Marijuana Charges – How We Protect Your Rights if You’ve Been Arrested

In Virginia, a possession of marijuana conviction can have serious consequences.  Marijuana possession is typically a misdemeanor offence in Virginia, punishable by up to 30 days in jail for the first time, and up to 1 year for those convicted for the second time.  Additionally, first convictions can also result in a fine of up to $500, and up to $2,500 for a second time.

More importantly, a conviction for marijuana possession can have significant and long-term consequences for matters such as future employment, in which criminal convictions can have a determinantal effect on getting a job.

Don’t Gamble with your Future – Get the Experienced Representation That You Need Today!

Firm attorney Stephanie Pease has 17 years of experience in representing those charged with marijuana possession.  Ms. Peace is tenacious in seeking to fully protect the innocence of clients, and vigorously challenges at every stage the efforts of prosecutors to convict.  Such efforts may include, where appropriate, challenging evidence that may have been subject to an illegal search and seizure, challenging witness and police statements, and seeking to have charges dismissed where evidence was obtained illegally.

We’re Available 24/7, and We Accept Credit Card Payments

We have live phone answering 24/7, so if you are charged with marijuana possession, please call us.  We also accept credit card payments.

Representing Clients Throughout Southwest Virginia

From our Abingdon, Virginia office, we represent clients throughout Southwest Virginia, including Russell, Smyth, Scott, Washington, Wythe, Bland, and Carroll Counties.  We frequently represent clients in these counties, and are familiar with the courts and the prosecutors in these locations.

What You Should Know About the Criminality of Marijuana Possession

The laws governing marijuana possession are rapidly changing throughout the United States. Some states have de-criminalized marijuana possession entirely, while a number of other states have made marijuana possession and use legal so long as the person has obtained a medical prescription.  Nonetheless, here is Virginia, marijuana possession remains illegal under both state and federal law.

Are There Opportunities to Get the Charges Dismissed or Reduced?

There are a number of ways a case may go.  First, the charges may be dismissed, which may occur in response to a number of circumstances and factors.  Second, a client may plead guilty to either the original charges or to reduced charges, and, in some cases, a client may to plead guilty under what is known as a “251” dismissal, which is a diversionary program for first time offenders.  Third, a client may opt to go to trial.  In your case, you ultimately will make a decision either to plead guilty or to take your case to trial.

If I’m a First Time Offender, Should I Accept the 251 Diversionary Program?

It depends.

Virginia’s 251 Program[1] is enticing – it offers the possibility of dismissal upon the successful completion of the diversionary program, and it is only available to first-time offenders.

There are a number of requirements of this program, including:

  • Mandatory probation (often for 12 months)
  • Routine drug testing
  • Driver’s license suspension (however, the court can be asked for limited driving privileges, such as to get to work or school)
  • Completion of the Virginia Safety Action Program (VASP), including paying $350 plus associated court costs
  • Completion of court-ordered community service (typically 24 hours)

If a person fails any of these matters, the person will then be sentenced (as they have already previously agreed to plead guilty); so anyone considering this option should carefully consider the program requirements and the associated ramifications if compliance is not met, as they will not later have any opportunity to fight the charges.

Additionally, it is important to note that the 251 Plea will still be on a person’s record.  Some employers – like those in which security is an important consideration, and perhaps also government employers – may treat the 251 Plea as simply a conviction; thus the benefits may not be as good as they initially seem.

Further, if the person involved is not a United States citizen, there may also be immigration issues associated with a 251 Plea.

For these reasons, the 251 option should be balanced with the option of proceeding to trial.

We Represent You – You Make the Decisions About Your Case

At the outset of our representation, one of our first tasks is to learn about all facts and circumstances of our client’s arrest.  We will also want to know first-hand from our client about nature of the arrest.  Based upon this information, we then begin assembling the defense for our clients, and developing a strategy for our client’s consideration.

Our clients control the direction of their case at all times.  It is our role to suggest possible options, and then to work diligently in seeking the best outcome for them based upon the chosen path.

Representing Juveniles and Young Adults Charged with Marijuana Possession

We represent juveniles and young adults charged with marijuana possession, and are particularly mindful of the potential consequences that a conviction might have.  There are other possibilities for leniency and programs for juveniles, as the courts and the law will take into account the age of the alleged offender, and the concern about what effect a conviction might have in the future.

We Can Discuss Your Case and Inform You of Your Options

Every case will be unique.  Once we meet with you and learn about your circumstances, we can answer your questions and discuss your options with you.

[1] This program arises under section 18.2-251 of the Virginia criminal code.