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Differences Between Illegal Drug Possession and Sale or Distribution in Virginia

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This blog post will detail the differences between the crimes of illegal drug possession and sale or distribution in Virginia. Often referred to legally as controlled substances, there are many laws in Virginia concerning illegal drugs. To gain an appreciation of this issue, the following sections will outline key definitions and penalties for the crimes of drug possession and drug sale or distribution.

Definition of Drug Possession in Virginia

As detailed in Code of Virginia 18.2-250, it is unlawful to possess a controlled substance in the absence a valid prescription. It is important to note that Virginia employs a knowledge requirement for the crime of drug possession. The offender must knowingly and intentionally possess a controlled substance. If the offender does not know — or have reason to know — that they possess a controlled substance, then the crime of possession does not apply.

Penalties for Drug Possession in Virginia

Code of Virginia 18.2-248 outlines the penalties for the crime of drug possession. On a larger level, the penalties change based on the type of controlled substance involved.

  • Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance can be a Class 5 felony. The potential penalties include up to 10 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.
  • Possession of marijuana can be a misdemeanor crime. The first offense carries a potential penalty of 30 days in jail and $500 in fines. The second offense carries a potential penalty of 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

Definition of Drug Sale or Distribution in Virginia

As outlined in Code of Virginia 54.1-3401, it is unlawful to sell or otherwise distribute a controlled substance. Whether or not the offender receives financial compensation, it is against the law to provide access to controlled substances.

That being said, there are certain exceptions for medical use and research. In those instances, the seller or distributor must have valid authorization and paperwork to sell or distribute controlled substances.

Penalties for Drug Sale or Distribution in Virginia

Code of Virginia 18.2-248 outlines the penalties for the crime of drug sale or distribution. On a larger level, the penalties change based on the type of controlled substance involved.

  • Possession with intent to sell or distribute a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance can be a felony crime. The potential penalties include up to 40 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
  • Possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana can be a felony or misdemeanor crime. For amounts less than one-half ounce, it is a misdemeanor punishable by 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines. For amounts between one-half ounce and five pounds, it is a felony crime punishable by 10 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you are facing charges for drug possession, sale, distribution or manufacture in Virginia, it is highly beneficial to speak with an accomplished criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP, servicing Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Manassas, can help you fight charges for drug crimes and other criminal offenses. 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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