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Possession and Intent to Distribute in VirginiaThose who are charged with possession with intent to distribute (PWID) drugs [Virginia Code Section 18.2-248] face substantial penalties if convicted.  Virginia takes all drug offenses seriously.  But selling, trafficking, and distributing drugs are harshly punished.  The relevant Virginia Code Section contemplates the complete spectrum of “intent to distribute” activity including manufacturing and distribution.  So, anyone who is being investigated or is alleged to have violated these Virginia drug laws is wise to retain a Virginia possession with intent to distribute lawyer as soon as possible.

Virginia Drug Classifications

Illegal Drugs (controlled substances) are separated into five categories in Virginia.  The “schedules” are based on their “redeeming medicinal value” and potential for abuse.  The following are the Virginia schedules, and the common substances associated with them.  The schedules rank in order from most to least severe in terms of potential punishments.

Schedule I – heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, GHB, marijuana (but marijuana has separate penalties)

Schedule II – methamphetamine (crystal meth), morphine, PCP, cocaine, methadone, Ritalin

Schedule III – anabolic steroids, codeine and hydrocodone, ketamine, some barbiturates and depressants

Schedule IV – darvon, valium, rohypnol, xanax, other tranquilizers

Schedule V – codeine-based cough medicines and many other-the-counter medications

 

Drug Distribution Charges and Penalties

Schedule I and II Controlled Substances [Section 18.2-248(C)]

First offense: – Five to 40 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000

Second offense: –Five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, three years of which is a mandatory minimum

Third offense: – 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, ten years of which is a mandatory minimum

Methamphetamine has its own sentence schedule [Section 18.2-248(C1)] as the Legislature has made specific in roads to fight the epidemic of meth manufacturing.

  • First offense:10 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000
  • Second offense: 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $500,000
  • Third offense: 10 years to life in prison with an enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum three years in prison

Those accused may also have to pay thousands more to the Virginia Methamphetamine Cleanup Fund.

Schedule III Controlled Substances [Section 18.2-248(E1)]

Schedule III substances are punished as class 5 felonies, meaning one to ten years in prison or up to 12 months in jail or a fine of up to $2,500.

Schedule IV Controlled Substances [Section 18.2-248(E2)]

Schedule IV substances are punished as class 6 felonies, meaning one to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail or a fine of up to $2,500.

Schedule V/VI Controlled Substances [Section 18.2-248(F)]

All offenses are class 1 misdemeanors which carry a potential sentence of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Marijuana [Section 18.2-248.1]

Penalties for possession with intent to distribute or distribution of marijuana depend on the weight of the drug seized and alleged perpetrator’s prior criminal history.

For amounts under one-half (1/2) ounce, the penalty is a class 1 misdemeanor.

For 1st or 2nd offenses over one-half (1/2) ounce but less than five (5) pounds, the penalty is increased to a class 5 felony.  Class 5 felony offenses carry a potential for one to ten years in prison, or in the alternative, up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

For a 3rd or subsequent felony offense under this section, the penalty is greatly increased and could include up to life in prison and a steep five year mandatory minimum term of incarceration making it even more imperative that you consult a Virginia possession with intent to distribute lawyer as soon as possible.

If the alleged weight if greater than 5 pounds, even for a first offense, the accused faces a serious unclassified felony that could carry five (5) to thirty (30) years in prison [Section 18.2-248.1(a)(3)].

Distribution to minors: Anyone over 18 years old who intentionally sells or gives controlled substances to a minor at least three years younger than the suspect, or enlists a minor to assist the suspect in distributing controlled substances, can be sentenced to 10 to 50 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $100,000.  If the drugs are a schedule I or II controlled substance, or over an ounce of marijuana, they must serve a minimum of five years of that prison sentence.[Section 18.2-255(A)]. If the drugs are less than one ounce of marijuana, the required mandatory minimum is two years.

Distribution of Imitations to Minors:  Distribution of imitation substances to minors is also a Class class 6 felony, with punishment of one to five years in prison or, at the discretion of the court, up to 12 months in jail.  The penalty can also include a fine of up to $2,500 [Section 18.2-255(B)].

Drug Distribution and Criminal Enterprise Charges

Selected suspects can be charged with engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise of distributing any controlled substance if:

  • The offense is a part of a continuing series of any distribution violations that involve at least five other people, where the suspect is alleged to be the organizer supervisor or manager of the other “conspirators to distribute” controlled substances, or receives the largest percentage of the profits from the distribution enterprise; or
  •  The offense involved methamphetamine or a Schedule I or II controlled substance where the suspect fulfills any of the duties (or receives monetary benefits) outlined immediately above [Sections 18.2-248(H)(1) and 18.2-248(H)(2)].

Drug Distribution Penalties

Large-volume dealers of any controlled substance can face from 20 years to life in prison and fines as high as one million dollars [Section 18.2-248(H)].

Transporting controlled substances into Virginia with intent to distribute is punishable by five to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to one million dollars [Section 18.2-248.01].  The act of transporting into the Commonwealth may be punished as a separate and distinct felony from other violations. There are also potential mandatory minimum periods of incarceration for transporting into Virginia.   Additionally, high-volume drug distribution suspects can be charged in federal court [United States Code, Chapter 13, Part D].

Virginia Possession With Intent to Distribute Lawyer

If you face any Commonwealth or federal drug distribution charges, you should contact a Virginia possession with intent to distribute lawyer immediately as you are likely facing serious criminal charges that require experienced, and dedicated representation. A possession with intent to distribute attorney in Virginia will be able to assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome given your unique scenario.

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