Drug Offense Attorney
Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer
In Virginia, it is against the law to possess, transport, sell, manufacture, or distribute a controlled substance. The Commonwealth takes a harsh stance against drug crimes. Upon conviction, you could be facing substantial fines, years in prison, and a permanent criminal record.
If you have been accused of a drug crime, your future and your freedom are at risk. Contact a Virginia criminal defense attorney for help.
Michael A. Pignone, of the Law Offices of Michael Pignone, has more than a decade of experience. We will fight to protect your legal rights and help achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
Types of Virginia Drug Offense Cases We Handle
Drug related offenses that our firm can assist you with include the following.
- Manufacturing and cultivation,
- Trafficking, and
We can also assist with prescription drug cases and federal drug charges. Whether you were arrested for possession of marijuana in Virginia or any other type of drug offense, contact us to learn more about your options.
Virginia Drug Offense Penalties and Charges
Because Virginia takes drug crimes so seriously, almost every potential charge carries the threat of jail or prison in addition to substantial fines.
In Virginia, controlled substances are grouped into six “schedules” based on the potential for abuse and known medical uses. The consequences of an offense are greatly determined by the classification of the drug(s) in question with schedule I drugs associated with the most severe punishments.
Examples of schedule I drugs can include heroin, ecstasy, and LSD. Punishments can depend on factors including the location of the alleged event, a defendant’s past criminal history (particularly for other drug crimes), and the amount of a drug in question.
Drug crimes can be charged as both felonies and misdemeanors, and without an aggressive defense, charges can often overlap. For example, an individual accused of possession may also be facing charges for distribution. Depending on the amount of drug in question, a defendant may also be charged with trafficking.
In addition to fines and time behind bars, a drug crime conviction will leave you with a permanent criminal record. This can affect your ability to get a job or rent an apartment. You may also become ineligible for student loans and other federal benefits.
You won’t be able to obtain or hold a professional license or work in certain fields. You could face supervised probation or be required to perform community service. You will be responsible for court costs and fees, and you may have to attend (and pay for) court-mandated substance abuse classes.
Every case will contain unique factors, and to learn more about the specific penalties you may face, contact the firm to discuss the details of your case.
Potential Defense Strategies for Drug Offenses in Virginia
The best approach to your case will depend on the circumstances of your arrest. However, Virginia drug offense lawyers can use a variety of strategies to help get your charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
We will begin by investigating the circumstances of your arrest and gathering the available evidence. We will carefully evaluate the actions of the responding officers. We identify any potential violations of your legal rights and look for any mistakes the police may have made at any time before, during, and after your arrest. We can use any potential errors as the basis of your criminal defense.
Some of the most common defense strategies in drug cases include the following.
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion
To pull you over or enter your property, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime. If officers did not have reasonable suspicion but proceeded to search you anyway, they may not have a valid case.
Lack of Probable Cause
If the police did not have probable cause for an arrest, we may be able to use this as the basis for your defense.
Illegal Search and Seizure
Police officers must follow the law when searching your person, your home, your car, etc. If they violated your legal rights in any way, we can move to have any evidence they obtained thrown out.
Chain of Custody Errors
The police must follow established protocols for securing and storing evidence in your case. If any of these protocols were violated, it could provide grounds for disallowing the evidence and, ultimately, having your charges dismissed.
We can also look at how the police assert that you were in possession of an illegal substance. Unless you had actual possession—meaning the drugs were in your pocket, handbag, backpack, etc.—the prosecutor may have a harder time proving their case.
Our primary objective is to get the charges against you dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. In some cases, we may suggest that you agree to participate in a drug diversion program or deferred adjudication. As a last resort, we may recommend going to trial and making the strongest possible case for you in court.
Drug Diversion Programs
If a defendant meets specific criteria, they may qualify for a deferment program in place of formal charges. Eligibility requires that an offender enters a guilty plea and that it is the first such offense. Careful consideration must be given to this option, and before accepting, the firm can work with you to explore your possible defenses.
Program requirements may include some or all of the following:
- Completion of a substance abuse program;
- Payment of all related program costs and fees;
- Remaining free of alcohol and drugs (subject to random testing);
- Maintaining employment or making an effort to seek employment;
- Community service (for felony charges); and
- License suspension.
Upon completion of the program, the case against you may be dismissed. However, your record may show that you were charged and enrolled in the deferment program. If at any point, a defendant violates the program terms, the charges may be reinstated for which a guilty plea was previously submitted.
Secure Powerful Drug Crimes Defense
Whether you have been charged with possession of marijuana or distribution of a schedule I controlled substance, the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone can help you to overcome the legal hurdles which lie ahead.
The firm’s Virginia criminal defense attorney is highly experienced with drug related offenses and can fight tirelessly to defend your freedom. Did the arresting officer have probable cause? Was there an unlawful search conducted? If you are facing criminal charges, the firm can help you to explore the full range of your legal options.
Call and begin building a hard-hitting defense. Our Firm is proud to serve clients throughout Prince William, Fauquier, and Fairfax Counties.