Common Drug Charges in Virginia

Being charged with a crime can be a truly frightening ordeal and quite often can prevent an individual from doing certain things, going certain places, and having certain jobs. Drug charges, which can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, can and will cause major damage, not just because of the penalties that someone who is convicted will face, but also because of the stigma that it comes along with. Someone who has been charged with the possession of drugs should contact an experienced drug lawyer immediately. A lawyer will be able to advise someone who’s obtained a drug charge on the best way to approach their case and what they can do prior to their trial to mitigate the penalties of a possible conviction.

Penalties of a Drug Charge

A person who has been apprehended for a drug-related crime in Virginia can expect a full range of charges. The charges, however, are dependent on the circumstances of that individual’s case, including:

  • What the substance is.
  • The amount possessed.
  • Whether or not there is evidence that supports the intent to sell.
  • Prior criminal history.

Some drug offenses have a mandatory minimum sentence, especially the more serious drug crimes, and many of them are chargeable as a felony offense, which has additional consequences, including:

  • Loss of certain civil rights.
  • Increased jail or prison sentences.

Social Stigmas

Even minor drug offenses are problematic for employers and may have a social stigma. Employers will be reluctant to hire a person if the hiring staff think that she or he may have a substance abuse problem. The charge may also impact the person’s reputation with their family and in the community. The best way to avoid the negative stigma of a drug charge is to attain a lawyer who can build a strong defense in a drug-related case. A knowledgeable drug lawyer will also have the skill necessary to help their client avoid the penalties that accompany this type offense.

A person that is charged with a drug offense in Virginia should expect to have a urine screening so that the court can test for drug use, specifically the same illicit substance. A drug charge can:

  • Cause problems with existing or pending security clearances.
  • Affect immigration circumstances.
  • Employment.

Additionally, an individual that has been charged with the possession of drugs can expect to have their license suspended. This is pursuant to the statute if they are convicted or until they complete a diversionary program, which will allow them to ultimately get their case dismissed.

Understanding How Drug Charges Are Administered

An individual is normally charged by an arresting police officer, however, the prosecutor pushes the case forward through the court system. The prosecutors can change the charge and/or bring more charges. The prosecutor will also, ultimately, help resolve the case. In Virginia, a drug charge usually appears in the same way that other charges appear. Virginia records will show:

  • That a person is charged with a crime.
  • Lists the specific charge or crime.
  • Specifies whether or not the person is convicted of the crime.

The consequences that a person can experience if they are charged with a drug crime depends on what they have been found guilty of doing. It is crucial that someone who is being investigated for a drug-related crime or has already been charged gets in contact with a lawyer. They will be familiar with Virginia drug laws and will be able to help their client avoid making common mistakes prior to their trial that will be detrimental to their defense in court.

For misdemeanors, the maximum penalty is up to 12 months of incarceration and up to $2,500 in fines. For felonies, the penalty is more serious. Additionally, there is the social stigma attached to the charge; the accused may potentially be required to explain the charge to his or her current or future employer. In Virginia, if an individual has been convicted of a drug offense they will also face a license suspension of 6 months.

Knowing When To Contact A Lawyer

A person facing a drug charge in Virginia should contact a lawyer right away. The optimal time for someone to attain legal representation is in the moment that they think that they are under investigation for a crime. If he or she has already been charged or arrested, they should contact an attorney as soon as they are able to access the telephone. The sooner that legal representation is acquired, the sooner an attorney can begin building a defense that will hold up in court.

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