West Virginia Drug Possession Laws
Being caught in possession of a controlled substance is not good, no matter where you are. But in some states the penalties are significantly less than in others. West Virginia is one of those states where drug possession charges are met with relatively lenient, but still serious penalties.
If you make the decision to possession drugs, you make the decision to accept the risk of getting caught. However, this doesn’t always mean you will be punished. Whether the search police executed was illegal or if you are truly innocent, a local criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you clear your name.
Conditional Discharge for First-Time Drug Possession Offenders
Perhaps the biggest feature of West Virginia drug statutes is the conditional discharge law. This basically says that those accused of a drug charge for the first time will get a second chance. Unlike in other states, where conditional discharge usually only applies to marijuana charges, in West Virginia, it can apply to other drugs as well.
Conditional discharge works by ordering the accused to a period of probation before trial. The court proceedings are deferred during this period. If you successfully complete the probation, the charges against you will be dismissed. Six months later, you can move to have all records related to the case expunged. Then—aside from records the court must keep to know you already had your single-allowed conditional discharge—it’s as if the charge never happened.
However, if you violate the probation, your case could move forward to trial as if the conditional discharge was never an option.
W. Va. §60A-4-407
West Virginia Drug Possession Penalties
Unlike in other states, where the penalty you face for possession of drugs depends on the specific drug you were caught with, the state of West Virginia treats them equally. Whether you are caught with marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD, or a prescription drug that isn’t lawfully yours, you will face a similar penalty.
Under West Virginia law (§60A-4-401), possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted, you could face 90 days to 6 months in jail with fines reaching up to $1,000.
If this is your second or third offense, that penalty could be doubled.
More Serious Drug Charges in W.Va.
Depending on the facts of your case and the jurisdiction in which you are caught, the prosecutor could make a case for charging you with “possession with intent to distribute”. This is done when the prosecution believes they have enough evidence to prove the drugs you had weren’t only for your personal use. Possession with intent, like drug distribution, is a far more serious charge than drug possession, with far more severe penalties.
Whether you are caught with a joint or several ounces, marijuana or crack-cocaine, you need someone on your side throughout the criminal process. We can put you in touch with someone who may be able to help.