Vienna, Virginia Drug Defense Lawyer
We Can Fight Any Serious Drug Charge
Illegal drug use and distribution are common crimes in the United States and Virginia, which is why the law treats drug-related crimes so harshly. For an individual who has been accused of a drug crime like possession or distribution, the penalties can be severe. A conviction for a drug crime can result in incarceration, steep fines, and job loss. Protect yourself from such harsh and arguably unnecessary penalties by working with Portner & Shure, P.A. Our Vienna drug defense attorneys have more than 25 years of legal experience.
Build your case with experienced attorneys. Call us at (703) 291-3263.
Virginia Drug Laws
Drug crimes in Virginia can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The factors that determine the type of charge vary.
A misdemeanor could be escalated to a felony due to:
- Narcotic in question
- Location of arrest
- Amount of narcotic found
- Prior convictions
For example, a drug possession charge could increase to possession with intent to distribute if you are found with a large amount of a narcotic on your person that one would not expect an individual to use on their own.
Drug Possession Charge
The law of the Commonwealth of Virginia defines possession as knowingly or intentionally possessing a controlled dangerous substance unless an individual obtained the substance from a doctor along with a valid prescription. To be convicted of possession, the Commonwealth’s Attorney need only prove that an individual possessed the drug, exercised control over the drug, and had knowledge of the drug. Accordingly, simply being near controlled substances is not sufficient evidence of possession.
The penalties for possession vary depending on the type of substance, which are divided into schedules:
- Possession of a schedule I (e.g., heroin) or II (e.g., cocaine) substance is a class 5 felony. The maximum penalty is a 10-year prison sentence and/or a fine of $2,500.00.
- Possession of a schedule III (e.g., Vicodin) substance is class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a 1-year jail sentence and/or a fine of $1,000.00.
- Possession of a schedule IV substance is class 2 misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a 6-month jail sentence and/or a fine of $1,000.00.
- Possession of a schedule V substance is class 3 misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a fine of $500.00.
- Possession of a schedule VI substance is class 4 misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a fine of $250.00.
Marijuana is charged differently than other substances, though. Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor and carries a potential penalty of 30-days in jail and/or a fine of $500.00.
Distribution Charges in Vienna, Virginia
The law of the Commonwealth of Virginia also prohibits distributing or possessing a controlled substance with the intention to distribute it. To be convicted of distribution or possession with the intent to distribute, the Commonwealth’s Attorney must prove that an individual was distributing the substance or intended to distribute the substance. An individual can be charged with these crimes if they were found possessing a large quantity of drugs, were actively distributing drugs, or had paraphernalia and equipment suggesting an intent to distribute.
Virginia law also lists specific amounts of certain substances that elevate a possession charge to possession with intent to distribute. The penalties for distribution vary depending on the type and amount of substances, and an individual’s criminal history.
How can you be penalized for the distribution of an illegal substance?
- Distribution of a schedule I or II substance carries potential penalties of 5 to 40 years in prison and/or fines up to $500,000.00. Subsequent offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences.
- Distribution of a schedule III substance carries potential penalties of 1 to 10 years in prison.
- Distribution of a schedule IV substance carries a potential penalty of 5 years in prison.
- Distribution of a schedule V or VI substance carries a potential penalty of 1 year in jail a/or a $2,500.00 fine.
Defenses to Drug Charges We Could Use
Drug cases are fact-intensive as the Commonwealth’s Attorney must provide evidence that an individual had knowledge and control of a drug. A review of the evidence could reveal a search and seizure issue that may allow evidence to be excluded due to it be gathered illegally by the police. Proving your innocence is important, but proving that the prosecution did not bring enough evidence to warrant a conviction could be more effective.
Have Criminal Defense Questions? We Have Answers
The prosecution will be eager to get you locked away for a year or more, even if you have only been accused of drug possession. You need to be just as eager to stop them.
Start your defense right now by calling (703) 291-3263 and scheduling a consultation with our Vienna, Virginia drug crime defense attorneys from Portner & Shure, P.A. Our team is standing by to hear your story.
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