If the police stop you, and they find you in possession of cannabis and/or cannabis paraphernalia, you could face criminal charges. Holding smaller amounts of cannabis is generally considered to be “for personal use.” In most jurisdictions, a small amount of cannabis may be considered simple possession of marijuana. However, if you are found to possess a large amount of cannabis and the police have reason to believe you are selling or distributing, you may be charged with “possession with intent to distribute,” you could face serious drug charges.
Virginia Laws on Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, the mere act of being caught holding cannabis may not be enough proof to warrant a possession charge. The Commonwealth is required to provide further evidence that the holder did indeed intend to distribute. If a person is caught holding more than half an ounce but fewer than five pounds of cannabis, they may be charged with a Class 5 felony under Virginia law. Class 5 felonies are punishable by incarceration for a minimum of one year. The maximum jail time for a Class 5 felony is 10 years. Judges have the discretion to sentence first-time offenders to jail time of no more than one year plus a fine not to exceed $2,500. For more information on felonies and misdemeanors in Virginia, visit:
Virginia Law Regarding Sale and Delivery of Cannabis
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, being caught intending to distribute more than five pounds, but fewer than 220 pounds of cannabis is a felony. As such, the penalty is severe. A person proven to have intention to distribute a significant weight of cannabis may be incarcerated for no fewer than five years, to a maximum of 30 years. A person proven to have intention to distribute more than 100 kg of cannabis may be sent to prison for a period of 20 years to life. If a defendant can prove certain mitigating factors, a judge may reduce the mandatory sentence of 20 years for possession with intent.
Factors That May Affect Penalty
There are a number of factors that a judge may take into consideration during the sentencing phase of a court trial for possession with intent to distribute cannabis. Some of these factors that may increase a penalty include:
- Prior convictions for cannabis or other drug-related offenses.
- Credible threats of violence or actual violence involved with the offense.
- Firearm possession at the time of the offense.
- Possession of other dangerous weapons at the time of the offense
Factors that may mitigate, or lessen penalty:
- No bodily injury or death occurred as a result of the offense.
- The defendant was not a ring leader, manager, organizer or supervisor of co-defendants.
- The defendant was cooperative with police.
- The defendant was cooperative with the court.
Please remember that no two possession cases are exactly the same. If you are charged with possession of cannabis or possession with intent to distribute, you should consult a criminal defense attorney to help you to understand all of your legal options.
Virginia Law Regarding Distribution to Minors
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, distribution by an adult of more than one ounce of cannabis to a person under the age of 18 is a very serious offense. It is a felony charge and carries a penalty of at least five years in jail to a maximum of 50 years behind bars. In addition, a judge may levy a $100,000 fine against the defendant.
Virginia Law Regarding Distribution in School Zones
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a person caught holding more than a half-ounce of cannabis within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop or school property may be charged with a Class 5 felony. Virginia imposes a minimum penalty of one year in prison for such crimes. A judge may sentence a person caught with cannabis in a school zone with up to five years behind bars. The judge may also levy a $100,000 fine against the defendant.
If a defendant in a school zone distribution case can prove that he or she was acting on behalf of or as a not-for-profit favor for someone else, the judge may lessen the penalty at his or her discretion. The judge may even reduce the charge to a slightly less severe Class 1 felony that is punishable by less than one year in jail and a significantly lesser fine.
We Are Ready To Represent You
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or possession or marijuana with intent to distribute – you need to work with a legal professional. The Brown Firm PLLC has extensive experience defending individuals during court proceedings. Our criminal defense lawyers are prepared to ensure you receive the best possible result for your case by aggressively protecting your rights in court. When dismissal of your charges is not an option, we will seek to mitigate your charges so that you may receive a lesser penalty.
We offer free initial consultations by phone or at our offices to help you understand your options moving forward. Call The Brown Firm PLLC or, send us a message online with a description of your case to get started.