Defending the Accused in Criminal and Traffic Courts Across Virginia Since 2012

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Marijuana/Drug Crime

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With the exception of marijuana, most drug crimes are treated as felonies in Virginia.  These charges can hurt a person’s ability to maintain employment, housing, and immigration status.  A first offense of possession of an illegal drug, may qualify for a diversion program that will ultimately allow you to avoid a conviction, but will not necessarily avoid immigration problems if you are not an American citizen.  A second offense does not qualify for such a program.  Distribution of an illegal drug other than marijuana often carries a prison sentence, even for a first offense.If you’ve been charged with drug possession or distribution, you will need the assistance of an attorney in court.  If your rights were violated or if you did not know the drug was near you, it may be possible to win your case.  There may also be another defense available to you that can be explained by a qualified attorney.  Call Jennifer Raimo today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the circumstances leading up to your drug charge and any possible defenses you may have.

 

This is my first offense and they’ve got me. Can I keep this off my record?

There is a diversion program for first offense drug possession cases. It requires community service (how much depends on whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor), payment of court costs, a drug abuse program, and a 6 month suspension of your driver’s license.  If you successfully complete the program (and many addicts don’t), the case will be dismissed.  The case can never be expunged and you won’t be able to hide the arrest from anyone who does a detailed background check, but there will be no conviction on your record.

This program may be a good deal for some, but not for others, especially immigrants. USCIS treats participation in the program as a conviction in most cases. In many cases, that could trigger deportation proceedings or prevent you from coming back to the United States if you ever leave the country.

Regardless of your citizenship or immigration status and even if you are guilty, you should discuss your case with a lawyer to learn whether there are any possible defenses and to decide for yourself ahead of time whether the diversion program is a good option for you. Call Jennifer Raimo at (703)591-4868 or email her at jraimo@raimolawoffice.com to schedule a free 30 minute legal analysis of your case.

 

What if I don’t want my license to be suspended?

Judges don’t have a choice. If you are convicted of a drug possession or distribution, they are required to suspend your license. They can authorize a restricted license to let you drive to work, school, a probation office, church, medical appointments, and some limited child-related reasons.

If you are charged with marijuana, especially a true first offense, a lawyer may be able to negotiate with a prosecutor to change the charge or sometimes even drop the charge if we can show a good reason to do that.  This is not something a judge can do for you on her own, but the lawyers can agree to ask the judge to do.  Even though you are not likely to go to jail and a lawyer would cost more than the fine for marijuana, it may be worth it to you if your license is that important to you.

 


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