Law enforcement officials throughout the US have been cracking down on drug offenders for decades, and statistics from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services reveal the extent of these efforts. According to the Virginia Crime and Drug Arrest Trends, around 36,000 people are arrested for various drug crimes every year, including possession, selling, and manufacturing controlled substances. Even though marijuana has been decriminalized or legalized in many US states, authorities continue to pursue and prosecute those who violate the state’s strict drug laws.
However, a drug crimes arrest is not the equivalent of a conviction. There are multiple defenses to the charges and different ways to avoid jail time if you qualify. Taking advantage of these opportunities can be complicated from a legal standpoint, so it’s wise to retain a Virginia drug crimes defense lawyer to obtain a favorable outcome. Meanwhile, you might find it helpful to review some of your options.
- Disprove Prosecutor’s Case: An initial strategy in any criminal case is to expose weaknesses in the evidence allegations against you. Always remember that the prosecution must prove all elements of a drug crimes case beyond a reasonable doubt, including knowledge and intent regarding possession, sale, or manufacturing a controlled substance. If the prosecutor fails in meeting the high standard of a criminal case, you may be acquitted or have the charges dropped.
- Defenses to Drug Crimes Charges: There are multiple defenses available under Virginia’s drug laws, including:
- Unlawful search and seizure;
- The drugs were not within your control for purposes of possession;
- You’re registered through Virginia’s medical marijuana program;
- You were entrapped by officials; and,
- Many others.
- Plea Bargaining: You and your attorney may be able to work out an agreement regarding the charges you’re facing. Typically, you’ll have to agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge or reduced sentence, potentially allowing you to avoid imprisonment. Prosecutors are often willing to plea bargain when they know the evidence is weak and/or you may have a defense; as such, it may not be the best alternative if you have a strong chance of beating the charges entirely.
- Deferred Adjudication: If you have never been convicted of a drug offense or other designated crimes, you may be able to enter a specific type of drug probation program under Virginia law. In short, you do plead guilty to the charges, but it’s not officially entered in court. Instead, the proceedings are deferred until such time as you complete the conditions of your probation. Typically, the terms involve completing substance abuse treatment or an education program.
- Virginia’s Drug Treatment Court: The goal of Virginia’s Judicial System drug treatment court system is helping an individual overcome dependency and abuse issues, so they can lead productive drug-free lives. You must work closely with counselors throughout various stages of the drug treatment court process, but you’ll typically stay out of jail as you proceed through the recovery process.
Contact a Virginia Drug Crimes Defense Attorney About Your Options
One or more of these alternatives for avoiding jail time in a Virginia drug case may work for your situation, but you’ll need experienced legal counsel to help with the criminal process. The eligibility rules are strict and the proceedings are complex if you don’t have a background in law.
You can trust our drug crimes defense lawyers at Shannon & Associates, P.C. to explain the relevant concepts, assist with the court proceedings, and protect your interests. For more information on our legal services, please contact our offices in Chesapeake, VA to set up a consultation. Once we review your unique circumstances, we can advise you on your rights.