Every drug-related offense is different depending on the type of substance involved, the quantity found, and other extenuating circumstances. In Virginia, possession of many common, illegal substances is classified as a misdemeanor, with the exception of Schedule I and II substances, which is a felony offense. There are many ways in which one can violate drug laws in Spotsylvania and the rest of the state, including possession, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute. More serious drug charges can sometimes even be considered federal offenses, especially if the substances were transported across state lines. The penalties for drug-related crimes are steep; therefore if you have been charged with a drug-related offense, you would be wise to contact a Spotsylvania drug attorney who can provide you with further insight as to the charges that have been brought against you.
Variables that govern drug charges include the amount of the drug the suspect possesses, its classification (Virginia segregates them into groups based on their addiction risk and accepted medical use), whether the drug is believed to be for the suspect’s personal use or meant to be distributed to others, and if the defendant is cultivating or manufacturing the substance. Suspects could be in danger of being charged with one or more of the following offenses:
A major component in the determination of the charges is the type of substance involved. The Commonwealth has broken illegal narcotics down into six categories that are ranked according to the perceived risk of the substance and whether or not it has any medical application. Schedule I drugs are considered to have the highest risk of addiction and also no recognized medical purpose, whereas Schedule VI drugs have some medicinal purpose and a low or nonexistent risk of dependency.
Marijuana is usually viewed differently by the Virginia courts than other substances. First-offense marijuana possession of less than one half of an ounce is slated as a misdemeanor offense in the Virginia Code. Those who are convicted face a fine of up to $500 and/or a jail term of up to 30 days. A second offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and the fine can be as high as $2,500. Third and subsequent offenses of those same small amounts are considered Class 6 felony offenses, which are punishable by a $2,500 fine and one to five years in prison, though that can be lowered to 12 months in jail depending on the judge.
People from all walks of life can become addicted to drugs, including painkillers and other prescription drugs. Many times, those same people might attempt to obtain controlled substances by fraud, deceit, or forgery out of desperation. Sometimes, individuals with substance abuse issues even turn to distributing drugs in order to support their habit. Given the harsh penalties that accompany drug charges, people who need medical assistance with their drug dependency end up receiving lengthy prison sentences and fines they cannot afford to pay. For example, distribution of a drug classified in Schedule I or II is at risk for a jail term of anywhere from five to 40 years and a fine of up to $500,000.
Aside from the prison terms and fines associated with a conviction for a drug-related offense, there are other long-term negative impacts on an offender’s life. Having a criminal conviction on your record can prevent you from obtaining certain types of employment or educational opportunities, being approved for financial loans, or even maintaining a security clearance, which is especially important for people with government jobs living in and around military bases or the DC metro area. In addition, nearly all drug-related convictions in the Commonwealth of Virginia will result in a mandatory six-month suspension of driver’s license, or privilege to operate in Virginia for an out of state driver. Though this mandatory penalty can often be mitigated with a restricted license for certain purposes, it is still a significant additional penalty.
There are several defense strategies that an experienced attorney can employ in order to help mitigate the negative impact that these charges would have. In order to avoid the host of consequences that follow a conviction, contact an experienced drug attorney. His extensive work in the criminal defense field makes him uniquely qualified to give you in-depth information regarding your charges and the penalties that go along with them. In order to explore your options for defense and to protect your rights and your future, call his law office today for a free consultation.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law