Possession of Marijuana Law and Procedure for Alexandria, Virginia

The prosecution of simple cases of possession of marijuana in Alexandria is different than the prosecution of these cases in other Virginia jurisdictions.

The Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney declared that his team is expected to dismiss cases of marijuana possession, including second and subsequent offense possession of marijuana cases, if defendants agree to participate in the Alexandria diversion of charges program thats lasts typically 6-9 months.

The Alexandria Marijuana Diversion Program requires participants to “undergo a drug screening, to comply with pretrial supervision, and to complete a small amount of community service.” Cases will generally be continued 6 to 9 months and then reviewed for compliance. Successful completion of the program will result in the case being dismissed. People in the diversion program will not have to pay court costs or fines.

Under Virginia law, marijuana possession remains unlawful. While state law offers a dismissal under a “251 Dismissal” program, the courtesy of dismissal only applies to first time marijuana offenders. Moreover, under Virginia law, such a dismissal is not subject to expungement. The Alexandria program does not limit dismissal opportunity to just first time offenders and permits expungement.

According to the Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney, “because our program does not require the court to enter a finding of guilt, a person who successfully completes our program may petition to have the charge expunged from his record. My office will liberally agree to such requests if the legal requirements for expungement are satisfied.”

 


PRESS RELEASE:

Porter Announces Marijuana Diversion Program

Bryan Porter, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Alexandria, announced the initiation of a new diversion program for misdemeanor possession of marijuana offenses. Effective September 3, 2019, citizens charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana who successfully complete the diversion program will have their charges dismissed.

Porter noted: “The Virginia Code contains a first-offender statute that allows people with no prior drug convictions a chance to avoid a criminal conviction. Our new program goes further than the state code in several important ways. First, generally speaking, anyone charged with a small amount of marijuana for personal use is eligible to participate, even if they have a prior criminal record. Second, participants in our diversion program are not required to pay any court costs or fines. Third, because our program does not require the court to enter a finding of guilt, a person who successfully completes our program may petition to have the charge expunged from his record. My office will liberally agree to such requests if the legal requirements for expungement are satisfied.”

The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Marijuana Diversion Program requires participants to undergo a drug screening, to comply with pretrial supervision and to complete a small amount of community service. Cases will generally be continued 6 to 9 months and then reviewed for compliance. Successful completion of the program will result in the case being dismissed.

Porter concluded his remarks by noting: “My duty is to seek justice for the entire community—including persons charged with offenses—and that duty requires me to implement thoughtful policies with regard to low-level and non-violent crimes. My hope is that the majority of marijuana possession offenses will be diverted from the adjudication process, allowing my staff to focus on more serious crimes. I am particularly pleased that offending citizens who complete our program will be eligible for expungement and may therefore avoid the negative consequences a criminal record causes in employment, education and housing.”

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