Overview Of The Virginia Drug Crime Of Heroin Distribution
The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes the danger of illegal drugs and other controlled substances, so it features strict laws against numerous types of drug crimes. Within this arena, distribution crimes involving Schedule I controlled substances like heroin have particularly stringent penalties upon conviction. Furthermore, the same penalties can apply to possession, if the offender indicates an intent to distribute.
Virginia Laws Against Heroin Distribution Crimes
The laws against heroin distribution crimes appear under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-248. This section makes it unlawful to knowingly distribute, sell, manufacture, or give away any controlled substance. This includes heroin, which is classified as a controlled substance under Schedule I.
In addition to the crime discussed above, Section 18.2-248 also makes it illegal to possess heroin with an intent to distribute, sell, manufacture, or give away. Ultimately, it does not matter if a person distributes heroin or merely possesses heroin with an intent to distribute. Both offenses are treated and punished in the same way.
Virginia Penalties for Heroin Distribution Crimes
A tiered system of penalties for heroin distribution crimes exists under Section 18.2-248. At a minimum, the penalties for distributing heroin or possessing heroin with an intent to distribute are as follows:
- First Violation — Felony offense with the possibility of imprisonment for five to 40 years and up to $500,000 in criminal fines;
- Second Violation — Felony offense with the possibility of imprisonment for five years to life and up to $500,000 in criminal fines; or
- Third or Subsequent Violation — Felony offense with the possibility of imprisonment for 10 years to life and up to $500,000 in criminal fines.
Section 18.2-248 also establishes separate penalties for offenses involving larger quantities of heroin. Any person who commits a heroin distribution crime in possession of:
- 100 grams or more — Can face imprisonment for five years to life and up to $1,000,000 in criminal fines; or
- 1 kilogram or more — Can face imprisonment for 20 years to life and up to $1,000,000 in criminal fines.
It is worth underlining that Section 18.2-248 creates several exceptions to the minimum prison sentences listed above. It is possible to obtain a shorter prison sentence, if the offender cooperates with the prosecution and:
- Does not have a prior conviction for specific crimes;
- Did not use violence or the threat of violence in the commission of the offense;
- Did not inflict physical injury or death to a victim; and
- Was not participating in a continuing criminal enterprise.
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