251 disposition program is an option for Virginia first-time offenders
For most people charged with drug possession, the drug at issue is marijuana.Their mind races as they begin to question how this will affect their future, their job prospects, financial aid for college, immigration status, and many other important matters in their life.Not only that, but beyond marijuana, in today’s world the use of drugs like opioids is at crisis levels. Virginia’s courts and jails are overburdened by drug possession cases. The saddest part of all is that incarceration does not help drug abusers get the treatment they need.
Virginia state law has a program that allows people who are charged with a first-time drug offense to be placed on probation. If they complete a treatment or education program, perform community service, and remain drug and alcohol free during their probation, their case will be dismissed. This option is called the 251 disposition program.
251 dismisses drug charges for eligible offenders after completing probation
To be eligible for 251 disposition, you must:
- Be a first-time offender.This means you cannot have any prior conviction for drug possession or distribution in any state in the United States related to
- Have no previous charges dismissed under a 251 disposition or similar statute in another state.
- Be charged with possession of controlled substance or marijuana
- Must plead guilty or be likely to be found guilty
- Undergo a substance abuse assessment
- Complete a program called “VASAP”.This program is licensed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and is provided by a local community-based probation service.Random urine screens can be utilized while you participate in this program and it normally lasts for 2-3 months.
- Pay for all or part of the costs of the program, including screening, assessment, testing and treatment
- Remain drug and alcohol free during probation
- Perform 24 – 100 hours for community service
- Narcotic drugs
- Stimulant, depressant or hallucinogenic drug
The 251 disposition name refers to the Code of Virginia law section: 18.2-251. According to this law, a first-time offender is placed on probation with several conditions. The offender must:
In addition, your driver’s license can be suspended for six months if you were driving a motor vehicle at the time you were in possession of the drug. After the probation ends, the charges will be dismissed, however the offense stays on your record. Though it seems like a good alternative, the 251 disposition program may not be the best course for all first-time offenders.
If you are “251 eligible” you can still fight your case by going to trial, forcing the officer to testify, and grilling him under cross-examination to show the court that he made errors in his investigation. Even if you are found guilty you can still get the 251 disposition.
So, in many cases, you have nothing to lose by fighting your charge.
Best of all, if you win your case you can have the charge expunged from your record. Expungement is not possible if you plead guilty and accept a 251 disposition.
First-time offenders should talk to a lawyer before agreeing to 251 disposition
In many cases, attorney Eric Clingan advises that first-time possession cases should go to trial instead of pleading guilty since the 251 disposition will still be available even if the court finds against you. With an aggressive and knowledgeable drug-charge defense attorney, you may be able to avoid the stigma of having a conviction on your record.
Going to trial gives you the opportunity to keep your record clean. Most of the time you have nothing to lose by going to trial. Most Virginia judges still provide the 251 disposition option even if you lose your case at trial.
Before you agree to a 251 disposition program, contact an experienced Virginia drug-charge defense lawyer.
Contact the NoVa Law Firm today for a free consultation about your drug charges
Located in Fairfax, Virginia, The NoVa Law Firm provides their Northern Virginia clients with experienced, knowledgeable counsel. Your best choice is to contact attorney Eric Clingan at The NoVa Law Firm. We help protect your rights and find the right options to help get charges dismissed and keep your record clean. Call (703) 352-9347 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.