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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Summer Venues and Marijuana Possession

Summer in Northern Virginia is synonymous with the start of the concert season at the Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts. It is also the time of year when area residents plan to camp in the Prince William National Forest and take weekend drives along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Unlike Jiffy Lube Live, the Patriot Center, and the multitude of state parks in the Northern Virginia area, Wolftrap, the Prince William National Forest and the GW Parkway are “federal enclaves”. This means that misconduct at these venues can result in facing criminal charges in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division.

In other words, possession of just a small amount of marijuana can literally become a federal case. The United States Park Police routinely patrol the parking areas, overlooks and camp grounds. Often officers are dressed in plainclothes and are not easily identifiable. These federal officers can be aggressive in their efforts to uncover marijuana and alcohol possession.

In a case recently handled by our lawyers, we successfully persuaded the United States Attorney’s Office that the arresting officer’s aggressive behavior violated our client’s constitutional rights. In another recent case, an attorney at our law firm convinced a federal judge to suppress evidence of marijuana possession because the traffic stop which lead to the discovery of marijuana exceeded the permissible scope of the stop under the US Constitution. It is extremely important that every individual charged in federal court retain an experienced attorney to fully protect his or her rights.



Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is a Schedule I substance and possession is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted of possessing any amount of marijuana, a first time offender faces the possibility of up to one year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000. For a second conviction, the penalty increases to a 15-day mandatory minimum prison sentence with a maximum of two years as well as a minimum fine of $2,500. In addition, before even being convicted, persons charged with possession of marijuana may be subjected to an onerous pre-trial probationary period involving mandatory drug screens. The good news is that in Federal Court, some individuals may be eligible for a first-offender program, which in limited circumstances, may result in dismissal of the charge and expungment of the arrest record upon completion of the first-offender program.

The lawyers at Gross & Romanick, P.C. are experienced at representing individuals charged with possession of marijuana in Federal Court. If you are charged with possession of marijuana, it is highly recommended that you retain an attorney to represent you in Court. The attorneys at Gross & Romanick, P.C. have experience representing individuals facing criminal charges in both State and Federal Court and will zealously defend your rights.