Fairfax Marijuana Lawyer
After the November 2016 elections, 38 of the 50 states legalized marijuana in some form – either for medical or recreational use. Yet, despite marijuana being legal for recreational use in the District of Columbia, according to Virginia marijuana laws and Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1, possession of marijuana remains illegal in the Commonwealth. Consequently, being arrested for marijuana possession, even if it is your first time, will result in being charged with a misdemeanor. While a conviction for marijuana possession can be accompanied by a sentence of up to 30 days in jail, hiring a Fairfax marijuana lawyer can help you avoid serving any jail time at all.
Given Virginia’s strict marijuana possession laws, it is no surprise that medical marijuana can only be prescribed for people afflicted with cancer or glaucoma. See Virginia Code § 18.2-251.1. In recent months, however, legislators throughout the Commonwealth have publicly acknowledged that Virginia’s marijuana laws are somewhat antiquated. In response, the legislature has been working to pass laws which would expand the use of medical marijuana in Virginia.
Fairfax Marijuana Attorney Explains the Prevalence of Marijuana Use and Possession of Marijuana Charges
As a Fairfax marijuana lawyer, I can unequivocally say that marijuana possession charges are amongst the most common criminal charges in Northern Virginia. Indeed, marijuana is one of the most commonly used drugs in this country. Therefore, it is important for you to understand that simply because you were arrested for possession of marijuana, it does not mean that you are a bad person. In fact, people from all walks of life use marijuana – this includes doctors, athletes, lawmakers, teachers, actors, lawyers, and even police and law enforcement. As a matter of fact, President Obama has openly discussed how he smoked marijuana almost every day while he was in high school and college. And while you may or may not agree with our former president’s political views, under any form of analysis, President Obama did pretty damn well for himself considering that, by his own admission, he was a pothead.
I speak about President Obama to make this very important point: A lot of people smoke pot, and as a Fairfax marijuana lawyer, I find it personally offensive that the Commonwealth is still prosecuting people for merely possessing a small amount of weed. If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana, you will want to hire an aggressive, passionate, and affordable Fairfax marijuana lawyer who will make life miserable for any prosecutor who attempts to take the matter to trial.
Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Explains Virginia Laws Relating to Simple Marijuana Possession
While marijuana possession charges are serious, the seriousness of these charges pale in comparison to charges for possession of narcotics. If your child has been charged with possession of marijuana, Randall has a strong record of success in juvenile criminal defense cases, as well as cases which involve student disciplinary hearings. With that said, the penalties, as well as your potential options if you are being charged with simple marijuana possession are as follows:
First Marijuana Possession Charge
According to Virginia marijuana laws, possession of any amount of marijuana remains illegal in the Commonwealth. Consequently, a simple marijuana possession charge can result in a sentence of up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. In practice, however, hiring a Fairfax marijuana lawyer will likely allow you to avoid serving any jail time.
Additionally, if you are charged with simple marijuana possession for the first time, your Fairfax marijuana lawyer can help you enroll in a probation program known as a “251 Disposition.” If you successfully complete this program, your charges will be dismissed. In order to complete the program successfully, you must complete a drug treatment or education program, remain drug free, submit to random drug tests, and complete 24 hours of community service. If you choose to enter a 251 Disposition, you will be required to pay all or part of the costs associated with entering and completing the program.
The real problems with a marijuana possession conviction, and even the 251 deferment, is that Virginia marijuana laws require that the person relinquish their driving privileges for up to six months – which is an unnecessary and draconian punishment that can have a substantially negative effect on a person’s life, their job, and their ability to care for their family. That being said, your Fairfax marijuana lawyer can help by working with you to obtain a restricted license. Likewise, if you successfully complete the 251 Disposition program, you may also be eligible to have the charges expunged from your record.
Second Marijuana Possession Charge
If you are charged for a second time with possession of marijuana, Virginia marijuana laws require that it be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor with a potential punishment of up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and a loss of your driving privileges. If you have been charged with possession of marijuana for a second time, you will most definitely want to have a good Fairfax marijuana lawyer by your side to fight for you.
Fairfax Marijuana Attorney Explains Virginia Laws Relating to Sale and Possession for Sale Charges
Marijuana sale charges are also known as “possession with intent to distribute.” Marijuana sales charges are taken very seriously, and you will want to hire a Fairfax criminal defense attorney to help you vigorously fight these charges. Additionally, a Fairfax marijuana lawyer is a great person to have in your corner given the complexities associated with the different types of marijuana sales charges. Below is a very brief breakdown of the different types of marijuana sales charges in Virginia.
- Under Virginia Code § 18.2-248.1, possessing less than ½ ounce of marijuana for the purpose of sale is a misdemeanor with the same penalties as a second simple possession of marijuana charge.
- Pursuant to Virginia Code § 18.2-248.1(b), if a person is caught with more than ½ ounce of marijuana for the purpose of sale, they will be charged with a Class 5 felony. This charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. In practice, however, having a Fairfax marijuana lawyer representing you will likely help you to avoid serving any jail time.
- If a person is caught with more than 5 pounds of marijuana, they will be charged with a felony and face a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison.
Marijuana Manufacturing (Growing) Charges
- According to Virginia marijuana laws, growing marijuana is a Class 4 felony which is punishable by 5 to 30 years in a state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
- If you have a third felony conviction for distribution, manufacturing, or intent to manufacture marijuana, you will face a minimum of five years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
Marijuana Transportation Charges
- Under Virginia Code § 18.2-248.01, a person will be charges with a felony for transporting five or more pounds of marijuana into Virginia. The penalty for this offense is 40 years in jail with a mandatory minimum of three years and a fine of up to $1,000,000.
- For a second transportation offense, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in a state prison.
