State laws about drug possession and similar crimes change frequently as public opinion evolves. In many states, the penalties for drug possession have declined significantly in recent years. In fact, many states have legalized the possession of certain drugs, especially marijuana.
More states than not at this point have passed medical and recreational legalization measures. Others have decriminalized the possession of small amounts or at least reduced the sentences possible over simple possession. Most states stop creating new marijuana prohibition policies once they pass a law legalizing or decriminalizing minor possession offenses.
However, Virginia is not a state to blindly follow trends established elsewhere. Lawmakers here have employed a more blended approach to updated marijuana laws. In addition to decriminalizing the possession of less than an ounce in some cases, they have also created a new category of marijuana offense that can lead to misdemeanor criminal charges.
What Virginia lawmakers recently did
Virginia lawmakers sought to reinforce and uphold the laws currently prohibiting marijuana possession as part of last year’s budget bill. Even after lawmakers looked into reducing the penalties for small amounts of marijuana, they still created a new category of possession offense.
If someone in a public place has more than four ounces of marijuana in their possession but less than a pound, they may end up arrested. The state can charge them with a Class 3 misdemeanor, which can lead to a $500 fine for a first offense and up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines for a second or subsequent offense.
Tracking legal changes can protect you
When you understand that the laissez-faire attitude applied to marijuana prohibition in many other states does not determine how either the police or the courts handle marijuana possession charges in Virginia, you can make smarter personal decisions.
Those familiar with the details of state law will also have an easier time developing an appropriate criminal defense strategy following their arrest. Those accused of violating marijuana possession laws in Virginia could face jail time, fines and the numerous challenges that a criminal record creates for an individual. Fighting back against drug charges in Virginia is the best way to prevent a simple mistake from irrevocably changing your life.