Despite changing social attitudes about drug use, Virginia’s laws remain relatively strict. Those accused of possession of controlled and prohibited substances regularly face prosecution. The type of substance and the total weight of the substance in question directly influences which charges Virginia prosecutors opt to pursue and what penalties a judge can impose.
Oftentimes, state authorities will file the most severe charges they can and file multiple charges for a single offense. For example, those caught in possession of drugs may also have be affected by possession drug accessories or paraphernalia that can lead to secondary charges.
Possessing paraphernalia is also a crime
It is illegal to possess the tools used to store, consume, distribute or manufacture different drugs. Syringes, scales, glass pipes and even special containers intended to hide drugs from the public could all constitute paraphernalia under Virginia law. The possession of paraphernalia is an offense separate from the possession of drugs, and it can lead to additional penalties.
The state can charge someone with a Class 1 misdemeanor for possession of drug paraphernalia. The possible penalties a judge could impost after a conviction or guilty plea include up to $2,500 in fines and 12 months in jail. A guilty plea to a possession charge could very well also mean pleading guilty to any secondary paraphernalia charges.
Those accused of drug violations in Virginia may, therefore, want to review the evidence against them carefully with the assistance of an attorney to see what options they may have for a defense strategy. Understanding why prosecutors might file multiple charges for a single arrest may help people better respond to pending charges.