Sale to Minors
Unlike a limited sales or simple marijuana possession charge, distribution to a minor is a serious offense. As such, you will want an aggressive Fairfax marijuana lawyer to help you fight these charges. A person can be charged with sales to minors when a person 18 years of age or older intentionally distributes any drug to a minor who is three years younger than the distributor. The penalty for this crime can be up to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. If the individual distributes at least 5 ounces of marijuana to a minor, a 5-year mandatory minimum will be the applicable sentence. If the individual is found guilty of distributing less than one ounce of marijuana to a minor, then they will only be subject to a two-year mandatory minimum. See Virginia Code § 18.2-255(A)
Drug Paraphernalia Charges
As a Fairfax marijuana lawyer, I am often asked whether it is illegal to own a pipe or bong. The answer is that there is nothing inherently illegal about owning these items. Notwithstanding, if there is evidence to suggest that a person has used the paraphernalia to smoke marijuana, then it is indeed a crime. The evidence used to make this determination is the resin or tar from inside of these devices. If they test positive for marijuana, then you will be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
How Can a Fairfax Marijuana Attorney Help Me Fight Marijuana Sales Charges?
This is a very common question, and the most straightforward answer is that, although a person may be in possession of marijuana in large quantities, their intention may not be to sell drugs at all. However, because of certain factual circumstances, it may appear that they had such intention. But here is the reality: Like most drugs (or products at your local Costco), marijuana is infinitely cheaper when purchased in large quantities. Thus, a person who smokes marijuana may choose to buy it in bulk. In fact, even being in possession of a scale is not dispositive of innocence because many people bring a scale when buying large quantities of marijuana to make sure that they are not receiving less than what they paid for.
Perhaps one of the most surprising discoveries in my time as a Fairfax marijuana lawyer is that marijuana is more difficult to identify beyond a reasonable doubt than almost any other controlled substance. Unlike heroin or cocaine, marijuana lacks an identifiable chemical structure because it is botanical in form. In other words, marijuana has a chemical structure, but it very difficult to identify – even by chemical analysists who analyze chemical structures for a living. Instead, the only expert who is qualified to make a determination on this issue would be a plant taxonomist. Thus, when a chemist expert witness takes the stand, they are only testifying about observations and conclusions they may have noted while in their role as a lab technician; not as a taxonomist. Thus, conflicting evidence between the findings of a lab tech and the plant taxonomist gives your Fairfax marijuana lawyer the ability to question the quality of proof offered by the prosecution.
Many plant leaves have virtually indistinguishable patterns from other plants, and misidentification can and does happen. Misidentification is particularly prevalent as a result of the many different types of marijuana out there. Moreover, current statutory definitions exclude stalks of the plant, oil, and sterilized seeds. Thus, if marijuana seeds are identified, the Commonwealth must sustain the burden of proving that the seeds are not sterile. Moreover, in spectrophotometric tests, the absorption curves of marijuana have been shown to shift as the plant ages and ripens and these shifts render the plant nearly identical (on a molecular level) to a number of botanically related aromatic plants.
The most widely used test for marijuana are color reagents which respond to the plant’s resin or THC. The simplest of these tests is the Beam test, which employs potassium hydroxide and produces a violet color if the weed is fresh, and a brown color if it is older. The Beam test, standing alone, is never conclusive because an indistinguishable result will occur in other, non-marijuana related plants. The second common test is known as Duquenois. This test is almost the same as the Beam test, but it has an additional stage in which a chloroform layer is added and the result verified by transference of the color to the chloroform layer.
Thin-layer and gas chromatography is also used to test marijuana samples. But again, the results may vary substantially depending on the freshness of the sample, the part of the plant involved, and the precise botanical characteristics of its source. Your Fairfax marijuana lawyer will be able to have these tests performed and will then explain the results to you in plain English. But, at the end of the day, because it is possible that other plants might contain trace amounts of THC, the presence of this substance is not absolute proof that the original sample was actually marijuana.
Why You Need a Fairfax Marijuana Attorney
In order for you to ensure that these types of arguments are presented properly, you will need an aggressive and persuasive Fairfax marijuana lawyer on your side. If having the sales charge dismissed is not in the cards, all hope is not lost – there is always room for a plea to a lesser charge such as possession of marijuana. While an attorney may not be able to keep your record completely clean, having a marijuana possession conviction on your record is much easier to explain to prospective employers than a sales conviction.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that although the charges may be severe, there are plenty of ways by which a Fairfax marijuana lawyer can assert a strong legal defense in marijuana sales cases. Fourth Amendment violations often invalidate searches; undercover officers who engage in sting operations can (and do!) run afoul of entrapment laws; and without scales or cash in the defendant’s possession at the time of arrest, it becomes exceptionally difficult for the Commonwealth to prove that a defendant intended to sell marijuana so long as you have a good Fairfax marijuana lawyer on your side.
Contact a Fairfax Marijuana Lawyer Today
As a strong proponent of individual liberties, I take great pride in providing aggressive, affordable, and highly skilled criminal defense services to those citizens facing charges for having run afoul of Virginia’s marijuana laws. If you or a loved one is facing marijuana-related charges, contact the Law Offices of Randall Sousa now for a Free Consultation with a Fairfax marijuana lawyer. 571-354-6164.
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By: Randall Sousa
PASSIONATE AND PERSONAL SERVICE
The Law Offices of Randall Sousa provides clients throughout Virginia with affordable, professional, and aggressive criminal defense legal services. If you have been arrested, charged with a crime, or are under investigation, call us now for a Free Consultation.
Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Randall Sousa possesses a deep commitment and passion for criminal defense, and he is relentless when it comes to fighting for his clients in each and every case.
Law Offices of Randall Sousa
3007 Williams Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031