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SIMMS SHOWERS LLP Leesburg & Loudoun County Attorney
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Virginia Drug Crimes: Common Nuisances & Fortified Drug Houses

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When discussing drug crimes under Virginia law, the conversation tends to revolve around possession, distribution, or trafficking. These crimes typically make the news headlines and, thus, dominate much of the attention. But the Virginia laws against various drug crimes go far beyond possession, distribution, or trafficking offenses.

For example, it is a Virginia drug crime to operate or maintain a property in a way that represents a common nuisance or a fortified drug house, though, as explained in more detail below, there are multifaceted requirements for these property-based drug crimes.

Common Nuisances

The laws against maintaining a common nuisance appear at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-258. Under this section, it is unlawful for any property owner, tenant, or an agent thereof to knowingly allow their property to be:

  • Frequented by people under the influence of illegally obtained controlled substances or cannabis;
  • Used for the purpose of illegally obtaining controlled substances or cannabis; or
  • Utilized for the purpose of illegally possessing, manufacturing, or distributing controlled substances or cannabis.

Section 18.2-258 can apply to any:

  • Apartment;
  • Office;
  • Store;
  • Shop;
  • Restaurant;
  • Dance hall;
  • Theater;
  • Poolroom;
  • Clubhouse;
  • Storehouse;
  • Warehouse;
  • Dwelling house;
  • Vehicle;
  • Vessel;
  • Boat;
  • Aircraft; or
  • Building or structure of any kind.

Any person who knowingly permits, establishes, keeps, or maintains such a common nuisance can face the criminal charges outlined below:

  • First Offense — Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of 12 months in jail and $2,500 in criminal fines; or
  • Second or Subsequent Offense — Class 6 felony punishable by one to five years in prison and up to $2,500 in criminal fines.

Fortified Drug Houses

The laws against maintaining a fortified drug house appear at Code of Virginia Section 18.2-258.02. If a building or structure is the object of a valid search warrant, it is unlawful to:

  • Alter or reinforce any building or structure from its original status with the intent to deter, delay, or impede lawful entry by law enforcement; and
  • Use the building or structure for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing any controlled substance or cannabis.

Section 18.2-258.02 can apply to any:

  • Apartment;
  • Office;
  • Store;
  • Shop;
  • Restaurant;
  • Dance hall;
  • Theater;
  • Poolroom;
  • Clubhouse;
  • Storehouse;
  • Warehouse;
  • Dwelling house; or
  • Building or structure of any kind.

Any building or structure that violates the rules above is considered a fortified drug house under Section 18.2-258.02.

Any person who maintains or operates a fortified drug house can face Class 5 felony charges. Upon conviction, the punishment can include one to 10 years in prison and up to $2,500 in criminal fines.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about drug crimes or other offenses in Virginia, it can be highly productive to schedule a consultation with an adept Leesburg drug crimes lawyer. With more than 140 years of combined legal experience, the lawyers at Simms Showers LLP possess the skill and knowledge to help fight back against many types of criminal charges, including drug crimes. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

SOURCES:

law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-258/

law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title18.2/chapter7/section18.2-258.02/

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