McLean, Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney | Arrested for Drug Possession with Intent to Distribute in Virginia?

Portner & Shure Law Firm Serving Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C.

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What is a controlled substance?

A controlled substance is defined inCode of Virginia§ 54.1-3401, as a drug or substance listed in Schedules I through VI of the Virginia Drug Control Act. Alcohol and tobacco are excluded from this definition of a controlled substance; laws governing alcohol and tobacco are included elsewhere in the Code.

The Virginia Drug Control Act places controlled substances into five categories called "schedules." (Code of Virginia§§54.1-3446 through 54.1-3456) Virginia's Drug Control Act reflects the drug classifications in the federal Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.

How are drugs classified in the schedules in Virginia's Drug Control Act?

Controlled substances are classified into Schedules I through VI.

Schedule Idrugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, and include heroin and LSD.

Schedule IIdrugs have a high potential for abuse and severe dependence, but have a currently accepted medical use.Schedule IIdrugs include PCP, cocaine, methadone, and methamphetamine.

Schedule IIIdrugs have less potential for abuse thanSchedule IIdrugs, a potential for moderate dependency and an accepted medical use. Anabolic steroids and codeine fall into this category.

Schedule IVdrugs have less potential for abuse thanSchedule IIIdrugs, a limited potential for dependency, and are accepted in medical treatment. Schedule IVdrugs include Valium, Xanax and other tranquilizers and sedatives.

Schedule Vdrugs have a low potential for abuse, limited risk for dependency and accepted medical uses. These include drugs like cough medicines with codeine.

Schedule VIincludes certain substances which are not "drugs" in the conventional sense, but are nonetheless used, or abused, recreationally; these include toluene (found in many types of paint, especially spray paint) and similar inhalants such as amyl nitrite (or "poppers"), butyl nitrite, and nitrous oxide (found in many types of aerosol cans, though it is pharmacologically active, it is considered an inhalant). Many state and local governments enforce age limits on the sale of products containing these substances.

What types of drug crimes are in Virginia law?

The three major types of drug crimes are drug possession, drug distribution, and drug manufacturing.

The crime of drugpossessionoccurs when a person possesses any controlled substance without a valid prescription (Code of Virginia§ 18.2-250).

The crime of drugsale or distributionoccurs when a person sells, provides, gives away, delivers, or distributes a controlled substance.

The crime drugmanufacturingoccurs when a person produces a controlled substance without legal authorization or possesses chemicals used in the manufacture of a controlled substance with intent to manufacture.

Code of Virginia§ 54.1-3401 contains the following definitions:

"Sale" includes barter, exchange, or gift, or offer therefore, and each such transaction made by any person, whether as an individual, proprietor, agent, servant, or employee.

"Distribute" means to deliver other than by administering or dispensing a controlled substance.

"Manufacture" means the production, preparation, propagation, conversion, or processing of any item regulated by this chapter, either directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of natural origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis, and includes any packaging or repackaging of the substance or labeling or relabeling of its container. This term does not include compounding.

What are the penalties for drug crimes?

The penalties depend on the schedule of controlled substance and the type of crime - whether the crime involves possession, sale or distribution, or manufacturing drugs. The table below provides a simple overview of possible penalties.

Violations

Penalties(Code of Virginia§ 18.2-248)

Possession

Possession ofSchedule IorIIcontrolled substance

Class 5felony - imprisonment of one to 10 years, or confinement in jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both.

Possession ofSchedule IIIcontrolled substance

Class 1misdemeanor - confinement in jail for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both.

Possession ofSchedule IVcontrolled substance

Class 2misdemeanor - confinement in jail for up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000, either or both.

Possession ofSchedule Vcontrolled substance

Class 3misdemeanor - fine of up to $500.

Possession ofSchedule VIcontrolled substance

Class 4misdemeanor - fine of up to $250.

Possession of marijuana, upon conviction, exposes the violator to a misdemeanor conviction for which the punishment is:

Misdemeanor confinement in jail for up to 30 days and a fine of up to $500, either or both.

Upon a second conviction, punishment is confinement in jail for up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both.

Intent to sell or distribute(Code of Virginia§ 18.2-248)

Possession ofSchedule IorIIcontrolled substance with the intent to sell or otherwise distribute

Felony conviction - imprisonment from five to 40 years and a fine of up to $500,000.

Upon a second conviction, the violator must be imprisoned for not less than five years but may suffer life imprisonment, and fined up to $500,000.

Possession of Schedules III,IV, orV controlled substance with the intent to sell or otherwise distribute

Misdemeanor conviction - confinement in jail for up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both.

Possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana with intent to sell or otherwise distribute

Misdemeanor conviction - confinement in jail for up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both.

Possession of more than one-half ounce to five pounds of marijuana with intent to sell or otherwise distribute

Felony conviction - imprisonment from one to 10 years, or at the discretion of the jury or the court trying the case without a jury, confinement in jail for up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500, either or both.

How Can the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Portner & Shure Help Me?

If you are convicted of possession with intent to distribute, you may face very harsh penalties. Even first-time drug offenders may face jail time, large fines, and long probation periods. Certain factors such as the kind of drug found in your possession, the quantity of drugs, and your prior criminal record can make potential consequences even more serious. If you were arrested in a school zone, the penalties will be even more severe.

You could be charged with possession with intent to distribute based on the circumstances and other evidence confiscated at the arrest:

  • The amount of drugs seized
  • The value of the drugs seized
  • The presence of large quantities of cash
  • Packaging of the drugs
  • Baggies
  • Scales

The presence of any of the above-mentioned circumstantial evidence can lead the arresting police officer to believe there was intent to distribute, regardless of your actual intent. If you are charged with any of the crimes listed above, you should consult with a Virginia drug distribution lawyer to learn about your options and how a lawyer can help you build a strong defense.

The Virginia criminal defense attorneys at Portner & Shure can help you fight the charges against you in court. Working with an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney could help to lessen the overall impact of the charges against you. The stakes are too high to take your chances without an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If convicted, these charges can seriously impact your ability to:

  • Secure employment, maintain your current position, or advance in your career
  • Get approval for a home or car loan
  • Maintain eligibility for an academic scholarship
  • Obtain acceptance into a university
  • Rent a home, apartment, or condo

The lawyers at Portner & Shure will provide you with aggressive representation for your drug trafficking case in order to minimize the impact of these charges on the rest of your life.