How To Fight Possession Of Marijuana
If you’ve been charged with possession of marijuana under VA Code 18.2-250.1, you need to talk to a defense attorney ASAP.
You may be able to beat the charge or at least be eligible to have it dismissed with community service.
Some factors for us to examine in a possession of marijuana case:
Why Was I Charged With Possession With Only A Bowl/Grinder?
Since the law doesn’t require any specific amount of marijuana for you to be convicted, the residue on your piece is enough. If any THC containing residue is found on your paraphernalia, you will most likely be charged with possession as well
“It Was Just A Tiny Bit”
All that the Commonwealth has to prove is that you had some marijuana. The amount is irrelevant.
POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA
One way to get nailed for possession is if you make admissions about the substance. In other words, keep your mouth shut! Don’t say anything to anybody but your attorney
If the Commonwealth can prove that there was marijuana, can they prove that you possessed it?
The easiest way for the Commonwealth to prove this is if you had it on your person. If the police found a bag of bud in your pockets, there’s not much argument for us to make that you didn’t possess it.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO OWN THE MARIJUANA
In possession of marijuana cases, a common thing I hear is “The marijuana wasn’t mine.” I’ve heard this in court, and I’ve heard it when I talk to people on the about their case. A lot of people are hung up on the idea that if they didn’t own the marijuana, they have a defense in the case.
The problem with that argument is that Virginia law actually criminalizes possessing marijuana. All the Commonwealth has to prove is that you were in possession of it. They don’t have to prove who the actual owner of it was.
A good analogy is a car: I own my car; I have the title to it, and it’s my car. But I could loan my car to you, and you would be in possession of my car. Or, several people could all fit in my car together, and in a way, we are all in possession of the vehicle.
If there are several people in the car with marijuana and everybody is smoking the marijuana, it’s pretty clearly a case of everybody being in possession of marijuana, even though maybe one person bought it and brought it to the car, everybody could be found guilty of possession of marijuana.
The cases for us to examine closely are where the substance was found somewhere nearby. For example, the police might have found something in a car where you happened to be riding. The Commonwealth tries to tie you to the marijuana with “constructive possession.”
Constructive possession is a legal doctrine that essentially means you knew of the presence and nature of the substance and exercised control over it.
Constructive possession can be hard for the Commonwealth to prove if you didn’t make any statements about the substance. They try to prove it with things like ownership of the vehicle in question, proximity to the substance, suspicious behavior, etc.
The rules here are very fact-specific, so it’s definitely something we need to talk about. And even still, the result can depend upon the particular judge we get.
SEARCH AND SEIZURE
Search and seizure issues present a completely different line of attack on marijuana possession cases. Any evidence found as a result of an illegal search or seizure can be kept out of court. Needless to say, we need to carefully analyze any search or seizure in your case.
1ST POSSESSION CHARGE IN VIRGINIA
If the Commonwealth can prove that you possessed marijuana, there’s still hope. Under VA Code 18.2-251, if this is your first offense, you may be eligible to have the charge dismissed.
To get that outcome, the judge gives you six months to do several things:
- Commit no new offenses.
- Perform 24 hours of community service.
- Undergo a substance abuse evaluation and any required treatment.
- Have your license suspended during the six months.
- Pay court costs.
If you do all of that successfully, the judge can dismiss the possession of marijuana charge completely. This is your best opportunity for a second chance.
Here’s a list of Offenses and Penalties associated with them:
WHAT IS THE VIRGINIA MARIJUANA FIRST OFFENDER PROGRAM?
For a first offense of possession of marijuana, the court has discretion to allow the defendant to complete a “First Offender” program. If the defendant completes all of the requirements, the charge will be dismissed, and the defendant can avoid a criminal conviction.
To qualify, you must not have been convicted of any other drug charges in any other state, including first offenses that you have had dismissed.
The program typically consists of community service, drug screenings, a drug abuse course, and individual instructions from the probation office. After completing the program with no behavioral consequences, your charge will be dismissed.
Contact Bill for the BEST Representation
Don’t let possession of weed ruin your life. Please contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with Bill Johnson.
The information provided by this website is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or a substitute for competent legal counsel. For further questions please review our disclaimer here.