The most common types of drug case that our office handles is possession of marijuana cases. Marijuana is one of the most popular drugs and possession is probably the most common type of charge there is. Other types of common drug charges include Possession of Cocaine and Possession with the intent to distribute drugs.
What Is the Difference Between a Possession Charge and An Intent to Sell/Distribute Charge?
The biggest difference is the penalties. With a possession charge, there are a number of opportunities, if it’s a first offense, to have them dismissed by statute under code section 18.2-251 for a first offense possession of any type of drug. The court can task the person with a number of hours of community service as well as provide that person with the opportunity to take a substance abuse program and suspended license for the period of 6 months and upon them staying out of trouble and complying with the terms and conditions, they have the opportunity to get the charge dismissed.
Our office tries to do whatever we can to prevent the person from having to do the program that I just indicated, because while it may seem well and good, by doing that, it opens them up to not being able to have the charge expunged later on because the expungement statutes indicate that any charge that is dismissed with terms and conditions on the record cannot be expunged.
So, if you were to do one of these programs, even if the charge was dismissed, your record would always indicate that you were charged with that offense. Additionally, we try to do whatever we can to prevent the person’s license from being suspended. We try to find outside the box opportunities for people to have their charges dismissed without them having to do that program. When you are dealing with possession with the intent to distribute charges or distribution charges, those charges carry penalties.
If it’s a schedule I or II drug, you could face up to 40 years in prison and depending on how many offenses you’ve had in the past; it could also be up to life imprisonment.
How Can I Know If I’m Facing Jail on a Drug Charge?
If you are being charged with a drug charge, all drug charges carry the possibility of jail. Depending on what the drug charge is, will depend on how much jail time you are looking at. For example, a first time possession of marijuana charge carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail. If it’s a second offense marijuana charge, it carries up to 1 year in jail, and that’s just for simple possession. Again, the same goes with a number of the more serious drugs such as cocaine and the heroin. For the possession of the schedule I and II drugs, those carry up to 10 years in jail.
How Much Marijuana Does Someone Have to Possess to Get a Felony Charge?
When it comes to the specific charge of marijuana, whether you have 1 gram or 100 pounds, if you’re just being charged with possession, it’s going to be a misdemeanor, not a felony. Weight does not play a role on whether or not you were being charged with a misdemeanor or felony. There is no felony charge for possession of marijuana cases.
Having said that, if you have a large quantity of marijuana a police officer would be more inclined to believe that it was not for personal consumption and they can use that as a factor when determining whether or not to charge you with possession with the intent to distribute.
Now, for possession with the intent to distribute, the weight does play a role in whether or not it is a misdemeanor or a felony. With that particular charge, if the weight of marijuana is under half of an ounce, that is a misdemeanor possession with the intent to distribute; anything above that, it becomes a felony.
Can Becoming a Police Informant Help Someone’s Drug Case?
It depends. When you are dealing with drug cases, there are a number of times where police officers will question people and ask them whether or not they want to cooperate to try to help with their own charge. In most situations, the police officers understand if the person that they pulled over is not the “kingpin” and they want to get to the bigger fish, they use that person to help them do so.
When you have those situations, I normally try to advise people that it is not in their best interest to cooperate because cooperation can be very dangerous. Depending on what level of cooperation they want, sometimes cops just want to ask a couple of questions and get a couple of names, wear a wire, or do controlled buys and sells, and that can become a very dangerous proposition.
When you’re dealing inside the drug world, you’re dealing with a lot of desperate people who are willing to do desperate things. It’s not only that they could do harm to you, if they figure out information or they think that you are an informant, they could do harm to your family as well. So, I always make people aware of what the risks are involved to their cooperation.
Now, depending on what the jurisdiction is, it also depends on what your cooperation is and how it will help you. There are some jurisdictions where your cooperation could result in a charge being dismissed, and there are others where you can cooperate and they’re really not going to do much for you. We advise people of the potential for their cooperation to have their charge dismissed, reduced, or have their jail time reduced, but there are a number of factors that go into cooperation. Typically we tell people that it is not in their best interest to do so.
For more information on Common Drug Charges in Virginia, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by contacting us today.