Drug charges in Virginia are serious offenses, and the state of Virginia imposes serious penalties upon conviction. Drug charges can range from possession of small amounts of a controlled substance to charges associated with distribution, manufacturing, and trafficking controlled substances. No matter what type of drug charges you are facing, you should not attempt to handle your defense on your own. The penalties for a drug crime conviction can include substantial jail time and monetary fines, not to mention the social penalties associated with having a criminal record. If you are facing drug charges in Manassas, Fairfax, or elsewhere in Virginia, the following are five things you should know.
- Drug Charges Can Be Misdemeanor or Felony Offenses
Drug charges in Virginia are criminal offenses, including possession of marijuana. While some states have decriminalized or legalized marijuana, such laws are not yet in effect in Virginia. However, beginning on July 1, possession of a small amount of marijuana will be decriminalized. This does not mean marijuana possession is legal, but it means that possession of a small amount of marijuana (less than an ounce) will be treated as an offense that carries a fine instead of criminal charges. Until then, however, it is important to understand Virginia law. Depending upon the type of drug and the amount, as well as other factors, drug charges can be either misdemeanor or felony offenses.
- Severity of Drug Charges Can Depend on the Schedule of the Controlled Substance
Under Virginia law, different types of drugs are classified in different schedules of controlled substances. Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance, for example, is typically charged as a Class 5 felony, while possession of a Schedule II, IV, V, or VI controlled substance is typically charged as a misdemeanor.
- First-Time Offenders May Be Eligible for a Diversion Program
While Virginia law does not explicitly define diversion programs, it does have diversionary programs for people who are first-time offenders, especially for drug-related crimes. If you are charged with a drug offense and have not faced criminal charges in the past, you may be able to avoid jail time and, in some cases, to avoid having a criminal record upon completion of a diversionary program.
- Multiple Defense Strategies May Be Available
There are different defense strategies depending upon the facts of your case, and you may have multiple defense strategies available. For example, a law enforcement official may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights in conducting an unlawful search. Or, for example, you may have had a prescription for the drug in your possession. It is important to develop a defense strategy that fits the facts of your case.
- You Should Have an Attorney with Experience Handling Drug Cases
When you are facing drug charges of any type in Virginia, it will be extremely important to have an attorney who can assess your case and tailor a defense strategy to the particular circumstances of your charges. Your lawyer should have experience handling drug cases like yours, and should have experience developing a variety of defense strategies in cases involving allegations of drug possession, drug manufacturing, and drug distribution or trafficking.
Contact a Virginia Drug Charges Defense Attorney Today
If you are facing drug charges in Virginia, you should have an experienced Manassas drug crimes defense lawyer on your side who can help you to build a defense that is tailored to the facts of your case. At our firm, we will do everything we can to help you beat the charges you are facing. Even if it seems unlikely that you can beat the charges, it may be possible to enter into a diversionary program or to take other steps to avoid jail time. Contact Dougherty Tobias Iszard, Northern Virginia Law, P.C. for more information.