Why You Need a Drug Lawyer Virginia
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What to Know If You’ve Been Charged With a Drug Crime in Virginia
In the District of Columbia, possessing a controlled substance is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. This law applies to most drugs except a few. This charge will apply if someone is caught with cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, drug paraphernalia, crystal meth, etc.
Marijuana possession is treated differently under the D.C. Code, and so is PCP. Possession of PCP in its liquid form is a felony. On the other hand, it is legal under local D.C. law (not federal) to possess a limited amount of marijuana for recreational purposes.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia prosecutes all drug crime convictions, including possession. In a possession case, the government has to prove you possessed the illegal substances. Most of the time, the government will charge this offense when it believes the person arrested intended to use the drugs for personal use (not to sell them).
How Drug Courts work in Washington D.C.
While it is possible to get jail time for drug possession offenses, D.C. is a jurisdiction that leans more towards treatment than incarceration for drug possession. The prosecutors will often offer pretrial diversion for simple drug possession charges unless the person is a habitual and repeat offender.
Diversion could include doing community service and staying out of trouble in exchange for getting your case dismissed. In addition, D.C. Superior Court has two specialized courts that often allow people to get their charges dismissed if they complete long-term drug or mental health treatment.
Drug Court and Mental Health Court exist as options for either pleading guilty or going straight to trial. However, to be allowed in drug court, both the prosecutor and the Pretrial Services Agency must agree its an appropriate resolution for the case.
How to Get Your Drug Case Dismissed
There is another diversion type resolution available for simple possession cases. This option is called 904.01(e) probation. There is a specific code provision that permits a first-time drug offender to plead guilty and asks the Court to put them on 904.01(e) probation. If the judge agrees, then the person does not automatically get convicted.
If the person completes the probation, then not only will the case be expunged, but the arrest does as well. Maryland and other states often refer to this as “Probation before Judgment” or “PBJ.” This specific provision is only available to the simple possession charge, and the person cannot have a prior conviction for a drug offense.
However, possession with intent to distribute is a felony offense where the government will not typically offer pretrial diversion. The main difference in what the government must prove is that the defendant not only possessed controlled substances but intended to distribute them.
That requires the government to show evidence in D.C. of what is “indicia of sale.” Indicia of sale could include little baggies, scales, packaging material, and large amounts of cash. The quantity of the drug possessed also may impact whether the charge is simple possession or possession with intent to distribute.
This is an area where the D.C. marijuana law gets fuzzy as well. It’s legal under local law to possess and purchase a limited amount of marijuana. However, it remains illegal to sell marijuana. So, a buyer can legally buy weed, but the seller cannot legally sell it. To make things even more confusing, it’s technically legal under D.C. law to “gift” limited amounts of marijuana.
Individuals and businesses who operate in this arena can find themselves charged with a felony offense of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
In addition, for possession of drugs other than marijuana, “intent to distribute” includes giving it away or “gifting.” So, for example, possessing cocaine or “molly” with the intent to share it with friends could be prosecuted as a felony offense in D.C.
The most serious type of drug offense in D.C. is distribution. The difference between drug distribution and possession with intent to distribute is the physical act of distributing the drug. In other words, the drugs must change hands. These cases typically involve an undercover officer actually purchasing drugs from a suspected drug dealer.
Distribution, like possession with intent to distribute, is a felony offense in D.C. Most judges adhere to the District of Columbia Voluntary Sentencing Guidelines when giving a felony sentence.
The Sentencing Guidelines can call for significant jail time depending on the person’s criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the offense. Sentencing Guidelines can call for significant jail time depending on the person’s criminal history and the offense’s circumstances.
Classification of Drugs in Virginia
The type of drug involved in the offense will also determine whether the crime is a misdemeanor or felony offense. In Virginia, there are six “schedules” of drugs. These schedules range from the most dangerous and addictive drugs (Schedule I) to the least dangerous and addictive (Schedule VI).
The drug schedules are as follows:
Schedule I: These drugs have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S. Examples include heroin, LSD, GHB, and Ecstasy
Schedule II: These drugs are highly addictive and have a high potential for abuse. They also have accepted medical uses in the U.S. Examples of Schedule II drugs include Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Oxycodone, and Adderall
Schedule III: These drugs have a potential for abuse that is less than drugs in Schedule I or II and have an accepted medical use in the U.S. Examples of Schedule III drugs include Steroids, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, and Ketamine
Schedule IV: These drugs have a low potential for abuse in comparison to drugs in the other schedules and have an accepted medical use in the United States of America. Examples of Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Valium, and Rohypnol
Schedule V: These drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs and have accepted medical uses in the U.S. An example of a Schedule V drug is cough syrup with a small amount of codeine
Schedule VI: These drugs have a very low potential for abuse and are accepted for medical uses in the U.S. Marijuana is the only drug currently in Schedule VI
Talk to a Virginia Criminal Lawyer Today
Whether it’s marijuana, cocaine, or otherwise, if you are charged with a drug offense, it’s crucial for you to talk to an experienced D.C. drug lawyer.
Attorney Jay Mykytiuk has experience in both federal crimes and state drug offenses in Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug offense, contact Attorney Jay P. Mykytiuk today for a confidential case assessment.
Talk to an experienced Virginia drug lawyer today. Call 202-318-3761 or contact us right away.
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