How Does Virginia Penalize Drug Dealing on Public Property?
In the interest of public health and safety, the Commonwealth of Virginia treats all drug crimes with the utmost seriousness. In addition to the standard laws against drug possession or distribution, Virginia also features distinct regulations for certain drug crimes committed on or around public property.
What are the Virginia Laws Against Drug Dealing on Public Property?
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-255.2 establishes the laws against drug dealing on public property. This section applies to all illegal drugs, including marijuana and imitation substances. Specifically, Section 18.2-255.2 applies to the following criminal offenses:
- Manufacture, sale, or distribution of illegal drugs; and
- Possession of illegal drugs with intent to sell, give, or distribute.
Section 18.2-255.2 institutes special penalties for any person who commits either of these crimes at or on:
- Buildings or grounds of academic institutions, including public or private elementary, secondary, and higher-level schools;
- Buildings or grounds of day care centers that are licensed to provide services to children;
- Publicly accessible property within 1,000 feet of a school or day care center;
- School buses in standard colors and with normal warning devices;
- School Bus Stops, during passenger pick-up and drop-off periods;
- Publicly accessible property within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop;
- Recreation facilities, community centers, or libraries, if publicly owner or operated; or
- Publicly accessible property within 1,000 feet of a public recreation facility, community center, or library.
If a person possesses illegal drugs at any of the locations described above, it qualifies as a violation of Section 18.2-255.2. This is true even if that person intended to sell, give, or distribute the illegal drugs at a different location.
What are the Virginia Penalties for Drug Dealing on Public Property?
The penalties for committing a drug crime at or near public property also appear under Section 18.2-255.2. In most cases, this section classifies a violation as a felony crime. If convicted, the offender can face a maximum of five years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation — if it involves at least one half ounce of marijuana or any illegal drug in Schedule I, II, or III — will still face felony charges and the maximum penalties described previously. Though these offenders also face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of one year.
That being said, there is an exception to these punishment schemes. This exception applies when a person distributed illegal drugs on public property merely as a medical accommodation for someone else. If such a person did not receive any monetary consideration in the exchange, they are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor instead of a felony. At that level, a conviction can result in a 12-month jail sentences and fines up to $2,500.
Reach Out to Us Today for Assistance
If you need legal help with criminal charges for a drug crime in Virginia, it can be extremely helpful to consult with a trusted Leesburg drug crimes lawyer. The lawyers at Simms Showers LLP have earned the trust of countless clients in various matters of criminal defense, including drug crimes. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.