Drug Charge FAQ

Fairfax Drug FAQs

1. What are the various types of drug crimes?
2. How are they punishable?
3. What is the 251 program?
4. Am I eligible for the program?
5. What defenses exist?
6. Do all offenses carry a license suspension?
7. Can police search me, my car and my home whenever and wherever they want?
8. Evidence was taken from my home without a search warrant. Isn’t this illegal? Will the case against me be dismissed?
9. The prosecutor says they’re not seeking jail time for my marijuana charge. Do I still need an attorney?
10.
I think I am guilty. Why do I still need a lawyer?

1. What are the various types of drug crimes?

Drug crimes range from simple possession of paraphernalia all the way to distribution of large quantities of hard drugs, like Cocaine and Heroin. Paraphernalia is simply possessing a device used to take illegal drugs, such as a syringe, bowl, or bong. Of increasing seriousness is simple possession of marijuana, possession of harder drugs, possession with intent to distribute/distribution of marijuana, and possession with intent to distribute hard drugs. return to top

2. How are they punishable?

Possession of paraphernalia is a Class I misdemeanor, but is typically only punished with a fine. Possession of marijuana is an unclassified misdemeanor for the defendant’s first offense. Subsequent convictions become a Class I misdemeanor and are increasingly likely to carry a sentence of some jail time. Possession with intent to distribute small quantities of marijuana is a misdemeanor. Higher quantities (greater than 1/2 oz.) are punishable as a felony. Distributions of hard drugs are all punishable as felonies. Potential outcomes vary widely depending on several factors, including the facts of the case and the defendant’s prior record. return to top

3. What is the 251 program?

The 251 program is an excellent option for many individuals charged with drug possession in Virginia. The program is named after section 18.2-251 of the Virginia state code. The law provides an opportunity to have your case continued for some period of time. During that time, you must avoid any other illegal behavior, perform community service, and take some drug classes. If you are successful, the case against you will be dismissed. The specific terms of probation and community service will be determined by the judge. While the 251 program is a good outcome in some cases, in other cases it is awful. The program is not expugnable and you will always have a record of the arrest. Nobody should ever settle for the program without first seeing if a lawyer can get a better result. return to top

4. Am I eligible for the program?

First-time offenders with no drug convictions are eligible for the program. You can only participate in the program once. return to top

5. What defenses exist?

All drug cases require the government to prove that the drug in question is actually an illegal narcotic. This must be done with scientific testing. As with any scientific process, a series of rules and regulations must be followed. Unacceptable deviance from these standards can result in a dismissal or reduction of your charge.

Additionally, possession-with-intent-to-distribute (PWID) charges may have quantity requirements that the government may not be able to establish. Scientific testing must show exactly how much of the drugs existed. The government must also prove what, exactly, an individual planned to do with the drugs. Without a specific statement of intent, it can be nearly impossible for the government to prove what was in a defendant’s mind. Almost every PWID charge has strong potential defenses.

Finally, and most importantly, officers may have violated your rights when they searched for the drugs. Home, vehicle, and person searches are extremely technical areas of the law. If you think your rights have been violated, it’s important to have an aggressive lawyer in your corner. return to top

6. Do all offenses carry a license suspension?

Yes. Unfortunately under Virginia Law, a conviction for any drug offense carries a mandatory six-month loss of license. However, in certain circumstances a restricted license (allowing for driving to work and some other places) can be authorized. return to top

7. Can police search me, my car and my home whenever and wherever they want?

Police can always search you if (1) you give permission or (2) they have a warrant based on probable cause. Specific rules apply to body searches, car searches, and searches of your home. return to top

8. Evidence was taken from my home without a search warrant. Isn’t this illegal? Will the case against me be dismissed?

If evidence was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights, in most instances the law requires the court to disregard that evidence. Your lawyer will need to file a motion to suppress to make sure that the prosecutor does not use such evidence. return to top

9. The prosecutor says they’re not seeking jail time for my marijuana charge. Do I still need an attorney?

Maybe. Even if the prosecutor is not asking for a jail term for your marijuana case, other major consequences will result from a conviction. Things like your job, security clearance, and driver’s license may be affected by a marijuana conviction. Make sure you talk to an attorney about any charge so you don’t end up with consequences you don’t expect in the future. return to top

10. I think I am guilty. Why do I still need a lawyer?

Even if you think you had illegal drugs, experienced legal counsel may be able to help minimize your legal problems and maximize your opportunities to move ahead toward a brighter future. A criminal defense attorney helps to equalize the balance of power between the defendant and the prosecution and works to preserve the constitutional rights that are guaranteed to all criminal defendants. Additionally, a lawyer with as much experience in Fairfax drug cases as Faraji Rosenthall will be able to help you avoid those judges who typically issue the harshest sentences.

Whether you are charged with possession, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute, the Rosenthall Law Office will work with you to determine what defenses exist in your case, and then use them to your benefit. Contact our office today to discuss the facts of your case. return to top

703-454-8402

Email faraji@fairfaxcriminallawyer.com

10560 Main Street • Suite 310 • Fairfax, Virginia 22030


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