Many people in Virginia who are arrested for drug offenses are charged with simple possession of marijuana as a first offender. Even a first conviction can result in a jail sentence, fine, and a permanent criminal record. However, it is possible to have the charges dismissed by entering into Virginia’s First Offender Program. Here’s what you need to know about this program if you have been charged with possession of marijuana and this is your first offense.
How Virginia’s First Offender Program Works
The Virginia First Offender Program is also referred to as the 251 program and is a discretionary program for people who have never been convicted of a drug offense. A person charged with simple possession of other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, or oxycodone, may also qualify for this program. However, it is not available if a person is being charged with a drug distribution offense.
While it can be beneficial to have your charges dismissed under the First Offender Program, you must meet a number of strict requirements to successfully complete the program. Some of these include:
- You must plead guilty, no contest, or stipulate that the evidence against you is sufficient for the court to find you guilty. This can have ramifications on your immigration status and may result in your deportation even if you successfully complete the program. It could also be treated as a conviction by employers and affect your ability to obtain a job or security clearance.
- You must acknowledge that any violation of the probationary terms of the programs is grounds for the court to find you guilty. This means that you will not be able to raise defenses to the charges, would be convicted, and would be sentenced by the judge.
- You will be placed on six months of active probation with the county Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) and an additional six months of inactive probation.
- Your driver’s license will be suspended for six months. However, you may have the option of performing additional community service to avoid your license being suspended.
- You are prohibited from using drugs or alcohol while on your probation.
- You agree to submit to random drug and alcohol tests.
- You must pay any costs and fines set by the judge.
- You must complete 24 hours of community service.
Let Us Help You Decide If the 251 Program Is Right for You
Are you being charged with marijuana possession? Is this your first offense? The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Tavss Fletcher are here to help you build a strong defense to the charges you face and help you decide whether it is in your best interests to enter into the First Offender Program. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your free case evaluation.