Creative Solution for a Marijuana Arrest that Meets the Client’s Needs
Today our attorneys represented a client in a local court charged with Possession of Marijuana. After being pulled over for swerving in and out of his lane, the police immediately smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside his vehicle. Upon being questioned by the police about the presence of marijuana in the vehicle the client immediately admitted that there was marijuana in the vehicle that he had recently purchased. The marijuana was given to the police and the client was charged with simple possession of marijuana.
If convicted of the possession of marijuana charge, the client generally would have had two options. First, he could have chosen to be convicted of the charge and face a fine, an all suspended jail sentence and a six months suspension of his driver’s license. Second, he could have taken advantage of Virginia’s first offender statute. Under that provision of Virginia law, a person who is charged with possessing marijuana, or most other drugs, can ask the judge to consider taking the case under advisement for six months rather than convicting them. During that six month period, the defendant must complete at least 24 hours of community service, enter into and complete a substance abuse program that includes random drug screens, and have their driver’s license suspended for six months. If they complete the program successfully then the judge dismisses the case. If, however, the program is not completed successfully then the person is convicted of the possession of marijuana and is often sentenced to an active jail sentence.
In this case, as is often the case for clients charged with possession of marijuana, our client did not want to have his license suspended for six months. As a result, the two options above were not attractive options to him. After a lot of hard work, our attorney was able to reach an agreement with the prosecutor that resulted in the charge being amended to possession of paraphernalia rather than possession of marijuana, and he was sentenced to an all suspended jail sentence (he did not have to serve any jail time) and to pay a small fine. He did not receive any suspension of his driver’s license at all. Thankfully, we were able to find a creative solution that met all of the client’s needs.