First-time drug offenders in Virginia have a tool they can use to potentially avoid jail time and a permanent criminal record. Rebecca Wade, partner at Wade, Grimes, Friedman, Meinken & Leischner, PLLC shares the details on Virginia 251.
What is Virginia 251?
Virginia 251, more formally known as VA Code § 18.2-251 (2013), is a legislative act passed in Virginia that protects defendants facing first-time drug possession charges from entering a guilty verdict. Instead, the court places the defendant on probation, requiring them to meet terms and conditions. When all conditions are met, the court can make the decision to dismiss the charge.
Do I Qualify for Virginia 251?
To qualify for Virginia 251, defendants must meet the all following qualifications:
- Must be a first offender
- Have no previous conviction or convictions for violating any federal or state statute relating to narcotic drugs, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drugs
- Can not have had a previous drug possession charge dismissed under a 251 Disposition
- Must be charged with possession of a controlled substance
- Defendant must plead guilty or the court must find sufficient evidence to justify a finding of guilt
What are the Terms and Conditions?
While terms and conditions may vary depending on the charge and the judge overseeing the case, conditions may include:
- Performing at least 100 hours of community service for a felony
- Performing up to 24 hours of community service for a misdemeanor
- Drug and alcohol tests
- Refraining from drug and alcohol use
- Seeking or maintaining employment
- Participating in education and/or treatment programs
- Six-month suspension of driver’s license or restricted license for special circumstances
Note: A 251 finding could still be considered a “conviction” for immigration purposes and non-citizens should seek immigration-specific counsel prior to accepting a 251 disposition.
For those facing a first-time drug possession charge, it’s important to consider all legal options. To learn more about Virginia 251 or other legal negotiations for charges of a similar nature, please contact Rebecca Wade.
About the Author
Rebecca Wade is a partner at Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC, practicing in all areas of family law and criminal law having experience with protective orders, divorce, child custody and visitation, child protective services investigations, juvenile delinquency, and criminal charges.
Wade has been named a 2023 Best Lawyer in America by U.S. News & World Report, a 2023 Super Lawyer in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., and a 2020-2021 Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine.
Whether you are facing a family law, protective order, estate planning, bankruptcy and/or criminal-law-related issue, Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC is here for you during challenging times.