Virginia Drug Offenses
In Virginia, drug offenses generally involve Drug Possession, Drug Manufacturing, Drug Distribution, or Drug Possession with the Intent to Manufacture or Distribute. Without question, Virginia’s alleged drug offenders face potentially harsh penalties. Contrary to what many people may think, merely possessing certain drugs is a felony.
Given the potentially devastating and life altering penalties, you need a savvy, experienced, and tireless Criminal Defense Attorney on your side. The Wilson Law Firm attorneys have successfully defended thousands of clients in Virginia facing various charges including Possession of Drugs, Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID), Drug Distribution and Sale, and Drug Manufacturing. To protect your rights and your freedom, call The Wilson Law Firm: 877-CRIM-LWYR or 703-361-6100.
What is a Controlled Substance?
In Virginia, a controlled substance is a drug or substance listed in the Virginia Drug Control Act. Generally, controlled substances are classified into one of six (6) different schedules according to their potential for abuse, harm, and medical use. Schedule I and II offenses are felonies. Although the possession, manufacturing, distribution, etc. of marijuana is controlled by Virginia law, marijuana does not fall under the definition of a controlled substance in Virginia and there are separate statutes criminalizing these marijuana offenses.
Schedule I: (See Va. Code §54.1-3446)
Substances with a high potential for abuse and no safely accepted medical use. Common Schedule I substances include Heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
Schedule II: (See Va. Code §54.1-3448)
Substances with a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychic or physical dependence, but have currently accepted medical use in U. S. or medical use with severe restrictions. Some Schedule II examples include cocaine, methamphetamine (“crystal meth”), methadone, PCP, Ritalin, and Percocet.
Schedule III: (See Va. Code §54.1-3450)
Substances with less potential for abuse than Schedule I or II substances, which abuse may still lead to moderate to low physical dependence or high psychological dependence, but have currently accepted use in treatment in the U.S. Schedule III examples include Ketamine (“Special K”), Vicodin, and Steroids.
Schedule IV: (See Va. Code §54.1-3452)
Substances with an even lower potential for abuse and limited physical or psychological dependence than Schedule III substances, but have currently accepted use in treatment in the U.S. Schedule IV substances include many prescription drugs such as Klonopin, Xanax, and Ambien.
Schedule V: (See Va. Code §54.1-3454)
These are the least likely substances to be abused and offer a legitimate medical purpose. Schedule V substances often involve mixtures such as a Codeine mixed cough medicine.
Schedule VI: (See Va. Code §54.1-3455)
Any controlled substances that do not fall into Schedules I-V.
Possession of Controlled Substances (See Va. Code §18.2-250)
The potential penalties for possession of controlled substances vary depending upon the classification or schedule of the substances. Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance is a felony and carries the stiffest penalty. On the other hand, possession of any Schedule III through Schedule VI controlled substance will be charged as a misdemeanor. For any possession charge, the penalty also includes a 6 month loss of license with the possibility to request a restricted operator’s license.
Possession of Marijuana (See Va. Code §18.2-250.1)
As previously mentioned, laws regulating Marijuana are separate and distinct from laws regulating controlled substances. A first offense Marijuana charge is an unclassified misdemeanor with a maximum 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. A second or subsequent marijuana charge may be punished up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. As with controlled substances, with all Marijuana offenses there is the same 6 month loss of license.
Possession of Synthetic “Marijuana” (See Va. Code §18.2-248.1:1)
Possession of synthetic marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable up to one year in jail, up to a $2,500 fine, and a 6 month loss of license.
Possession - First Offenders (See Va. Code §18.2-251)
Under certain circumstances involving misdemeanor or felony charges for possession of a controlled substance, marijuana or synthetic marijuana, Virginia law allows for some accused, with no prior drug offenses, to request first offender treatment. Although a possibility, you should not simply expect that first offender treatment will be automatically granted. If persuaded that this is an appropriate disposition, the Court, without entering a judgment, may place the accused on probation for a period of time with certain conditions such as remaining alcohol and drug free, completing drug education or treatment, performing community service, etc., and if the accused successfully completes the probationary period and complies fully with all of the Court’s conditions, the Court may then dismiss the possession charge. The first offender proceeding also includes a 6 month loss of license with a possibility to request a restricted operator’s license. Much like the participation in the first offender program itself, you should not expect that a restricted operator’s license will automatically be granted. If the accused fails to successfully complete the program, the accused will be found guilty and sentenced by the court.
Possession of Controlled Substances with Intent to Manufacture or Distribute
This statute is most commonly seen involving possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell, give or distribute (PWID), but it also covers possession with intent to manufacture. Often times, PWID charges are based on circumstantial evidence such as packaging, quantity of the substances, cash, guns, drug making paraphernalia, cutting agents not associated with drug use, recent use in presence of the accused, an absence of use by the accused, etc.
PWID may be either a misdemeanor or felony charge depending upon the classification of the controlled substance involved. Offenses involving a Schedule I or II controlled substances are extremely serious felonies punishable with lengthy imprisonment and massive fines. A second offense felony is punishable up to life imprisonment. Depending upon the circumstances, some first offense felony charges may be punishable up to life imprisonment and carry a monumental fine.
Selling, Manufacturing, Giving or Distributing Controlled Substances
Manufacturing, giving, selling or distributing controlled substances or imitation controlled substances is punished the same as the possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell, give or distribute (PWID). As with PWID, the actual manufacturing, giving, selling, or distributing of controlled substances may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending upon the classification of the controlled substance involved. Offenses involving a Schedule I or II controlled substances are extremely serious felonies punishable with lengthy imprisonment and massive fines. A second offense felony is punishable up to life imprisonment. Depending upon the circumstances, some first offense felony charges may be punishable up to life imprisonment and carry a monumental fine.
Marijuana – PWID, Selling, Manufacturing or Distributing
Marijuana PWID, Giving, Selling, or Distributing may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony with varying potential incarceration depending upon the amount of marijuana. Marijuana manufacturing or possessing marijuana with the intent to manufacture is always a felony with significant potential imprisonment and fine.
Distribution to Minors by Adults (See Va. Code §18.2-255)
Distribution of Schedule I-IV drugs, synthetic marijuana, or marijuana to persons under 18 years of age, by an accused at least 3 years older, is a felony with differing mandatory minimum jail time depending upon the amount and type of drug involved.
Possession with the intent to distribute, or manufacturing, selling, giving, or distributing, controlled substances, imitation controlled substances, synthetic marijuana or marijuana on or within 1,000 feet of public or private schools, libraries and other certain facilities is a separate and distinct felony from the crime itself.
Selling or possessing with intent to sell drug paraphernalia is a Class 1misdemeanor.
Possession or distribution of items defined as “controlled paraphernalia” under Virginia’s Drug Control Act is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
Inhaling Drugs or Noxious Chemicals (“Huffing”) (See Va. Code §18.2-264)
Deliberately inhaling any drugs or noxious chemicals such as fingernail polish or model airplane glue with the intent to become intoxicated, inebriated, excited or stupefied is a misdemeanor.