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Classification of Illegal Drugs in Virginia

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In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is a clearly defined system for the classification of illegal drugs. Furthermore, the penalties for possession of illegal drugs fluctuate based on the established classification system. The following sections will provide an overview of the illegal drug classification system and the penalties for illegal possession.

How Does Virginia Classify Illegal Drugs?

Referred to legally as controlled substances, Virginia divides illegal drugs and similar compounds into separate schedules. Virginia assigned a controlled substance to each schedule based on the potential for abuse or dependence and accepted medical use.

Please find below a breakdown of key characteristics of five of Virginia’s controlled substance schedules.

  • Schedule I covers controlled substances that have a high potential for abuse and a lack of accepted medical use, including opiates, LSD, and similar compounds;
  • Schedule II covers controlled substances that have a high potential for abuse or dependence and limited medical use, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and similar compounds;
  • Schedule III covers controlled substances that have a moderate potential for abuse or dependence and accepted medical use, including codeine, steroids, and similar compounds;
  • Schedule IV covers controlled substances that have a low potential for abuse or dependence and accepted medical use, including Valium, Xanax, and similar compounds; and
  • Schedule V covers controlled substances that have a low potential for abuse or dependence and accepted medical use, including commonly available cough medicines, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, and similar compounds.

How Does Virginia Penalize Illegal Possession?

As outlined in Code of Virginia 18.2-250, it is a crime to possess a controlled substance in Virginia. There is an exception for people who have a valid prescription for a controlled substance. But otherwise, Virginia law prohibits possession of illegal drugs and similar compounds.

Please find below a breakdown of the penalty structure for illegal possession of a controlled substance in Virginia.

  • Possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance is a Class 5 felony in Virginia. Conviction may result in one to 10 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.
  • Possession of a Schedule III controlled substance is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. Conviction may result in 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.
  • Possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Virginia. Conviction may result in six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
  • Possession of a Schedule V controlled substance is a Class 3 misdemeanor in Virginia. Conviction may result in $500 in fines.

In certain cases, possession of a large amount of a controlled substance can constitute possession with intent to distribute. A conviction for possession with intent to distribute will result in much more severe penalties than simple possession.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you are facing criminal charges in Virginia for drug possession or distribution, it is extremely helpful to retain the services of a trustworthy criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP, servicing Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Manassas, help clients with criminal defense across Virginia, including drug possession and distribution charges. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Resource:

law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-250/

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