Whether you are facing a simple possession of marijuana charge or a distribution charge, the stakes are high. Drug convictions can result in significant prison sentences and the lose of your driving privileges. I can help you understand the ramifications of a drug conviction. I can help you ensure that your constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures are protected. I have experience representing people charged with property crimes. You can face these charges with the knowledge and confidence that your constitutional rights will be protected.
Possession of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance class 5 felony. That means it's punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Most often, however, sentences are simple possession are much less severe.
To convict, prosecutors must prove that you were in knowing possession of a schedule I/II controlled substance. Usually that means they must send the substance to a lab to confirm that it is a controlled substance. It's important to know that just because you're in a car where a controlled substance is found, that does not mean you are guilty.
Distribution of a controlled substance is an unclassified felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Sentences for distribution of a controlled substance are usually much more severe than for simple possession charges.
Distribution is defined broadly so it's important to speak with an attorney about whether you can be convicted.
What is Reasonable Suspicion and/or Probable Cause?
Before police and stop you and search you or your car, they have to have reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity or probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found. That means police cannot stop you because of your race or gender.
Some of the factors that can give rise to reasonable suspicion to detain you or probable cause to search are
- violation of traffic laws
- odor of marijuana or other controlled substances like PCP
- intoxicated appearance
- presence in a high crime area, combined with other suspicious behavior
- unexplained, sudden flight from law enforcement
- nervous or other unusual behavior
Just because the police have detained you, it's important to know that you still have rights.
Is it a crime to have prescription medication without a prescription?
Yes. If you don't have a valid prescription or your prescription has expired, you should not possess prescription medications. Many prescription medications are schedule I/II controlled substances. That means it's a felony to possess them without a valid prescription.
Is there a first offender program for drug possession?
If you've never been convicted of a drug crime before, you can go into probation and have your drug possession charges dismissed. The first offender program is not easy. It requires you to attend substance abuse counselling. You also have to complete community service. They will also make you take drug tests.
Can I do drug court?
In Charlottesville and Albemarle you can enter into drug court. Other surrounding counties do not have a drug court yet. Drug court can be a good option if you really intend to overcome a drug addiction. If you don't, it will be a waste of your time and could prejudice your case. Make sure to discuss your options with your attorney before you decide to enter into drug court.