The national narrative regarding marijuana is undoubtedly changing, but in Virginia, possession of marijuana is still treated as an extremely serious crime. Being found to be in possession of even the smallest amount of marijuana can easily result in a criminal conviction, a suspension of your drivers license, probation, and a suspended jail sentence. And that’s just on your first offense! If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Virginia – particularly in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, or Prince William counties – it is critical to discuss your case with an experienced Virginia marijuana defense attorney to protect your rights and avoid serious consequences.
I Was Only Issued a Summons! Is This Actually Serious!?
Because a first offense possession of marijuana charge will usually result in a summons being issued rather than being taken away in handcuffs, many of my clients initially assume it is not that big of a deal. Common sense seems to dictate that if you were being charged with a serious offense, then you would be arrested. That’s just what happens to criminals. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Although you were only issued a summons, you were still charged with a misdemeanor, and the penalty for a marijuana conviction is not going to be a simple fine. If you are convicted of possession of marijuana, VA Code 18-250.1 requires a mandatory 6 months loss of driver’s license (even if you were not driving at the time of your arrest). You are facing up to 30 days in jail (although, generally all imposed jail time will be suspended), and a year of “good behavior” probation – which means if you are convicted of violating a law over the next year, the entire jail sentence for the marijuana conviction can be imposed.
Simply stated, this is not a charge to take lightly.
For first offenders, a 251 diversion pleading may not sound like a bad option. And, in many cases, it’s not. But don’t settle for that right out of the gates. Have your case examined by experienced marijuana defense attorneys first to determine whether a diversion pleading is the proper course of action. It’s always better to have a nolle prosequi or not guilty on your record than a dismissed due to 251 diversion pleading.