s license (even if you were not driving at the time of the arrest)
- Up to thirty days in jail
- One year of probation
- Stiff Fines
Because these consequences can be steep, it is important that you have an experienced marijuana defense attorney review your case to determine the best course of action.
Are there any Defenses to Fight a Virginia Possession of Marijuana Charge?
Under Virginia Law, prosecutors must show that possession of marijuana was knowing or intentional. This requires proving that a defendant:
- Was aware of the presence and character of the drug, and
- Possessed the Marijuana.
Possession can be difficult for the government to prove, as merely having marijuana within close proximity is not enough to establish custody.
Many times, a prosecutor will have difficulty establishing actual possession and will argue “constructive possession”, meaning that they will offer circumstantial evidence (such as statements by police officers, acts, or the conduct of a defendant) to persuade a judge or jury into inferring possession. An experienced marijuana possession lawyer can help refute statements and evidence, making it difficult for a prosecutor to establish the required elements for possession of marijuana.
Intent to Distribute
In some cases, the government will argue for stiffer charges under VA Code 18.2-248.1, the possession with intent to distribute (“PWID”) statute. Prosecutors and police officers will consider a number of factors when determining whether to charge a defendant with intent to distribute marijuana, including:
- How the marijuana was packaged. If the substance was split into multiple bags, this is typically an indicator of intent to distribute.
- The presence of measuring devices. If an officer finds scales or other equipment used for measuring out drugs, it is likely that PWID charges will follow.
- The amount of marijuana. Generally, small amounts of marijuana are indicative of personal use, while large amounts may evince a desire to sell the product.
- The defendant’s behavior. Police officers can testify at a hearing and can utilize your testimony or actions against you.
- Having a large amount of money. Having large amounts of cash money on hand may raise suspicions, as many police officers will assume that the cash is drug money from previous transactions.
Keeping these factors in mind, if you are suspected of possession, it is important that you do not consent to any searches and that you assert your right to remain silent.
There are several effective ways that we defend these types of causes, from asserting constitutional issues (such as arguing that the stop or search violated the Fourth Amendment) to challenging the government’s witnesses and proof. As an experienced Roanoke marijuana possession firm, we are well versed in aspects of defending against charges of possession of or intent to distribute marijuana.
If the Search Was Illegal, the Government May be Required to Dismiss
In most cases, if a stop or search was illegal, the prosecution will be compelled to dismiss all charges. There is usually little discretion in these matters, as prosecutors cannot ethically bring a case if they know that a search violated a defendant’s constitutional rights. Where there is a reason to do so, we will make this and other arguments to the prosecution. Because prosecutors do not like to lose, especially in issues of illegal searches, they are often willing to dismiss charges completely or agree to significantly reduced charges.
This Was My First Offense – Can I Get My Charges or Penalties Reduced?
Virginia law allows marijuana possession lawyers to pursue deferred charges and penalties for clients without previous drug-related convictions. If the court agrees to a deferral or reduction, you will have a clean record and may be given probation in lieu of other stricter penalties.
Typically, your case will be deferred (delayed until a later date) pending the completion of a probation period and the satisfaction of any conditions stipulated by the court. Often, violators must complete education programs, submit to random drug screenings, be employed or seeking employment, and complete community service. Additionally, driving privileges are typically suspended for six months. After satisfying all requirements, the offense will be removed from your permanent record, helping to eliminate trailing consequences.
Why is Working with an Experienced Roanoke Marijuana Possession Lawyer Important?
Courts have a wide discretion to reduce or defer marijuana possession charges; as such, it is especially important to work with a Roanoke marijuana possession lawyer who is familiar with Virginia law and can make a persuasive argument in favor of issuing probation and/or reducing charges or penalties.
At the law offices of Mark T. Hurt, we can use our experience to advocate on your behalf and tenaciously fight for a pre-trial dismissal or the most lenient penalties possible. We will also take your case to trial and seek a dismissal or not guilty verdict if you choose this route. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn about possible defenses and how we may be able to help you and your case.
 VA Code § 18.2-250.1.