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Drug Possession and Distribution in Virginia

DRUG POSSESSION AND DISTRIBUTION OF DRUGS IN VIRGINIA

Offenses relating to Drug Possession and Drug Distribution are very serious in Virginia. All possession charges involving Schedule One or Schedule Two drugs are felony offenses and carry punishments of up to 10 years in prison.

Felony Virginia criminal charges involving Distribution of Cocaine, Ecstasy, or Heroin begin with sentences of 5 years in prison if you or your loved one is convicted in circuit court.

The attorneys of The Gordon Law Firm have helped hundreds of people accused of drug possession and drug distribution in Virginia. If you have any questions about how our experienced criminal defense attorneys could help you in Fairfax, Leesburg or Manassas, call us for a Free Consultation at 703.218.8416 or toll free at 866.591.6682.

Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-251. Persons charged with first offense may be placed on probation; conditions; substance abuse screening, assessment treatment and education programs or services; drug tests; costs and fees; violations; discharge.

Whenever any person who has not previously been convicted of any offense under this article or under any statute of the United States or of any state relating to narcotic drugs, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drugs, or has not previously had a proceeding against him for violation of such an offense dismissed as provided in this section, pleads guilty to or enters a plea of not guilty to possession of a controlled substance under § 18.2-250 or to possession of marijuana under § 18.2-250.1, the court, upon such plea if the facts found by the court would justify a finding of guilt, without entering a judgment of guilt and with the consent of the accused, may defer further proceedings and place him on probation upon terms and conditions.

As a term or condition, the court shall require the accused to undergo a substance abuse assessment pursuant to § 18.2-251.01 or § 19.2-299.2, as appropriate, and enter treatment and/or education program or services, if available, such as, in the opinion of the court, may be best suited to the needs of the accused based upon consideration of the substance abuse assessment. The program or services may be located in the judicial district in which the charge is brought or in any other judicial district as the court may provide. The services shall be provided by (i) a program licensed by the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, by a similar program which is made available through the Department of Corrections, (ii) a local community-based probation services agency established pursuant to § 9.1-174, or (iii) an ASAP program certified by the Commission on VASAP.

The court shall require the person entering such program under the provisions of this section to pay all or part of the costs of the program, including the costs of the screening, assessment, testing, and treatment, based upon the accused’s ability to pay unless the person is determined by the court to be indigent.

As a condition of probation, the court shall require the accused (i) to successfully complete treatment or education program or services, (ii) to remain drug and alcohol free during the period of probation and submit to such tests during that period as may be necessary and appropriate to determine if the accused is drug and alcohol free, (iii) to make reasonable efforts to secure and maintain employment, and (iv) to comply with a plan of at least 100 hours of community service for a felony and up to 24 hours of community service for a misdemeanor. Such testing shall be conducted by personnel of the supervising probation agency or personnel of any program or agency approved by the supervising probation agency.

The court shall, unless done at arrest, order the accused to report to the original arresting law-enforcement agency to submit to fingerprinting.

Upon violation of a term or condition, the court may enter an adjudication of guilt and proceed as otherwise provided. Upon fulfillment of the terms and conditions, the court shall discharge the person and dismiss the proceedings against him. Discharge and dismissal under this section shall be without adjudication of guilt and is a conviction only for the purposes of applying this section in subsequent proceedings.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, whenever a court places an individual on probation upon terms and conditions pursuant to this section, such action shall be treated as a conviction for purposes of §§ 18.2-259.1, 22.1-315 and 46.2-390.1, and the driver’s license forfeiture provisions of those sections shall be imposed. The provisions of this paragraph shall not be applicable to any offense for which a juvenile has had his license suspended or denied pursuant to § 16.1-278.9 for the same offense.

(Code 1950, § 54-524.101:3; 1972, c. 798; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1976, c. 181; 1979, c. 435; 1983, c. 513; 1991, c. 482; 1992, cc. 58, 833; 1993, c. 410; 1997, c. 380; 1998, cc. 688, 783, 840; 2000, cc. 1020, 1041; 2001, cc. 430, 450, 827; 2007, c. 133.)

Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-250. Possession of controlled substances unlawful.

A. It is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess a controlled substance unless the substance was obtained directly from, or pursuant to, a valid prescription or order of a practitioner while acting in the course of his professional practice, or except as otherwise authorized by the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.).

Upon the prosecution of a person for a violation of this section, ownership or occupancy of premises or vehicle upon or in which a controlled substance was found shall not create a presumption that such person either knowingly or intentionally possessed such controlled substance.

