A new commonwealth’s attorney (sometimes called a district attorney or prosecutor) for the County of Fairfax was elected in November, and took office in January. Steve Descano ran for office partially on a platform that he would not prosecute simple possession of marijuana cases. Since taking office at the beginning of January, his office has attempted to implement that policy, by requesting that the judges in Fairfax who are presiding over the marijuana cases permit the commonwealth’s attorney’s office to nolle prosequi, or drop, these cases. However, as of this writing, the judges have not been allowing the prosecutor’s office to summarily drop all marijuana cases. This has surprised some defendants. Some of these people have told the judges that they were informed that they didn’t need lawyers because all marijuana cases in Fairfax were being dropped. The reality is that, while some cases have been successfully dropped, the judges are asking the prosecutors to recite their reasons for dropping the charges in each case and, in many cases, if the judge deems that the commonwealth has clear evidence for a conviction, he or she is not allowing the case to be dropped. When this happens, the cases are usually continued to a date later in the year. It may be that the judges and prosecutors are hoping that the legislature will de-criminalize possession of marijuana cases, but this remains to be seen.
The take-away from this is that, so far, it is not automatic that if you have a possession of marijuana charge in Fairfax County your case will be automatically dropped. Hiring an attorney at Whitestone Young to represent you on a charge of possession of marijuana may save you time, effort, and confusion about the ultimate outcome. Further, our attorneys can advise you whether our services will increase the likelihood that your case will be dropped, or whether your case should be continued, or go to trial. If the time comes when all marijuana cases are being automatically dropped, we will inform potential clients of this development. However, this has not happened, and smart defendants are still hiring the services of attorneys at Whitestone Young who practice in the Fairfax County courts every day and are knowledgeable and up-to-date about the situation here.