In Richmond, drug possession is always serious. What will determine the seriousness of the charge is, number one, the kind of drug that a person is found to be in possession of and number two, the quantity that they are found to be in possession of.
Something like a simple possession of marijuana, while still a serious charge, is a Class 1 misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in jail. Most cases, particularly those where there is no previous conviction, will result in probation. On the other hand, being in possession of a large quantity of marijuana can lead to a possession with intent to distribute charge, which is a felony. Being in possession of even small amounts of Schedule I or II drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine is also a serious felony. Possession of a sufficient amount of those can result in being charged with possession with intent to distribute, which is more serious and triggers even stiffer penalties.
If you are facing drug charges in Richmond, it is very important to contact a Richmond drug lawyer right away to ensure you receive a strong defense and that you have the potential to minimize the penalties you may face as much as possible.
Drug possession is a very high priority for law enforcement in Richmond. There is a drug trade in the Richmond area that includes everything from what are considered to be milder drugs, such as marijuana, to prescription drugs to the most dangerous kinds of drugs, like heroin and cocaine. Moreover, drugs are often a part of, or a causal factor in, a number of other kinds of crimes, including property crimes such as larceny or robberies, or violent crimes such as domestic violence or malicious wounding.
Often times, drugs are in the mix for other criminal charges and/or offenses. Law enforcement, in general, feels that if they cannot attack the drug trade, they will affect more than just drug use itself; they will also affect a number of other crimes which are caused, at least in part, by drug use.
There are a number of drugs that are of particular importance right now. One that is very commonly sighted in recent years is heroin. Because of impurities in the drugs that are being trafficked, there have been huge numbers of deaths that have been related to heroin use. Law enforcement and the local prosecutor’s office are very focused on detecting sale and use of that drug, and prosecuting those crimes as to cut down on the deaths and other dangers that have happened as a consequence of the elevated use of heroin.
Any time someone is charged with simple possession, and they have never previously been convicted of drug possession and have never previously taken advantage of a first offender program, they will be eligible to do a first offender program of some kind. In the case of marijuana, for which possession is a misdemeanor, it is a first offender program in a general district court that involves probation, community service, and the need to remain drug and alcohol free during the period of probation.
If they successfully complete that, the charge is dismissed. A similar thing happens for felony drug possession, except that it plays out in the Circuit Court. An individual who, for example, is found to be in possession of a Schedule I or II drug can avail themselves of a first offender program in circuit court where there will be probation supervision, community service, and other requirements, including potential treatment.
As long as they successfully complete the program, their charge is dismissed. On the other hand, if they are unsuccessful in meeting all of those conditions, or if they commit another crime or turn up dirty on a drug test that is administered during the probation, they may find themselves convicted of the underlying charge, which in the case of a felony is very serious.
It is important to contact experienced counsel early in your drug case for a number of reasons. The first is that there are a number of pieces of advice that counsel will give that may assist you in having a positive outcome in your case. This can be everything from coordinating communications with police, and in most cases cutting off communications with police, to assisting the person in getting into drug treatment to taking any number of other steps which may help them in their case.
Talking to an attorney early is also important because of the peace of mind that it can bring to an individual. Often the most difficult thing for defendants to grapple with in the course of a criminal prosecution is the unknown factor and the worry over what worst case scenario might befall them. Talking to an attorney early in the process takes a lot of the guessing and worry out of that process, and allows the person to begin to build a reasonable expectation about what the range of possibilities is for them under their particular circumstances.
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