(a) Any person who violates this section with respect to any controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II of the Drug Control Act shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

(b) Any person other than an inmate of a penal institution as defined in § 53.1-1 or in the custody of an employee thereof, who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule III shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(b1) Violation of this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule IV shall be punishable as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

(b2) Violation of this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule V shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(c) Violation of this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule VI shall be punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.

B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to members of state, federal, county, city or town law-enforcement agencies, jail officers, or correctional officers, as defined in § 53.1-1, certified as handlers of dogs trained in the detection of controlled substances when possession of a controlled substance or substances is necessary in the performance of their duties.

(Code 1950, § 54-524.101:2; 1972, c. 798; 1973, c. 64; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1976, c. 614; 1978, cc. 151, 177, 179; 1979, c. 435; 1980, c. 285; 1991, c. 649; 1998, c. 116.)

Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-248. Manufacturing, selling, giving, distributing, or possessing with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance prohibited; penalties.

A. Except as authorized in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.), it shall be unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, give, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance.

B. In determining whether any person intends to manufacture, sell, give or distribute an imitation controlled substance, the court may consider, in addition to all other relevant evidence, whether any distribution or attempted distribution of such pill, capsule, tablet or substance in any other form whatsoever included an exchange of or a demand for money or other property as consideration, and, if so, whether the amount of such consideration was substantially greater than the reasonable value of such pill, capsule, tablet or substance in any other form whatsoever, considering the actual chemical composition of such pill, capsule, tablet or substance in any other form whatsoever and, where applicable, the price at which over-the-counter substances of like chemical composition sell.

C. Except as provided in subsection C1, any person who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II shall upon conviction be imprisoned for not less than five nor more than 40 years and fined not more than $500,000. Upon a second or subsequent conviction of such a violation, any such person may, in the discretion of the court or jury imposing the sentence, be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for any period not less than five years and be fined not more than $500,000.

When a person is convicted of a third or subsequent offense under this subsection and it is alleged in the warrant, indictment or information that he has been before convicted of two or more such offenses or of substantially similar offenses in any other jurisdiction which offenses would be felonies if committed in the Commonwealth and such prior convictions occurred before the date of the offense alleged in the warrant, indictment, or information, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for a period of not less than five years, five years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be served consecutively with any other sentence and he shall be fined not more than $500,000.

Any person who manufactures, sells, gives, distributes or possesses with the intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute the following is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $1 million and imprisonment for five years to life, five years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be served consecutively with any other sentence:

1. 100 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;

2. 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:

a. Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;

b. Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;

c. Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

d. Any compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subdivisions 2a through 2c;

3. 250 grams or more of a mixture or substance described in subdivisions 2a through 2d that contain cocaine base; or

4. 10 grams or more of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or 20 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers.

The mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be imposed for a violation of this subsection shall not be applicable if the court finds that:

a. The person does not have a prior conviction for an offense listed in subsection C of § 17.1-805;

b. The person did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon in connection with the offense or induce another participant in the offense to do so;

c. The offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person;

d. The person was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense, and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise as defined in subsection I; and

e. Not later than the time of the sentencing hearing, the person has truthfully provided to the Commonwealth all information and evidence the person has concerning the offense or offenses that were part of the same course of conduct or of a common scheme or plan, but the fact that the person has no relevant or useful other information to provide or that the Commonwealth already is aware of the information shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement.

C1. Any person who violates this section with respect to the manufacturing of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or less than 200 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned for not less than 10 nor more than 40 years and fined not more than $500,000. Upon a second conviction of such a violation, any such person may, in the discretion of the court or jury imposing the sentence, be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for any period not less than 10 years, and be fined not more than $500,000. When a person is convicted of a third or subsequent offense under this subsection and it is alleged in the warrant, indictment, or information that he has been previously convicted of two or more such offenses or of substantially similar offenses in any other jurisdiction, which offenses would be felonies if committed in the Commonwealth and such prior convictions occurred before the date of the offense alleged in the warrant, indictment, or information, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life or for a period not less than 10 years, three years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment to be served consecutively with any other sentence and he shall be fined not more than $500,000. Upon conviction, in addition to any other punishment, a person found guilty of this offense shall be ordered by the court to make restitution, as the court deems appropriate, to any innocent property owner whose property is damaged, destroyed, or otherwise rendered unusable as a result of such methamphetamine production. This restitution may include the person’s or his estate’s estimated or actual expenses associated with cleanup, removal, or repair of the affected property.

