Hull Street Law

A division of Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, P.C. – personal injury and criminal defense

Possession of a Controlled Substance: First Offense – Virginia

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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 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.

Amended in 2020 – § 18.2-250.1. Possession of marijuana unlawful.

In pertinent part reads as follows:

A. It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess marijuana unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.). The attorney for the Commonwealth or the county, city, or town attorney may prosecute such a case.

Upon the prosecution of a person for violation of this section, ownership or occupancy of the premises or vehicle upon or in which marijuana was found shall not create a presumption that such person either knowingly or intentionally possessed such marijuana.

Any person who violates this section is subject to a civil penalty of no more than $25. A violation of this section is a civil offense. Any civil penalties collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Drug Offender Assessment and Treatment Fund established pursuant to § 18.2-251.02.


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The facts and circumstances of each case are unique and therefore the fact that a law firm has obtained significant verdicts and results in other cases in no way guarantees that other cases will have similar results.

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.

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