RICHMOND VIRGINIA FELONY DRUG POSSESSION CHARGES WARRANT AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL LAWYER
Do you need a Richmond VA Criminal Lawyer because of a drug arrest? As you consider Richmond criminal lawyers or those who serve nearby areas like Henrico, Essex, Prince George, or Chesterfield, you will discover that some attorneys handle drug possession cases while others do not. Sara Gaborik has handled these cases for years throughout Richmond and the surrounding areas and can help you with your case.
If you are facing a felony drug possession charge in Virginia, you need a criminal defense attorney who knows the law, the system and the prosecutors and judges in your area. Possession of a controlled substance in violation of Virginia Code section 18.2-250 can lead to serious consequences.
POSSESSION OF A SCHEDULE I OR SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE IN VIRGINIA: A CLASS 5 FELONY
Felony Drug Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II Controlled Substance in Virginia
First offenders may be eligible for a deferred disposition which allows the charges to be dismissed if the accused complies with statutory requirements. These requirements include providing 100 hours of community service, undergoing an assessment for substance abuse, completing any treatment deemed necessary, and complying with probation. In addition, the individual will forfeit his or her driving license for six months and must remain drug-free and alcohol-free, keep the peace, and be of good behavior for one full year. These are mandatory conditions and the offender must meet all of them before the judge will dismiss the charge.
If eligible, an offender’s attorney may request a restricted license which allows driving under specific limited circumstances such as driving to and from work and driving children to school. Ms. Gaborik can advise you as to whether you would qualify for limited driving privileges and request the Court grant you a restricted license that would allow you to drive to and from work or school, take your children to school and daycare, and travel to and from court and your court-ordered requirements.
A second-time offender will be placed on probation, must complete a substance abuse assessment and must follow through with any required treatment. The offender must comply with probation, remain drug-free and alcohol-free, keep the peace, and be of good behavior for the suspension period which may last as long as ten years. In addition, the individual will forfeit his or her license for six months. An offender who violates any of these terms will have to appear before the judge to explain the circumstances of the violation. The explanation will be critical because the judge may revoke the suspension and adjust the sentence to include harsher or more restrictive terms.
POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA IN VIRGINIA
Possession of marijuana in violation of Virginia Code section 18.2-250.1 is classified as a misdemeanor but it still has serious ramifications. Although some states have legalized the use of marijuana, such use remains illegal in Virginia. Some judges consider marijuana to be just as dangerous as other illegal substances found on the streets. Although these other substances historically have been considered more dangerous, a recent study suggesting that even the casual use of marijuana causes physical changes to the human brain may provide some support for the position these tougher judges have taken.
Possession of Marijuana in Virginia: First Offense
A first offense for marijuana possession carries up to thirty days in jail and a $500 fine. Individuals may be eligible for dismissal of the charge if they comply with the statutory requirements for a first offender. These requirements include a six month loss of license, twenty five hours of community service, an assessment for substance abuse, completion of any treatment deemed necessary, and compliance with probation. Individuals also must remain drug-free and alcohol-free, keep the peace, and maintain good behavior for six months. If all of these requirements are met, the judge will dismiss the charge.
Possession of Marijuana in Virginia: Second Offense
A second offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries up to twelve months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and a mandatory six-month license suspension. In addition, many jurisdictions impose actual jail time on the “second offense” when such a case is actually the person’s third offense. This happens when the individual’s first offense has been dismissed. That person’s second offense is then treated as a first offense. But if that individual reoffends, the judge knows that the new appearance, although called a second offense, is the result of a third offense.
VIOLATIONS OF YOUR CONSTITUTIONALLY PROTECTED RIGHTS
Your Fourth Amendment Protection Against Unlawful Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees individuals protection against unlawful search and seizure. This protection, which applies in every state, is aimed squarely at ensuring that law enforcement conducts its investigations fairly and properly. It covers government searches of your home, other property in your possession, your car, and even your body.
Judicial scrutiny of law enforcement search and seizure methods and practices is a key part of the criminal justice system. The prosecutor can and will use lawfully obtained evidence against you. But what happens if some of the Commonwealth’s case is based on unlawfully obtained evidence?
The judge generally knows little or nothing about what happened before your arrest and will not sift through the facts of your case and law enforcement’s actions unless someone demands such scrutiny. It is your attorney’s responsibility to challenge improperly obtained evidence. Courts consider legal challenges to searches and seizures every day and exclude improperly obtained evidence, even if it is highly incriminating. In some cases, exclusion of certain evidence can be so legally significant that the prosecutor will no longer have sufficient evidence to maintain the charges against you and the case must be dismissed.
Because the right to be free of unreasonable government searches and seizures is central to our criminal justice system, appellate courts regularly review trial court evidentiary decisions. Appellate decisions, including those of the Supreme Court, contour the law—and police procedures—nationwide. Most of the changes in interpretation favor law enforcement. Sometimes, however, a conviction can be overturned because it was based on improperly obtained evidence.
With the stakes so high, it is critical that the attorney you hire remains current on this ever-changing aspect of criminal procedure. Sara Gaborik has successfully challenged Fourth Amendment violations in General District and Circuit Courts and stays current on changes in the law to ensure that her clients remain protected.
Because marijuana possession is a misdemeanor, many think pleading guilty to a possession charge is the easiest route to resolving the matter and assume the consequences, if any, will be negligible. This is far from the truth, particularly for students seeking financial aid for college expenses. A possession conviction, even for marijuana, will make you ineligible for federal student loans. This is one of the most important reasons for consulting an attorney before doing anything that might assist law enforcement in securing a conviction. Ms. Gaborik can advise you whether your case can be challenged or if there are alternatives to a conviction available to you.
SARA GABORIK WORKS EXTENSIVELY WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE CLIENTS IN RICHMOND & CENTRAL VIRGINIA
Sara Gaborik has been the pro bono attorney for the Richmond Adult Drug Treatment Court for several years and has gained in-depth knowledge about substance abuse and its effects. This special knowledge has proven invaluable in arguing for alternative sentences, reductions, and lesser time for individuals struggling with addiction.
CALL FOR A LEGAL CONSULTATION
Sara Gaborik has represented defendants in drug possession cases for over a decade. If you are facing such charges, you should not go it alone. For your legal consultation, call Ms. Gaborik at (804) 334-4351 or (804) 780-3080.