Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Virginia

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 6-Apr-2016

If you smoke marijuana, you may be one of the millions of Americans who feel that pot should be legalized. After all, it’s a natural substance that is now being used for many medical purposes.

As the date of this writing, a total of 20 states have decriminalized small time marijuana possession offenses. By “decriminalization,” it means that if someone is caught with a small amount of marijuana for personal use, there is no arrest, they don’t go to jail, and there’s no criminal record.

Just some of the 20 states that have decriminalized marijuana thus far include: California, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio. Unfortunately, however, Virginia is NOT one of the states that has decriminalized marijuana.

What are the penalties for possession?

Arrested for marijuana possession in VA? If this is your first offense, you’re facing a Class I misdemeanor charge, punishable by:

  • Up to 30 days in jail, and
  • Up to a $500 fine.

For a second or subsequent marijuana possession offense, the penalties get steeper. If this is your second or subsequent offense, you face:

  • Up to 12 months behind bars, and
  • A fine not to exceed $2,500.

Under Virginia law, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana for personal use is referred to as “simple possession.”

On the other hand, if you decide to sell between 1/2 an ounce and up to 5 pounds of pot to a friend or anyone else, you would be accused of selling, a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine.

In addition to the above penalties, when someone is convicted of possessing marijuana in Virginia, their driver’s license can be suspended for six months.

If this is your first drug-related offense, you may be eligible for “conditional release,” or diversion sentencing. With conditional release, the defendant is placed on probation rather than going to trial. Once he or she successfully completes their probation, the charge does not show up on their criminal record.

Are you facing drug possession charges? Act fast by contacting a Richmond criminal defense attorney at Carlson & Collier. We’re available 24/7 to take your call.

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