D. If such person proves that he gave, distributed or possessed with intent to give or distribute a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II only as an accommodation to another individual who is not an inmate in a community correctional facility, local correctional facility or state correctional facility as defined in § 53.1-1 or in the custody of an employee thereof, and not with intent to profit thereby from any consideration received or expected nor to induce the recipient or intended recipient of the controlled substance to use or become addicted to or dependent upon such controlled substance, he shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

E. If the violation of the provisions of this article consists of the filling by a pharmacist of the prescription of a person authorized under this article to issue the same, which prescription has not been received in writing by the pharmacist prior to the filling thereof, and such written prescription is in fact received by the pharmacist within one week of the time of filling the same, or if such violation consists of a request by such authorized person for the filling by a pharmacist of a prescription which has not been received in writing by the pharmacist and such prescription is, in fact, written at the time of such request and delivered to the pharmacist within one week thereof, either such offense shall constitute a Class 4 misdemeanor.

E1. Any person who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule III except for an anabolic steroid classified in Schedule III, constituting a violation of § 18.2-248.5, shall be guilty of a Class 5 felony.

E2. Any person who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule IV shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

E3. Any person who proves that he gave, distributed or possessed with the intent to give or distribute a controlled substance classified in Schedule III or IV, except for an anabolic steroid classified in Schedule III, constituting a violation of § 18.2-248.5, only as an accommodation to another individual who is not an inmate in a community correctional facility, local correctional facility or state correctional facility as defined in § 53.1-1 or in the custody of an employee thereof, and not with the intent to profit thereby from any consideration received or expected nor to induce the recipient or intended recipient of the controlled substance to use or become addicted to or dependent upon such controlled substance, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

F. Any person who violates this section with respect to a controlled substance classified in Schedule V or an imitation controlled substance which imitates a controlled substance classified in Schedule V, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

G. Any person who violates this section with respect to an imitation controlled substance which imitates a controlled substance classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. In any prosecution brought under this subsection, it is not a defense to a violation of this subsection that the defendant believed the imitation controlled substance to actually be a controlled substance.

H. Any person who manufactures, sells, gives, distributes or possesses with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute the following:

1. 1.0 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;

2. 5.0 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:

a. Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;

b. Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;

c. Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

d. Any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subdivisions a through c;

3. 2.5 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance described in subdivision 2 which contains cocaine base;

4. 100 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana; or

5. 100 grams or more of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or 200 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers shall be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $1 million and imprisonment for 20 years to life, 20 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum sentence. Such mandatory minimum sentence shall not be applicable if the court finds that (i) the person does not have a prior conviction for an offense listed in subsection C of § 17.1-805; (ii) the person did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon in connection with the offense or induce another participant in the offense to do so; (iii) the offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person; (iv) the person was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense, and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise as defined in subsection I of this section; and (v) not later than the time of the sentencing hearing, the person has truthfully provided to the Commonwealth all information and evidence the person has concerning the offense or offenses that were part of the same course of conduct or of a common scheme or plan, but the fact that the person has no relevant or useful other information to provide or that the Commonwealth already is aware of the information shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement.

H1. Any person who was the principal or one of several principal administrators, organizers or leaders of a continuing criminal enterprise shall be guilty of a felony if (i) the enterprise received at least $100,000 but less than $250,000 in gross receipts during any 12-month period of its existence from the manufacture, importation, or distribution of heroin or cocaine or ecgonine or methamphetamine or the derivatives, salts, isomers, or salts of isomers thereof or marijuana or (ii) the person engaged in the enterprise to manufacture, sell, give, distribute or possess with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute the following during any 12-month period of its existence:

1. At least 1.0 kilograms but less than 5.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;

2. At least 5.0 kilograms but less than 10 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:

a. Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;

b. Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;

c. Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

d. Any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subdivisions a through c;

3. At least 2.5 kilograms but less than 5.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance described in subdivision 2 which contains cocaine base;

4. At least 100 kilograms but less than 250 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana; or

5. At least 100 grams but less than 250 grams of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or at least 200 grams but less than 1.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers.

A conviction under this section shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $1 million and imprisonment for 20 years to life, 20 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum sentence.

H2. Any person who was the principal or one of several principal administrators, organizers or leaders of a continuing criminal enterprise if (i) the enterprise received $250,000 or more in gross receipts during any 12-month period of its existence from the manufacture, importation, or distribution of heroin or cocaine or ecgonine or methamphetamine or the derivatives, salts, isomers, or salts of isomers thereof or marijuana or (ii) the person engaged in the enterprise to manufacture, sell, give, distribute or possess with the intent to manufacture, sell, give or distribute the following during any 12-month period of its existence:

1. At least 5.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;

2. At least 10 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of:

a. Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;

b. Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;

c. Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or

d. Any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in subdivisions a through c;

3. At least 5.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance described in subdivision 2 which contains cocaine base;

4. At least 250 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana; or

5. At least 250 grams of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers or at least 1.0 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers shall be guilty of a felony punishable by a fine of not more than $1 million and imprisonment for life, which shall be served with no suspension in whole or in part. Such punishment shall be made to run consecutively with any other sentence. However, the court may impose a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years if the court finds that the defendant substantially cooperated with law-enforcement authorities.

