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Is It A Virginia Drug Crime To Distribute Imitation Controlled Substances?


Distribution drug crimes in Virginia normally involve dangerous controlled substances. These controlled substances are broken down into categories — referred to legally as schedules — based on likelihood of abuse and any recognized medical use. The most dangerous substances appear in Schedules I and II, such as heroin, cocaine, and meth.

In addition to prohibiting the distribution of actual controlled substances, the Virginia Criminal Code also makes it unlawful to distribute substances that mimic or imitate these illegal drugs. It is a criminal offense to distribute or attempt to distribute imitation controlled substances under Virginia law.

What is the Virginia Definition of an Imitation Controlled Substance?

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-247 establishes the definition of an imitation controlled substance. Under this section, an imitation controlled substance usually refers to any pill, tablet, or substance in any form that is not a controlled substance but:

  • The overall dosage unit appearance — which includes color, shape, size, marks, and packaging — causes a likelihood of confusion with an actual controlled substance; or
  • By express or implied representation, acts like a controlled substance as a stimulant or depressant that is not recognized for medical use.

What are the Virginia Laws Against Distributing Imitation Controlled Substances?

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-248 provides the laws against distributing imitation controlled substances. Under this section, it is unlawful for any person to:

  • Distribute, manufacture, sell, or give any imitation controlled substance; or
  • Possess any imitation controlled substance with the intent to distribute, manufacture, sell, or give.

In the context of these offenses, the Virginia courts may consider whether the distribution — or attempted distribution — of an imitation controlled substance occurred in exchange for money or similar consideration. Furthermore, the courts may consider whether such consideration was substantially greater than the reasonable value of the substance in question.

How Does Virginia Punish Distributing Imitation Controlled Substances?

Section also details the punishment for distributing an imitation controlled substance in Virginia. Under this section, distribution of an imitation controlled substance is a criminal offense. But the nature of the imitation controlled substance can change the corresponding punishment.

For imitation controlled substances that mimic Schedule I, II, III, or IV controlled substances, distribution crimes are usually charged as Class 6 felonies. If convicted for a Class 6 felony in Virginia, the punishment can include a prison sentence between one and five years as well as criminal fines up to $2,500.

For imitation controlled substances that mimic Schedule V or VI controlled substances, distribution crimes are usually charged as Class 1 misdemeanors. If convicted for a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, the punishment can include a maximum jail sentence of 12 months as well as criminal fines up to $2,500.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you need legal assistance with charges for drug crimes or other offenses under Virginia law, the Leesburg drug crimes lawyers at Simms Showers LLP can help. Reach out to us today for a consultation.

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Contact the Leesburg, Winchester & Loudoun County Attorneys of Simms Showers LLP today

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