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Virginia drug law needs reform for treatment over punishment

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Virginia drug law is overly harsh and needs a full-court press defense, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

Virginia drug law is overly harsh and too merciless. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know not only the damage done to Virginia criminal defendants by the decades-long drug wars, but also the excessive cost to our tax dollars and government budgets, and how the drug wars have made ours an overly-policed state that pours billions of dollars nationwide into law enforcement. When the president — who was among the driving architects of the insane drug wars — pardons all federal simple marijuana possession defendants, that will hopefully also influence judges, prosecutors and lawmakers that the sky does not fall when marijuana possession is legalized, and that it is more costly to continue criminalizing marijuana cultivation and sales, and to not heavily decriminalize all other drugs, than to continue with the status quo. The focus of addressing fallout from drug abuse should treatment over punishment.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jon Katz talks with Voice of America about pardoning marijuana defendants in the midst of harsh Virginia drug law

Today, Voice of America Afrique interviewed me in French about the president’s decision to pardon all those who have gotten caught up with federal criminalization of simple marijuana possession, including many of my clients. On top of that, the president wisely urges American governors to follow suit. Here is the full 2 1/2 minute interview.  (The interview is in French. I have spoken French for decades, followed by Spanish for nearly thirty years, which is key in disintegrating language barriers between me and my Virginia criminal defendant and DUI defense clients.) My focus is that this pot pardon effort is a boon to civil liberties and helps reduce the high cost of the criminal justice system. This is not politically motivated by Biden to get re-elected. His major shift on marijuana is informed by how the sky has not fallen as we see slews of states legalizing and heavily decriminalizing pot. I pointed out that Bernie Sanders supports legalization of marijuana, when he told me around 1994 that he was not ready to support cannabis legalization at the time. As a criminal defense lawyer, paramount for me is fighting for clients caught in the Virginia drug law and prosecuted for other alleged crimes.

Virginia criminal defendants need to fight tooth and nail against all criminal prosecutions

While drug reformers continue making headway to reform Virginia drug law and drug law and policy nationwide, Virginia criminal defendants need to fight their cases tooth and nail. The adverse sentencing, liberty, reputational and collateral risks (for instance for security clearances, employment and immigration status) can be harsh with a conviction. Even the Virginia 251 statute that enables an ultimate case dismissal for successful probation for a first-time drug possession case carries with it the potential sting that the essential initial finding of facts sufficient to convict can be treated as a conviction for the foregoing collateral risks as well as for purposes of risking violating any existing probation for other cases.

How do I find the right criminal defense lawyer when charged with a drug crime, felony, misdemeanor or Virginia DUI offense?

You cannot successfully fight your prosecution for violating the Virginia drug law or other criminal laws by yourself. Do not delay in finding the right Virginia criminal lawyer for you, starting with my tips for choosing a Virginia criminal defense lawyer and free webinar for doing so. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer having successfully defended thousands of people charged with violating the Virginia DUI, felony and misdemeanor laws, I will be delighted to speak with you to create a game plan for pursuing your best defense against your criminal case. Call 703-383-1100 for your free in-person initial consultation with me about your court-pending case.