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Sentencing in Fairfax Drug Cases

In Fairfax, Virginia, courts are strict when it comes to drug infractions. Drug charges are serious and can be extremely damaging to a person’s personal and professional life, should they be found guilty.

It is a smart idea to speak with a Fairfax drug lawyer as early in the process as possible. By choosing to speak with an attorney early, a person maximizes their chances of tackling their defense straight away and do not have to worry about playing catch-up with the prosecution.

How Drug Cases Treated

For simple possession of marijuana with a small quantity, the majority of the time the police officer will issue a summons to the person. A summons means that the person is not physically arrested, but they have been charged charged and must appear in court to answer to the charge on a set date. Then, they get their court date and come to the General District Court in Fairfax County on the date that’s written on their summons. That is how the process starts.

If the person is in possession of a schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substance, which is a felony, then they will be placed under arrest by the officer and taken before a magistrate. The magistrate will determine bond and then that person will get an arraignment date for them to appear within the next week.

They are required to appear in the General District Court for them to be advised of their rights and advised of the penalties associated with the charges. Then, they are given their preliminary hearing date and told to bring or have their attorney enter their appearance on their case usually within two weeks of that date.

Factors That Determine Severity of Charge

Major factors that can affect the severity of someone’s charge would be the quantity of the drugs in question and then the schedule or type of drug it is. It also would depend on whether the person is possessing the drugs for personal use, whether they are selling the drugs for money, or whether they are giving them away to friends.

There is also the consideration of whether or not they are in possession of a firearm when they have the drugs or when they’re selling the drugs. This can all make a big difference and will dictate how the person is charged and subsequently penalized.

Available Fairfax Diversion Programs

There are diversion programs that are consistent with what is in the Virginia code for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. There is a program that involves supervised probation with twenty four hours of community service, drug testing, and loss of license for six months. Participation in this program can allow the offender to earn a dismissal of their charge.

Likewise, in Circuit Courts with simple possession of schedule 1 or 2 drugs there are also the diversion programs available. Fairfax County employs the same diversion programs for first time offenders.

Available Alternative Sentencing Programs in Fairfax

There are alternative sentencing programs available for first-time drug offenders in Fairfax, Virginia. For possession of marijuana, not with distribution of marijuana, there is what is commonly referred to as 251. What that means is a person enters a plea and acknowledges that the evidence is sufficient for the judge to find them guilty, but they have agreed to enter into and complete a probation program that includes, at the very least, 24 hours of community service, and drug testing. They have to remain on uniform good behavior for at least 12 months and they would also lose their privilege to drive for six months.

Also, for felony possession of a schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substance, there is a similar type of provision through the Circuit Court. In felony cases, the person would enter into a plea in Circuit Court, but the judge would not enter a finding of guilt. Instead the person would then be ordered on probation for one year.

They would submit to drug testing and treatment as directed by their probation officer and they must complete a hundred hours of community service, paid their court cost, and their driver’s license would also be suspended for six months.

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