Virginia Drug Distribution Attorney
In Virginia, drug distribution is a crime much different than that of simple drug possession. It means that you possess a drug not merely for your own use, but with the intention of distributing the drug to others and often with the additional intention of making money by doing so. A drug distribution charge should not be taken lightly as there are serious negative consequences that accompany a conviction, and the penalties can become more severe depending on the type of substance the person is accused of possessing. If you have been accused of drug distribution and you want to learn more about the charge and its associated penalties, a Virginia drug distribution lawyer can provide you with the appropriate legal information. For more information on other drug charges in Virginia, visit this page.
Drug Distribution Offense in Virginia
Virginia law takes a number of various factors into consideration in order to make a differentiation between simple possession and drug distribution charges. In order to prove that an individual had the intention of distributing the drugs, there has to be clear evidence that a person had substances in their possession that are for more than their own personal use. Virginia takes into consideration the following factors, among others, to determine whether the drugs a person possessed were for personal use or for distribution to others:
Quantity of the Substance
Larger amounts of a controlled substance may indicate that an individual’s intention is to distribute the substance and not just use the drug for their own personal use. For example, if an individual is caught with several ounces of marijuana, it may be a gray area between heavy personal use and distribution, but if the individual is caught with several pounds, that would be a weight more commonly associated with drug distribution.
A distributable form of packaging means the drug is in a form that indicates it is for resale. For example, if illegally obtained pharmaceutical drugs are found in someone’s possession in a large quantity and packaged in individual bags, that may be argued by a prosecutor as an indication that they are not for personal use. Even in a small quantity, the drug may be in distributable form if packaged in baggies or vials rather than in the plastic, properly-labeled bottles that pharmacies normally use to hold prescription drugs.
Other Incriminating Evidence
Items associated with resale or distribution include scales for weighing quantities and packaging materials like plastic bags, tape, twist ties, vials, etc. Other items not directly related to the drug but that may be associated with possession with drug distribution charges include firearms, large amounts of cash in certain denominations, scales, mixing and cutting supplies, and growing paraphernalia used in the marijuana trade. While not directly associated with the drug, these items are connected to drug possession with the intent to distribute and typically signal a different purpose than personal items such as a small number of needles, a pipe, rolling papers – items that typically indicate of individual use.
Marijuana Distribution Charges in Virginia
Possessing any amount over one-half ounce of marijuana could result in conviction of drug distribution. Simple possession is a misdemeanor in Virginia with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail, a six-month driver’s license suspension, and up to a $500 fine. A second or subsequent conviction of simple possession is a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries a penalty of a six-month suspension of your driver’s license, up to 12 months in jail, and up to $2,500 in fines. Possession with intent to distribute of one-half ounce of pot or less is still a Class 1 misdemeanor with the aforementioned associated penalties. Conviction for possessing more than one-half ounce can result in a Class 5 felony and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, or up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. A conviction for drug distribution also carries a statutory six-month driver’s license suspension.
The Commonwealth of Virginia uses several different types of evidence to prosecute drug distribution marijuana cases, including eyewitness accounts of transactions or sales, undercover officers, confidential informants, and circumstantial evidence tied to the accused at the time of the arrest or alleged time of offense. Circumstantial evidence may include any of the above-mentioned factors commonly associated with drug distribution charges. For example, if individually packaged marijuana baggies were found after a traffic stop in which an individual was seen in a well-known drug trafficking area and with a large amount of cash in small denominations, that may be argued as strong circumstantial evidence for drug distribution charges.
If you are accused of drug distribution, a competent, knowledgeable Virginia drug distribution lawyer can help protect your rights and will work to avoid a conviction. Thomas Soldan is an experienced attorney with extensive knowledge of the Virginia court system. Call his law office today for a free case evaluation and to learn more about your options for defense.