Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substances Under Virginia Law
The Commonwealth of Virginia has laws against various drug crimes in the interest of public health and safety. One of the most common crimes in this domain involves unlawful possession of illegal drugs, which are referred to legally as controlled substances. Depending on the type of substance in question, unlawful possession charges can result in prison time and costly criminal fines.
What is Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substances?
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-250 makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance. In this context, the knowledge condition is extremely important.
Only intention and knowing possession is a violation of Virginia law. If a person does not know — or have any reason to know — that they are in possession of a controlled substance, it does not qualify as a violation of Section 18.2-250.
What are the Penalties for Unlawful Possession?
Section 18.2-250 also establishes the penalties for unlawful possession of controlled substances. The class and level of criminal charges fluctuates based on the following schedules:
- Schedule I — Includes heroin, LSD, and peyote;
- Schedule II — Includes cocaine, codeine, and opium;
- Schedule III — Includes ketamine and steroids;
- Schedule IV — Includes barbital and clonazepam;
- Schedule V — Includes pyrovalerone and briviact; and
- Schedule VI — Includes pharmaceuticals and medications prescribed for the named patient’s use only.
Under Section 18.2-250, unlawful possession of a controlled substance classified in:
- Schedule I/II — Is a Class 5 felony, which can lead to imprisonment for one to 10 years and criminal fines up to $2,500;
- Schedule III — Is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can lead to confinement in county jail for 12 months and criminal fines up to $2,500;
- Schedule IV — Is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which can lead to confinement in county jail for six months and criminal fines up to $1,000;
- Schedule V — Is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which can lead to criminal fines up to $500; and
- Schedule VI — Is a Class 4 misdemeanor, which can lead to criminal fines up to $250.
Is it Possible to Possess Controlled Substances Lawfully?
Section 18.2-250 does provide several exceptions for lawful possession of controlled substances. On one hand, there is an exception for medical use. Patients are allowed to possess and use certain controlled substances. But only if they have a valid prescription from a licensed medical doctor.
On the other hand, there is an exception for police, correctional, and other law enforcement officers. These officers are allowed to possess controlled substances when necessary to perform their official duties.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal help with Virginia charges for a drug crime, it can be highly effective to speak with a proficient criminal defense lawyer. The Leesburg drug crimes lawyers at Simms Showers LLP feature demonstrated proficiencies in the field of criminal defense, including unlawful possession and other drug crimes. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.