How Does Virginia Define & Punish Marijuana Drug Crimes?
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are laws against a variety of drug crimes. There are essentially two types of marijuana drug crimes in Virginia: possession and distribution. Marijuana possession is a lower-level offense, typically punishable by a simple fine. On the other, marijuana distribution can lead to more serious charges and the definite possibility of confinement.
What are the Virginia Laws Against Possession of Marijuana?
The state laws against possession of marijuana appear at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-250.1. Under this section, it is unlawful to knowingly or intentionally possess marijuana. There is, though, an exception for medical use with a valid prescription.
The knowledge requirement is significant in this setting. A person must know — or be reasonably expected to know — that they are in possession of marijuana. The mere fact that someone owns or occupies the location where marijuana is present does not suffice.
The punishment for unlawful possession of marijuana, in violation of Section 18.2-250.1, is a civil offense. If the amount in possession is less than one ounce, the maximum penalty is a $25 fine, which is deposited into the Drug Offender Assessment and Treatment Fund.
What are the Virginia Laws Against Distribution of Marijuana?
The state laws against distribution of marijuana appear at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-248.1. Under this section, it is illegal to distribute, sell, or give away marijuana. It is also unlawful to possess marijuana with the intent to distribute, sell, or give away. Possession with intent crimes only apply if there is at least one ounce in question.
The punishment for unlawful possession of marijuana in violation of Section 18.2-248.1 varies based on the amount of marijuana in the commission of the crime. For example, distribution or possession with intent to distribute involving:
- At least one ounce of marijuana — Results in Class 1 misdemeanor charges. If convicted, an offender can face a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail and $2,500 in criminal fines.
- Between one ounce and five pounds of marijuana — Results in Class 5 felony charges. If convicted, an offender can face one to 10 years in prison and up to $2,500 in criminal fines.
- More than five pounds of marijuana — Results in felony charges. If convicted, an offender can face five to 30 years in prison as well as criminal fines.
That being said, Section 18.2-248.1 establishes a separate punishment for certain repeat offenders. If a person violates this section three or more times, the offense remains a felony crime. Correspondingly, the penalty increases to a prison sentence of five years to life and criminal fines up to $500,000.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with charges for marijuana possession or distribution or other drug crimes under the Virginia Criminal Code, we can help. The Leesburg criminal lawyers at Simms Showers LLP are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.