Virginia Drug Lawyer
Criminal drug charges in the state of Virginia result in either felony or misdemeanor penalties upon conviction, depending on several factors. These factors include the type and quantity of controlled substances involved, as well as whether the defendant is accused of possessing the drugs for personal use, distribution or sale. Evidence and circumstances surrounding controlled substance crimes are often highly subjective and open to interpretation. For this reason and many others, our experienced Virginia drug defense attorneys are here to assist you with every aspect of your case.
With the help of a skilled drug defense lawyer in Virginia, you’ll have the best possible chance of having the charges against you reduced or even dropped entirely. Our Virginia drug lawyers have extensive experience fighting controlled substance charges, utilizing an in-depth knowledge of Virginia’s drug laws and successful defenses. Please visit our DC or Maryland page if you need drug-related representation in either of those states.
Marijuana Possession Crimes in Virginia
According to Virginia criminal code § 18.2-250.1, it is illegal to possess marijuana knowingly, intentionally and without a prescription from a licensed medical doctor. However, prosecutors cannot establish a crime of marijuana possession simply on the basis that an individual owns or occupies a vehicle or building in which marijuana is discovered by authorities.
This same code establishes the penalty for marijuana possession in Virginia: a misdemeanor, along with up to $500 in fines and no more than 30 days of incarceration. For people who violate this law a second time, the penalty is elevated to a Class 1 misdemeanor, along with up to a year of incarceration and $2,500 in penalties.
Penalties Increased for Marijuana Sale/Cultivation Crimes
According to code § 18.2-248.1, penalties are stiffer for individuals who cultivate marijuana, or who possess it with intention to sell and/or distribute. The penalties depend on the weight of the marijuana. For example, for individuals found guilty of manufacturing marijuana more than 5 pounds of marijuana, the penalty is a felony, up to $10,000 in fiscal penalties and between 5 and 30 years of incarceration.
For marijuana sale and distribution crimes involving between 0.5 ounces and 5 pounds of marijuana, violators are subject to a Class 5 felony, no more than 10 years incarceration and $2,500 in fines. The prison sentence is extended to between 5 and 30 years for crimes involving greater than 5 pounds of marijuana.
A Class 1 misdemeanor penalty is reserved for sale and distribution crimes involving under 0.5 ounces of marijuana. Associated penalties include up to $2,500 in fines and 1 year in jail. Regardless of the specific violations, individuals who violate code § 18.2-248.1 three times are subject to between 5 years and life in prison, along with a maximum fine of $500,000.
Controlled Substance Possession Crimes in Virginia
Virginia criminal code § 18.2-250 covers laws pertaining to controlled substances aside from marijuana. This code prohibits citizens from possessing any controlled substance without a prescription from an authorized health care provider. As with Virginia’s marijuana laws, possession charges cannot be established against the owner of a dwelling or automobile solely on the basis of finding a controlled substance within it. In addition, law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties are exempt from this code.
This code also dictates the penalties for crimes of drug possession in Virginia. The penalties vary according to the type of drug found in an individual’s possession, a topic that can further elaborated by one of our skilled Virginia drug lawyers. For Schedule I and II controlled substances, violators are subject to a Class 5 felony, which includes up to $2,500 in fines and 10 years incarceration. For Schedule III drugs, the penalty is lowered from a felony to a Class 1 misdemeanor. Although this penalty still carries up to $2,500 in fines, the jail term is reduced to a maximum of 1 year. The penalty is further lowered to a Class 2 misdemeanor for Schedule IV drugs, along with a $1,000 maximum fine and up to 180 days in jail.
Possession violations involving Schedule V drugs result in a Class 3 misdemeanor, plus up to $500 in fines. Finally, the penalty for Schedule VI drug possession crimes is a Class 4 misdemeanor, carrying no more than a $250 fine.
Controlled Substance Distribution and Manufacture in Virginia
As with in all other states in the U.S., alleged crimes of drug distribution, sale and manufacturing are treated more seriously in Virginia than crimes of simple controlled substance possession. According to Virginia criminal code § 18.2-248, it is illegal to give, sell, distribute, cultivate or manufacture a controlled substance. This same code makes it equally illegal to possess such a large quantity of a drug that law enforcement deems that you intend to sell or otherwise distribute it, as opposed to possessing it exclusively for personal use.
The stiffest penalties under this code are reserved for individuals found in possession of more than 100 grams of heroin (or heroin mixture), 10 grams of methamphetamine (or 20 grams of methamphetamine mixture), or 500 grams of cocaine (or cocaine mixture). Individuals found guilty of violating this crime are subject to a felony, incarceration for between 5 years and life, and no more than $1 million in fines. In these specific crimes, a five-year prison sentence is the mandatory minimum, during which parole is not granted under any circumstances.
Penalties vary for lesser quantities, depending on the specific drug found by law enforcement to be manufactured, distributed or possessed with intent to do the same. For Schedule I and II drugs, penalties range from 5 to 40 years incarceration, a fine not exceeding $500,000, and of course, a felony reflected on the offender’s permanent record. The penalty is the same for second-time offenders, except that the maximum prison sentence is life instead of 40 years. The penalty remains the same for third-time offenders as well, with the exception that 5 years in prison is regarded as an absolute mandatory minimum.
For Schedule III drugs, the penalty is reduced to 10 years in prison and fines not to exceed $2,500, penalties classified as a Class 5 felony. Other penalties for drug manufacture and distribution crimes are listed below:
- Schedule IV controlled substances – Class 6 felony, 5 years prison, $2,500 fine
- Schedule V controlled substances – Class 1 misdemeanor, 1 year in jail, $2,500 fine
- Schedule VI controlled substances – Class 1 misdemeanor, 1 year in jail, $2,500 fine
Laws Pertaining to Drug Testing in Virginia
According to criminal code § 18.2-251.4, it is illegal in Virginia to purposefully and deceitfully defeat a drug and/or alcohol screening test. This code further prohibits selling, giving away, distributing, transporting or marketing “clean” human urine intended to allow yourself or another person to pass a drug/alcohol screening test.
This code also stipulates that individuals may not use a substitution product to deceptively defeat a drug test. Citizens of Virginia are also prohibited from modifying or tainting a urine sample in order to defeat a drug/alcohol screening test.
Individuals who violate this code are subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor, up to $2,500 in fines and up to a year of incarceration. Interpretations of this law are often quite subjective, and establishment of guilt typically requires strong scientific evidence. Our seasoned Virginia criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience fighting these types of charges.