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Virginia Drug Crimes: Possession vs. Possession with Intent

DrugCrime4

Across the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is a drug crime to possess a controlled substance. It is also illegal to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Despite the apparent similarities between these offenses, they are actually punishable as separate crimes.

It is important to note that Virginia has separate laws for marijuana. The following crimes involve possession of other controlled substances, like heroin or cocaine. Virginia law has separate schedules for these substances based on their potential for abuse and medical use, if any.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-250 makes it unlawful to possess any controlled substance, including illegal drugs. Though there is an exception for medical use with a valid prescription.

Any person who violates Section 18.2-250 by unlawfully possessing a:

  • Schedule I/II Controlled Substance — Will face Class 5 felony charges, which are punishable by one to 10 years in prison and fines up to $2,500;
  • Schedule III Controlled Substance — Will face in Class 1 misdemeanor charges, which are punishable by 12 months in county jail and fines up to $2,500;
  • Schedule IV Controlled Substance — Will face in Class 2 misdemeanor charges, which are punishable by six months in county jail and fines up to $1,000;
  • Schedule V Controlled Substance — Will face in Class 3 misdemeanor charges, which are punishable by a maximum fine of $500; or
  • Schedule VI Controlled Substance — Will face in Class 4 misdemeanor charges, which are punishable by a maximum fine of $250.

Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute

Code of Virginia Section 18.2-248 makes it illegal to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute. The intent to distribute can be inferred based on various circumstances. Generally speaking, possession of a controlled substance in large quantities can infer an intent to distribute.

On a related note, possession with intent to distribute is punishable in the same way as actual distribution crimes. It does not matter if the intended or attempted distribution was successful. The offender will face the same punishment either way.

That being said, the punishment for possession with intent to distribute can change based on the type and quantity of the substance in question. Using Schedule I/II substances as an example — which include heroin and cocaine — possession with intent to distribute is usually punishable as follows:

  • First Conviction — Imprisonment for a period of five to 40 years and fines up to $500,000;
  • Second Conviction — Imprisonment for a period of five years to life and fines up to $500,000; or
  • Third or Subsequent Conviction — Imprisonment for a period of 10 years to life and fines up to $500,000.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you need legal assistance with Virginia charges for a drug crime, it can be immensely valuable to contact a veteran criminal defense lawyer. The Leesburg drug crimes lawyers at Simms Showers LLP understand how to mount an effective defense against charges for drug crimes and many other offenses. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

https://www.simmsshowerslaw.com/virginia-ends-drivers-license-suspension-for-drug-crimes/

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