Drug crimes can be felonies or misdemeanors with a wide range of penalties
According to Virginia law, there are three types of drug crimes: possession, sale or distribution, and manufacturing.
- Possession is a crime when someone has a controlled substance without a valid prescription
- Sale or distribution is a crime when someone sells, provides, gives away, delivers, or distributes a controlled substance
- Manufacturing is a crime when someone produces, grows, extracts or prepares a controlled substance without legal authorization. It is also a crime to possess chemicals used in manufacturing a controlled substance with the intent of manufacturing a controlled substance
Each of these crimes comes with different penalties depending on how the drug (controlled substance) is classified.
Classification of controlled substances
Drugs are classified into Schedules I – VI and crimes may be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the Schedule of the drug:
- Schedule I (Ecstasy/MDMA, heroin and LSD) drugs have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.
- Schedule II (PCP, cocaine, Ritalin, Adderall, methadone, and methamphetamine) drugs have a high potential for abuse and dependency, but have an accepted medical use
- Schedule III (steroids, hydrocodone, Ketamine) drugs have less abuse potential than Schedule II drugs, a potential for moderate dependency and an accepted medical use
- Schedule IV (Valium, Xanax, tranquilizers and sedatives) drugs have less abuse potential than Schedule III drugs, a limited potential for dependency, and are accepted in medical treatment
- Schedule V (cough medicines with codeine and Lyrica) drugs have a low abuse potential, limited risk for dependency and accepted medical uses
- Schedule VI (toluene and similar inhalants such as amyl nitrite/poppers, butyl nitrite) controlled substances are not drugs in the conventional sense, but are used/abused recreationally
Marijuana and synthetic marijuana are also considered Schedule I, but penalties are separate and not as severe. Alcohol and tobacco are not included in the schedules and definitions of controlled substances and different laws govern alcohol and tobacco use, manufacturing and distribution.
Drug crimes in Virginia have serious penalties
Depending on the drug’s schedule, a violation of Virginia controlled substance laws may be a misdemeanor or a felony that carries a range of penalties, for example:
- Possession of Schedule I or II drugs is a Class 5 felony punishable by imprisonment up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $2,500
- Possession of Schedule III drugs is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by being jailed for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500
- Possession of Schedule IV drugs is a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by being jailed for up to 6 months and/or a fine of up to $1,000
- Possession of a Schedule V drugs is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500
- Possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance is a Class 4 misdemeanor publishable by a fine of up to $250
- Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by being jailed for up to 30 days and/or a fine of up to $500 for a first offense and up to a year in jail and/or a fine of $2,500 for a 2nd or subsequent conviction
- Sales or distribution of a Schedule I or II drug is a felony punishable by imprisonment from 5 to 40 years and a fine of up to $500,000
- Sales or distribution of a Schedule III, IV or V drug is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500
More information about the classifications and penalties for possession, use, manufacture and distribution of controlled substances can be found on the Virginia Attorney General’s website. If you have questions about penalties for possession, use, manufacture, sales or distribution of a controlled substance, you should contact an experienced Virginia drug-offense defense attorney.
Contact the Fairfax NoVa Law Firm today for a free consultation
If you are charged with a drug crime, your best choice is to contact attorney Eric Clingan at The NoVa Law Firm.We can help you find the right legal strategy to minimize or avoid any penalties. Whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, if you are charged with a drug-related offense, contact us to schedule a consultation. Call (703) 352-9347 or contact us online.