I. For purposes of this section, a person is engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise if (i) he violates any provision of this section, the punishment for which is a felony and either (ii) such violation is a part of a continuing series of violations of this section which are undertaken by such person in concert with five or more other persons with respect to whom such person occupies a position of organizer, a supervisory position, or any other position of management, and from which such person obtains substantial income or resources or (iii) such violation is committed, with respect to methamphetamine or other controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II, for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang as defined in § 18.2-46.1.

J. Except as authorized in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.), any person who possesses any two or more different substances listed below with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine, methcathinone or amphetamine is guilty of a Class 6 felony: liquefied ammonia gas, ether, hypophosphorus acid solutions, hypophosphite salts, hydrochloric acid, iodine crystals or tincture of iodine, phenylacetone, phenylacetic acid, red phosphorus, methylamine, methyl formamide, lithium metal, sodium metal, sulfuric acid, sodium hydroxide, potassium dichromate, sodium dichromate, potassium permanganate, chromium trioxide, methylbenzene, methamphetamine precursor drugs, trichloroethane, or 2-propanone.

K. The term “methamphetamine precursor drug,” when used in this article, means a drug or product containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine or any of their salts, optical isomers, or salts of optical isomers.

(Code 1950, § 54-524.101:1; 1972, c. 798; 1973, c. 479; 1974, c. 586; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1976, c. 614; 1977, c. 409; 1978, cc. 177, 779; 1979, c. 435; 1982, cc. 276, 462; 1985, c. 569; 1986, c. 453; 1988, c. 355; 1990, c. 82; 1991, c. 13; 1992, cc. 685, 737, 756; 1995, c. 538; 1999, c. 722; 2000, cc. 1020, 1041; 2004, c. 461; 2005, cc. 174, 759, 796, 923, 941; 2006, cc. 697, 759.)

Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-248.01. Transporting controlled substances into the Commonwealth; penalty.

Except as authorized in the Drug Control Act (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) it is unlawful for any person to transport into the Commonwealth by any means with intent to sell or distribute one ounce or more of cocaine, coca leaves or any salt, compound, derivative or preparation thereof as described in Schedule II of the Drug Control Act or one ounce or more of any other Schedule I or II controlled substance or five or more pounds of marijuana. A violation of this section shall constitute a separate and distinct felony. Upon

conviction, the person shall be sentenced to not less than five years nor more than 40 years imprisonment, three years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment, and a fine not to exceed $1,000,000. A second or subsequent conviction hereunder shall be punishable by a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, which shall be served consecutively with any other sentence.

(1992, c. 723; 2000, cc. 1020, 1041; 2004, c. 461.)

Virginia Criminal Code § 18.2-255. Distribution of certain drugs to persons under 18 prohibited; penalty.

A. Except as authorized in the Drug Control Act, Chapter 34 (§ 54.1-3400 et seq.) of Title 54.1, it shall be unlawful for any person who is at least 18 years of age to knowingly or intentionally (i) distribute any drug classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV or marijuana to any person under 18 years of age who is at least three years his junior or (ii) cause any person under 18 years of age to assist in such distribution of any drug classified in Schedule I, II, III or IV or marijuana. Any person violating this provision shall upon conviction be imprisoned in a state correctional facility for a period not less than 10 nor more than 50 years, and fined not more than $100,000. Five years of the sentence imposed for a conviction under this section involving a Schedule I or II controlled substance or one ounce or more of marijuana shall be a mandatory minimum sentence. Two years of the sentence imposed for a conviction under this section involving less than one ounce of marijuana shall be a mandatory minimum sentence.

B. It shall be unlawful for any person who is at least 18 years of age to knowingly or intentionally (i) distribute any imitation controlled substance to a person under 18 years of age who is at least three years his junior or (ii) cause any person under 18 years of age to assist in such distribution of any imitation controlled substance. Any person violating this provision shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.

(Code 1950, § 54-524.103; 1970, c. 650; 1972, c. 798; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1976, c. 614; 1979, c. 435; 1982, c. 462; 1990, cc. 720, 864, 866; 1992, cc. 708, 724; 2000, cc. 1020, 1041; 2004, c. 461.)