If you were arrested and now face a charge of marijuana possession, you may think you have no chance of fighting the charges against you. Fortunately, this is not the case. In order to convict you of this charge, the Commonwealth must prove that you either knew about the marijuana or intended to have it in your possession. Proving the element of possession is not as easy as it may sound.
How the Government Proves the Element of Marijuana Possession
In order for you to be convicted of possession of marijuana in Virginia, the Commonwealth must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, all of the following:
- You were aware of the presence of the marijuana.
- You were aware of the character of the drug in your possession.
- You consciously possessed the marijuana.
If you were near the drug at the time of the arrest, that alone is not enough to convict you of possession. In addition, if the drug is found in your home, this is also not enough. There is not presumption of possession just because the drug was located in a house that you either owned or occupied.
While being near the drug or having it in your home is not enough by itself to convict you of possession, these factors can be used as circumstantial evidence against you. To convict you of possession of marijuana based on circumstantial evidence, the Commonwealth must demonstrate that your acts, statements, conduct, or other facts and circumstances indicate that you were both aware of the presence and character of the substance and that it was under your dominion and control.
Since a first offense penalty for possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor that can lead to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, it is important to take action quickly before simply resigning yourself to a guilty verdict. We are here to help. We encourage you to contact us today for more information at 888-386-3898.