If you're not happy with the way your appointed attorney is handling your case, then you definitely should consider hiring another attorney in your area to help you with this matter.
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In Virginia, residue is considered enough to prove possession. You voluntarily gave a confession. Beating the charge with those facts is not going to be easy. In the future, you should know this now, never under any circumstances talk to the police. As you have discovered, nothing good comes from it.
You are correct that a paraphernalia charge does not carry the same punishments as a possession charge (i.e., mandatory drug counseling and license suspension). However, it you have a clean record now, you want to think long and hard about accepting a conviction of any kind. I have lost count of how many 30, 40 and 50 year old people call me on a weekly basis asking how they can get that old misdemeanor charge off of their record because they can't get a job now. Well, I can't. There is no way to expunge a criminal conviction; it's a permanent record for life.
You should speak to a criminal lawyer in your area about the circumstances.
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A guilty plea to Paraph. is usually offered to first time offenders who don't want to go through the 251 diversion program. If you were to take advantage of the 251 diversion you would be able to avoid a conviction on your record. In the long term this would be good.
Court-appointed attorneys and public defenders (they are not the same thing) are usually hard-working attorneys who care about helping people, often at great personal sacrifice. The bad reputation they can get really bothers me and sometimes seems like a way to pass the buck of personal responsibility. That said, it doesn't mean all those lawyers are talented or hardworking, but most are. I've been both. You won't know until you actually talk to that person whether you trust them and their ability. To be honest, if this is your first offense, you're almost lucky to have one appointed to help analyze the case, as the chances you'll actually go to jail are slim to none and you now have the benefit of professional eyes on your case, unless you know a lot about constitutional law and how to attack things like marijuana field tests. (To explain, you only get a lawyer appointed to you if the state isn't giving up its right to ASK for jail, it doesn't mean you'll get it). Moving on to your actual case, there are many advantages to a residue-only marijuana case, and myriad ways to attack a drug case anyway: your detention, your statements, the testing of the substance, constructive possession, etc. They can be a playground for a lawyer. I can't say which of these things apply to you without knowing more about your case, however, which again, is why you should talk to your lawyer. Also, alternative dispositions can be explored in negotiation with the state. Go talk to your court-appointed lawyer with an open mind. If you actually can afford a lawyer, you should retain one, though, as public defenders and court-appointed attorneys are for people who are poor (indigent). With regards to whether you should "take what you get," your lawyer will help you decide whether to plead or go to trial - but that ultimate decision is yours. Good luck.