Drug Possession: What’s the Legal Damage?

passing drugs -- man in handcuffs

In Virginia, there are specific laws pertaining to drug possession. Some drug possession crimes are misdemeanors (marijuana) and some are felonies (heroin, cocaine, molly, meth, ecstasy.) Despite the different punishments based on the type of drug, the elements of possession offenses are generally the same.

If you find yourself charged with drug possession, it’s important to know your rights and what you can expect.

Possession of a Controlled Substance or Marijuana

In order to convict you of possession of a controlled substance or possession of marijuana, the prosecutor is required to prove certain facts beyond a reasonable doubt. Those facts include the following:

• The drug was a controlled substance or marijuana

• You possessed the controlled substance or marijuana

• You knowingly possessed the drug

In addition, you can also be charged with drug possession if the substance is in a place in which you have control. This is known as “constructive” possession. As a result, the prosecution will try to prove you are guilty of possession of drugs even if you were not present at the time when the drugs were uncovered.

Penalties and Sentences for Drug Possession

Possession of less than ½ ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor and carries a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Second offenses (or if the amount is greater than ½ ounce) will face up to 12 months in jail. See Virginia Code Section § 18.2-250.1

Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II drugs (heroin, cocaine, molly, ecstasy, Percocet) is a felony offense. Punishment for possession of these drugs includes one to ten years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Most drug convictions require a mandatory loss of driving privileges for six months.

All first-time drug possession offenses allow for an attorney to ask for his client’s inclusion in Virginia’s first offender program.

Possible Defenses for Drug Possession Charges

In court, your criminal defense attorney can use certain defenses to potentially get the drug possession charges against you reduced or possibly even dropped. The most common defenses include the following:

• You lacked knowledge of the controlled substance or marijuana

• Mere proximity to drugs is insufficient for conviction (the driver of the car containing drugs is not always guilty)

• Unlawful arrest

Drug Possession Charges Require an Attorney

Above all else, if you are arrested and charged with drug possession in Richmond or anywhere else in Virginia, it’s important to retain a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Richmond criminal defense attorney Vaughan C. Jones has fought and won countless trials and knows the ins and outs of drug possession laws. Don’t get stuck living a different life because you were wrongly charged. Let us fight for you!

Our experienced Richmond criminal defense attorney is ready to fight for you. Call (804) 207-5735 today to schedule your free case evaluation.

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