Defending the Rights and Reputation of Individuals Who Have Been Accused of Crimes Related to Marijuana
Despite the recreational and medical use of marijuana becoming more publicly and socially acceptable in recent years, Virginia law continues to criminalize the cultivation, possession, and sale of marijuana and other cannabis products. People who are accused of violating these laws are facing serious consequences that may have significant effects on their personal and professional lives. For this reason, it is critical for anyone facing allegations of violating Virginia marijuana laws to retain an attorney as soon as possible.
Marijuana Offenses Can Result in Significant Legal Penalties
If you are convicted of a crime related to marijuana, the court could impose extremely harsh penalties, even for a first-time offense. In fact, possessing even less than half an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense that could land you in jail for 30 days. Anything more than half an ounce is a much more serious matter. Selling marijuana within 1000 feet of a school is an aggravating factor that can result in much harsher penalties. Some of the general consequences associated with a marijuana conviction include the following:
- Community Service
- Court-Imposed Drug Testing
- Jail time
A Conviction Can Affect Every Aspect of Your Life
While the legal consequences of a marijuana conviction are no laughing matter, perhaps more serious are the collateral consequences associated with having a drug conviction on your permanent record. Criminal records are available to the public, which means that anyone could learn about the fact that you have been convicted of a drug crime.
Many employers make a background check a standard part of the hiring process, which means that a marijuana offense may make it difficult to get a job. Additionally, most landlords inquire about your criminal history and may be hesitant to rent to a person who they believe may violate the law or use drugs on their property.
If you are a student or planning on going back to school, a marijuana conviction could affect your chances of admission into a particular academic program and your eligibility for federal financial aid. As a result, even a relatively minor drug offense could significantly affect your future and professional opportunities.
Defenses may be Available
If you have been arrested for a marijuana offense, it is important to keep in mind that all is not lost. Not every arrest results in a conviction, and there are often many legal defenses that a skilled attorney can pursue. In a significant number of cases, the most effective defense to pursue is to establish that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights in the way the investigated your case and gathered evidence.
The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution limits the way that law enforcement can conduct searches and seize evidence, and violations can result in evidence suppressed. For example, if the police pull you over, search your car without probable cause, and find marijuana, the fact that they found marijuana will likely be deemed inadmissible in court. Without this critical evidence, the prosecution will be forced to drop the case against you.
4th Amendment law is extremely complex and requires years of study to understand. In addition, the law regarding search and seizure is constantly changing. For these reasons, it is important to have each case thoroughly reviewed by an attorney.
Virginia’s 251 Program May be an Option
Virginia, like many other states, allows some first-time drug offenders to participate in a diversionary program known as the “251 Program.” This program involves you pleading guilty to the offense but defers adjudication regarding the matter. If you successfully complete the program, the case against you will be dropped, meaning that you can avoid a conviction. This program is not available to everyone, however, and the court has discretion in allowing you to participate. The assistance of an attorney can maximize your chances of getting into 251 Program and protecting your future.
Call Leavitt & Martin, PLLC Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Richmond Marijuana Defense Lawyer
If you have been accused of a crime related to the sale, cultivation, possession, or you of marijuana or another cannabis product, you should speak with an attorney immediately. The dire consequences associated with a conviction makes retaining effective legal representation immediately.
At Leavitt & Martin, PLLC, we are committed to providing aggressive and solution-oriented legal representation and counsel to each and every client. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Richmond criminal defense lawyers, call our office today at 804-873-4004.