Where Are Second Offense Drug Charges Heard in Virginia Beach?

Second offense drug offense charges are heard in the General District Court of Virginia Beach. If the charge is for a felony, then the preliminary hearing will be heard here, and then the trial will be in the Virginia Beach Circuit Court. The Circuit Court is located in the same building as the Virginia Beach General District Court, at 2425 Nimmo Parkway in Virginia Beach. Below, questions about the prosecution, penalties and sentencing are answered by a drug attorney in Virginia Beach.

How do Prosecutors Handle These Drug Offense Charges? Are They Prosecuted More Vigorously?

Prosecutors technically don’t handle second offenses for marijuana unless it is a felony charge. Prosecutors are tough on second offense felony marijuana charges. Sometimes it is very difficult to convince them to offer any type of plea deal for them at all.

Second offenses are prosecuted more vigorously than first offenses. The general rationale is that defendants charged with a second offense were already given a chance the first time and yet here they are in court again. This demonstrates that they really didn’t learn anything the first time, which warrants a harsher penalty  be imposed in hopes that maybe it may make a difference the second time.

What are the Penalties for Second Offense Drug Charges?

A second offense of possession of marijuana is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. The penalties for this are up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2500 and a 6 month license suspension. However, if someone is in possession of more than ½ ounce of marijuana, then there is a likelihood that they will be charged with possession with intent to distribute, which is classified as felony and carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The different facts of each case will determine whether the amount of marijuana warrants a conviction of simple possession of marijuana or of possession with the intent to distribute.

Does the Amount of Time Between Drug Offenses Matter?

The amount of time between drug offenses can make a difference sometimes. I have clients who are on probation for a first time drug offense and then they wind up with a charge for second time drug offense while they are still on probation. This situation is not one that judges view favorably at all, unless there is a good explanation as to why it happened again, and most of the time there tends not to be.

Judges generally like to see progress and growth. The reality is that drugs are an addiction that for a lot of people takes several weeks or months to fully walk away from. Time can make a difference but there are other factors that are considered along with it as well, such as whether the defendant has attempted to complete a rehabilitation program or has otherwise taken other steps to change those bad habits. I have found that judges are more willing to forgive a second charge shortly after a first charge if there is other evidence to show that the defendant is truly trying to kick the habit rather than that he just didn’t care.

Do They Offer Any Diversion Programs or Probation for Second Offense?

No, there is no third chance given after someone gets a break on the charge the first time. First time offenders are the only people who are ever offered diversion programs or probation.

How Do Courts Treat Second Offense Drug Charges and What the Comparisons Between the First Time Charged?

Courts will take into consideration all of the facts related to the case. Second time possession of marijuana is a higher charge than a first offense, however they are generally treated the same by the court. The only real difference in sentencing is that a deferred disposition is sometimes available for a first offense, but it is not available for a second offense.

By statute, the treatment for a second offense is harsher than it is for a first offense. Second time possession of marijuana is a Class 1 Misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2500. In contrast, first time possession of marijuana is an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by jail time of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $500. Second offenses typically will get a harsher penalty than a first offense but not merely by as much as the maximum penalties for each offense would suggest.