The most common punishment for a first offense of Possession of Marijuana in Virginia is a “deferred disposition.” This means that the case will be continued for a period of time — usually six months to a year. The accused is forced to complete a drug education and treatment program, suffer a six month suspension of driving privileges, and be of “general good behavior.” Sometimes, a court will order community service. After the probationary period and terms are complete, the case is dismissed. (However, it is not an “expungable” dismissal. This means that one who completes this program will have no criminal “conviction” record, but that a record of the charges and disposition will remain public. Still, this can be a very good deal. Few crimes in Virginia have a program like this that can result in a dismissal for a reason other than acquittal).
One can get a restricted driver’s license to permit driving to and from work and for some other limited destinations during the suspension.
Some people ask, if I’m willing to have the conviction, can I keep my license? The answer is “no.” Whether one agrees to the deferred disposition arrangement or is convicted of Possession of Marijuana, the license suspension is mandatory.
Some people ask if they are eligible for a deferred disposition if a prior case was dismissed under this program. The answer is “no.” This is a once-in-a-lifetime “first offender” program.
Some people ask if there are any other options. The answer is “maybe.” There are many defenses to Possession of Marijuana. Many of the defenses are not intuitive. Anyone charged with Possession of Marijuana should meet with an attorney. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations.