Drug Possession Charges Are Serious in Fairfax, Virginia
Drug Possession in Virginia
In many cases of possession of a controlled substance charge, someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time; they could have been holding on to something for a friend and then suddenly they are facing drug charges. Even for someone with no prior record, drug possession can be a felony charge in Virginia.
The amount and type of substance can make a big difference in the type of charge and penalty a defendant may face.
Drug Possession Laws in Virginia
Under Va Code § 18.2-250, it is illegal for any person to knowingly or intentionally possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription. The penalties and criminal charges for a drug possession charge can depend on a number of factors, including: type of controlled substance (class), amount of controlled substance, location, and prior criminal history.
Drug Classification in Virginia
In Virginia, drugs are classified as Schedule I to Schedule VI. In general, the schedule of drugs is associated with the potential for abuse and whether there is accepted medical use treatment in the U.S. or safety concerns. Here are some examples of drug classification in Virginia:
Schedule I controlled substances in Virginia can include types of heroin, psilocybin, LSD, and ecstasy.
Schedule II controlled substances in Virginia may include cocaine, opium, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and codeine.
Schedule III controlled substances in Virginia often include anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV controlled substances in Virginia may include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), or diazepam (Valium).
Schedule V controlled substances in Virginia may include medications or drugs with lower amounts of codeine, like prescription cough medicines.
Schedule VI controlled substances in Virginia may include other stimulant or depressant drugs that do not fall into Schedule 1-5 categories.
Possession of Prescription Drugs Without a Prescription
Lots of people end up getting charged with drug possession for having a prescription medication given to them by a friend or family member. Possession of a prescription drug without a valid prescription can lead to charges similar to possession of illegal narcotics. Even if the person who gave the drug to the defendant had a valid prescription, possession without a prescription can result in drug charges.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
Even in cases where a person is not in possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia associated with controlled substances can lead to criminal charges. However, this is a separate statute under Virginia law and is generally charged as a misdemeanor. Controlled paraphernalia could be any instrument or implement used or adapted for the administration of a controlled substance, including hypodermic needles, gel caps, small plastic envelopes, or measuring devices.
Penalties for Drug Possession in Virginia
The penalties for drug possession depend on the specific substance, amount, criminal record, and other factors. Drug possession can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in Virginia. In most cases, a first-time possession charge is eligible for a first-time offender drug program.
Possession of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug is a Class 5 felony. The penalties for a Class 5 felony possession conviction can include up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
Possession of a Schedule III drug is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor possession conviction can include up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Possession of a Schedule IV drug is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class 2 misdemeanor possession conviction can include up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Possession of a Schedule V drug is a Class 3 misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class 3 misdemeanor possession conviction can include a fine of up to $500.
Possession of a Schedule VI drug is a Class 4 misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class 4 misdemeanor possession conviction can include a fine of up to $250.
First-Time Offender Program in Virginia
A first-time simple possession charge does not have to result in serious criminal penalties. If eligible, participants who have been charged with possession can participate in a drug diversion program. Participants who meet the requirements can have charges deferred until successful completion for the program. Conditions can include: suspended or restricted license, getting substance abuse treatment, community service, submitting to random drug and alcohol tests, substance abuse education, paying program costs, and other conditions imposed by the court.
Typically, participants will have to agree to stipulate sufficient evidence for guilt. Violating the conditions can mean the court will find the defendant guilty and proceed to sentencing. However, successful completion of the program can mean your case will be dismissed with certain requirements.
Some defenses in cases of drug possession can include unlawful search and seizure, police misconduct, challenging the identification of the drug, challenging the amount of the substance, lawful possession with a prescription, or another person was in possession. Additionally, you may have a solid defense if the prosecutor cannot prove that the possession was knowing and intentional.
How We Can Help
The Pickett Law Group, PLLC is an experienced law firm with two generations of former prosecutors, who have fought from both sides of the courtroom on all types of legal issues, including Drug Possession. Our attorneys can help ensure that you have the best defense possible in your case. Contact us today and we will begin fighting on your behalf.