Drug laws in Virginia are some of the harshest in the United States. Many drug cases in Virginia include potential felony charges. Even a drug case in Virginia involving marijuana is punishable with a misdemeanor charge, hefty fines, jail time, and even loss of driving privileges. If you find yourself facing a drug charge in Virginia, contacting a drug crime lawyer Fairfax VA is the best way to help mitigate damage and defend yourself. However, as a drug crime lawyer Fairfax VA knows, avoiding unnecessary drug charges altogether is the first and most efficient line of defense for any citizen.
One of the tactics law enforcement might use to get a drug charge in Virginia is the use of vague questions or statements to put you in a position of incriminating yourself. As a drug crime lawyer Fairfax VA, we have seen this with our own clients. Law enforcement may approach a citizen in or around a vehicle and use open-ended phrases, such as, “where is it?” or “I saw it,” or “I know you have it.” If you respond to such inquiries, you might unintentionally admit something that the officer can use against you for a drug charge in Virginia. Avoid self-incrimination by being respectful but unwavering. If you do incriminate yourself, or your vehicle is searched and a substance is found, call a drug crime lawyer Fairfax VA immediately. Depending upon the circumstances, a drug crime lawyer Fairfax VA may be able to challenge whether any substances found can be used as evidence against you in court.
A key term that might come into play in a drug crime case is “probable cause.” A drug crime lawyer Fairfax VA knows this concept concerns whether law enforcement has justification to search your home or vehicle. In Virginia, marijuana odor CAN establish probable cause. In the court case Bunch v. Commonwealth, 51 Va. App. 491 (2008), the “plain smell doctrine” became the operating policy for law enforcement. This means that the “detection of distinctive odors” can be used as probable cause in Virginia Id. at 496 (quoting United States v. Haynie, 637 F.2d 227, 234 (4th Cir. 1980). If a law enforcement officer smells marijuana, and they’re able to trace the source to an individual, the officer has probable cause in Virginia to assume that individual is breaking the law by possessing marijuana.
It is important to keep in mind that this article is not the be-all-end-all of drug laws in Virginia, but just one small example of a few different situations in which you may find yourself. There are many nuances to drug laws, including (but not limited to) the different classifications for different drugs in Virginia, possession vs dealing in Virginia, and the location of the drug offense in Virginia. There is also the fact that laws are constantly evolving and changing. It can be difficult to keep up with so many different laws and policies, which is why it is important to hire a drug crime lawyer Fairfax VA if you find yourself facing drug charges in Virginia. As a top drug crime lawyer Fairfax VA, our single, greatest piece of advice to avoid drug charges in Virginia is easy to remember: know the law, and follow the law! And when in doubt, call a lawyer at May Law, LLP today.