Virginia takes drug possession offenses seriously; any person found in illegal possession of a Schedule I or II substance will face a Class 5 felony. However, a skilled attorney may be able to use Virginia state law and strategic defenses to get your charges or penalties reduced or dismissed. If you’ve been accused of drug possession, it’s important you understand what drug possession is and what defenses could apply to your case if you were wrongly accused.
Although there are many different drug charges—from using to selling—Virginia law defines drug possession as “knowingly or intentionally” possessing a controlled substance. However, Virginia names one exception. A person may possess a controlled substance if he or she also has a prescription that:
- Is valid
- Was written by a licensed practitioner
- Was provided during a doctor–patient interaction in a professional practice
This defense is easy to prove; a copy of the valid prescription and a signed affidavit from the prescribing doctor will likely suffice. However, the wording in the legal definition of drug possession provides options for other more complicated defenses.
A Closer Look at the Definition May Help Your Defense
Virginia law explicitly states that a valid prescription should void drug possession charges. However, an even closer read of Virginia code can help your defense. For example, a few defenses hinge on certain phrases in the definition—depending on the details of a case—and these include:
- “Knowingly and intentionally:” It’s possible that you have a controlled substance in your possession without knowing or intending to possess it. Even Virginia law says that the presence of a drug in a person’s car or residence does not mean that he was “knowingly and intentionally” in possession of the substance.
- “Possess:” Your attorney can show that you had insufficient or no opportunity to be in possession of a drug—as is the case when many people are present in a house or vehicle containing the controlled substance. Your attorney may be able to argue you were not the one in possession.
- “A controlled substance:” Perhaps what you had in your possession was not a drug at all. To prove this, your attorney may be able to use credible, careful lab testing
Other defenses, such as police lab error and illegal search, may also work for you. Your attorney will be able to explain how those may apply to your case.
Building a Solid Defense Calls for Legal Help
Meeting with an attorney after being accused of drug possession is crucial to avoiding stiff penalties, including possible jail time, hefty fines, and the stigma of a drug conviction. The legal team at Tavss Fletcher can look at your case and the evidence against you and advise you on other defenses that may apply to your situation. To request your free case review, start a live online chat on our website today.