Possession of a Controlled Substance: First Offense – Virginia
Possession of a Controlled Substance: First Offense
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-250, a person who “knowingly” possesses a controlled substance, classified as a Schedule I or Schedule II substance, is guilty of a Class 5 felony. The punishment for violation of this statute is severe. A person convicted of possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance is subject to a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years, or in the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both. Additionally, Virginia law mandates the suspension of driving privileges for any person convicted of this statute. However, he or she may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license, which will allow him or her to drive to and from school, work, church, and medical appointments.
Under Virginia Code § 18.2-251, an individual who has not previously received a drug-related conviction (a “first offender”) may, in the discretion of the court, receive a deferred disposition and dismissal of the charge upon completion of the court-ordered conditions of probation. The statute requires that an individual seeking a deferred disposition for dismissal undergo a substance abuse assessment (and treatment if the court deems it necessary). Further, such individual must pay all or part of his or her court costs and fines, as well as the costs associated with enrollment in an approved substance abuse program. During his or her probationary period, an individual must abstain from drug and alcohol use and is subject to random drug and alcohol screening to ensure compliance. Finally, the statute requires that an individual complete at least 24 hours of community service. Failure to comply with these terms will result in a finding of guilt and imposition of the aforementioned penalties.
Although satisfactory completion of the conditions of probation under the first offender program will result in dismissal of an individual’s possession charge, the offense remains a conviction for subsequent drug-related offenses. Therefore, if an individual, who previously received a dismissal of a possession of marijuana charge under the first offender statute, subsequently violates the possession statute, such subsequent offense will constitute a second offense for the purposes of adjudication and sentencing. Further, an expungement is not permissible when an individual receives a dismissal of the possession charge under the first offender program. Please note that drug-related cases often involve complex search and seizure defenses, as well as negotiation skills that generally require hiring an experienced attorney.
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The materials are prepared for information purposes only. The materials are not legal advice and you should not act upon the information without seeking the advice of an attorney. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship.