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Virginia Drug Manufacture, Sale, Distribution Laws

Below is a brief overview of the Virginia laws regarding the sale, manufacture, and distribution of controlled substances. This is not a substitute for a Virginia drug lawyer. If you have been charged, learn how a lawyer can help.

Manufacture, Sale, Possession with Intent to Distribute (Section 18.2-248)

If an individual is guilty of the manufacture, sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute a Schedule III controlled substance except anabolic steroids, the individual is guilty of a Class 5 felony. This statute is particularly long, and has a number of sections that deal with different amounts of different types of controlled substances. In general, the entire section is based on the following: it is illegal for an individual to be manufacturing, distributing, selling, giving, or possessing with the intent to distribute a controlled substance. Section 18.2-248(A). The following subsections are largely organized from the least serious to the most serious violations of this section.

Continuing Criminal Enterprises (Section 18.2-248(I))

A person is deemed to be involved in a continuing criminal enterprise if:

  • The individual commits any felony offense in this section, AND EITHER:
    • The offense is a part of a continuing series of violations of Section 18.2-248 conducted by the individual and at least five other persons, where the individual is the organizer or in a supervisory position or position of management with regard to the other persons involved, and the individual receives a sizable income or resources because of such a position OR,
    • The offense involved methamphetamine or a Schedule I or II controlled substance in association with, at the direction of, or for the benefit of a criminal street gang (see Section 18.2-46.1).

Schedule I or II Controlled Substances; generally (Section 18.2-248(C))

If an individual is guilty of the (1) manufacture, sale, giving, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute of (2) a Schedule I or II substance that is not methamphetamine, then the individual faces a felony conviction with penalties of five to 40 years in prison and a fine up to $500,000. Section 18.2-248(C).

If an individual (1) has a prior conviction of this offense and (2) the individual is guilty of this crime again (3) regarding Schedule I or II controlled substances that is not methamphetamine, then the individual faces a felony conviction with penalties of five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Section 18.2-248(C). In addition, the individual faces the enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum three years in prison. Section 18.2-248(C).

If an individual (1) has two or more prior convictions of this offense and (2) the individual is guilty of this crime (3) involving a Schedule I or II controlled substance that is not methamphetamine, then the individual faces a felony conviction with penalties of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $500,000– with the additional enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison. Section 18.2-248(C).

If an individual (1) is guilty of manufacture, sale, giving, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute (2) one of the following Schedule I or II controlled substances, then the individual faces a felony conviction punishable by five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $1 million– with the enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum five years in prison. Section 18.2-248(C). The following substances are:

  • Substance with a detectable amount of heroin: 100 or more grams,
  • Substance with a detectable amount of cocaine, coca leaves, and/or ecgonine: 500 grams or more,
  • Substance that contains a cocaine base (e.g., “Crack”): 250 grams or more,
  • Methamphetamine: 10 grams or more,
  • Substance with a detectable amount of methamphetamine: 20 grams or more.

It is possible for an individual to not receive the enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison if:

  • The individual lacks a prior conviction of a violent felony offense as defined and listed in Section 17.2-805 (the list is comprehensive and includes almost any violent felony one would expect);
  • The offense did not result in any person’s death or serious bodily injury to any person;
  • The individual was not a leader, organizer, supervisor, or manager or others in the offense, and was not part of a continuing criminal enterprise (defined in Section 18.248(I) and explained in the second to last part of this section);
  • The individual did not use violence or credible threats of violence, and the individual did not possess a firearm or other deadly weapon while committing the offense (or induce another person participating in the offense to carry a firearm);
  • The individual truthfully provides the Commonwealth with all the information and evidence the individual possesses regarding the offense or offenses that were other parts of a course of conduct or common scheme of which the offense is also a part before the sentencing hearing, with the exception where the individual has no useful or relevant information to provide.

If an individual can prove that the individual only gave, distributed, or possessed with intent to distribute a Schedule I or II controlled substance as an accommodation to another person (so long as the person is not an inmate) with no actual profit nor intent to profit, and the individual also had no intent to get the other person dependent on or addicted to the controlled substance, then the individual is guilty of a Class 5 felony. Section 18.2-248(D).

In such a case, the individual will face a felony conviction with one to 10 years in prison, or, in the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and / or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(e).

If the individual is convicted of violating this section under circumstances where the individual has a prescription filled by a pharmacist before the pharmacist received the prescription in writing, yet the pharmacist indeed receives the prescription without one week of fulfilling the prescription, or the an authorized individual requests for the pharmacist to fill out the prescription for the individual before it is received in writing, and it is received in writing within one week, then the violation drops to a Class 4 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-248(E). In such a case, the individual only faces penalties of a fine of up to $250. Section 18.2-11(d).

Methamphetamine Specifically

An individual must compensate any innocent property owner whose property it damaged, destroyed, or rendered unusable because of methamphetamine production. If an individual is (1) guilty of the manufacture, sale, giving, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute (2) of methamphetamine or under 200 grams of a substance with a detectable amount of methamphetamine, then the individual faces a felony conviction with penalties of 10 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Section 18.2-248(C1).

Furthermore, the individual must compensate any innocent property owner whose property it damaged, destroyed, or rendered unusable because of methamphetamine production.

If the individual owned the property that was damaged, destroyed, or rendered unusable, then the individual must pay the state government’s Methamphetamine Cleanup Fund (see Section 18.2-248.04) actual or estimated expenses for cleanup, repair, or removal of the property, or if a reasonable estimate is not possible, a default sum of $10,000. Section 18.2-248(C1).

If an individual (1) has already been convicted of violating this section regarding methamphetamine and (2) is guilty of this crime again (3) involving methamphetamine, then the individual faces 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Section 18.2-248(C1). The requirement for compensating property owners or paying the Methamphetamine Cleanup Fund still applies. Section 18.2-248(C1).

If an individual (1) has two or more prior convictions for violations of this section regarding methamphetamine and (2) is guilty of this crime once again (3) involving methamphetamine, then the individual faces 10 years to life in prison with an enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum three years in prison. Section 18.2-248(C1).

Schedule III and IV Controlled Substances (Section 18.2-248(E1)-(E3))

If an individual is guilty of the manufacture, sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute a Schedule III controlled substance except anabolic steroids, the individual is guilty of a Class 5 felony. Section 18.2-248(E1). In such a case, the individual faces one to 10 years in prison, OR, at the discretion of the court or a jury trying the case, up to 12 months in jail and / or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(e).

If an individual is guilty of this crime regarding a Schedule IV controlled substance, then the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony– with conviction bringing a sentence of one to five years in prison, OR, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, up to 12 months in jail and / or a fine of up to $2,500. Sections 18.2-248(E2); 18.2-10(f).

If an individual can prove that the individual only distributed, gave, or possessed with intent to give or distribute a Schedule III or IV controlled substance as an accommodation to another person (so long as the person is not an inmate) with no actual profit nor intent to profit, and the individual also had no intent to get the other person dependent on or addicted to the controlled substance, then the individual is only guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-248(E3). In such a case, the individual faces up to 12 months in jail and / or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

Schedule V and VI Controlled Substances (Section 18.2-248(F))

If an individual is guilty of the manufacture, sale, giving, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute a Schedule V or VI controlled substance, then the individual is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor – punishable by up to 12 months in jail and / or a fine of up to $2,500. Sections 18.2-248(F); 18.2-11(a).

Volume Dealers

If an individual is guilty of the manufacture, sale, giving, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute of one of the following controlled substances, then the individual is guilty of a felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison and a fine of $1 million, with the enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum 20 years in prison. Section 18.2-248(H). The controlled substances which qualify for a violation of this subsection are the following:

  • Substance with a detectable amount of heroin: 1.0 kilograms or more;
  • Substance with a detectable amount of coca leaves, cocaine, or ecgonine: 5.0 kilograms or more;
  • Substance with a cocaine base (e.g. “Crack”): 2.5 kilograms or more;
  • Substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana: 100 kilograms or more;
  • methamphetamine: 100 grams or more, or;
  • Substance with a detectable amount of methamphetamine: 200 grams or more.

Under Section 18.2-248(H)(5), the law states it is possible for an individual to avoid the enhanced penalty of a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison if:

  • The individual lacks a prior conviction of a violent felony offense as defined and listed in Section 17.2-805 (the list is comprehensive and includes almost any violent felony one would expect);
  • The offense did not result in any person’s death or serious bodily injury to any person;
  • The individual was not a leader, organizer, supervisor, or manager or others in the offense, and was not part of a continuing criminal enterprise (defined in Section 18.248(I) and explained in the second to last part of this section);
  • The individual did not use violence, credible threats of violence, and the individual did not possess a firearm or other deadly weapon while committing the offense (or induce another person participating in the offense to carry a firearm);
  • The individual truthfully provides the Commonwealth with all the information and evidence the individual possesses regarding the offense or offenses that were other parts of a course of conduct or common scheme of which the offense is also a part before the sentencing hearing, with the exception where the individual has no useful or relevant information to provide.

Under Section 18.2-248(H1), an individual faces a felony conviction with the penalty of 20 years to life, with a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million if the individual is the primary or one of several primary leaders, administrators, or organizers of a continuing criminal enterprise if, over a 12-month period, (i) the enterprise received a gross income of $100,000 to $250,000 from manufacture, distribution, or importation of heroin, cocaine, ecgonine, methamphetamine, or marijuana OR (ii) the individual was part of the manufacture, sale, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or distribute any of the following:

  • Substance with detectable amount of heroin: 1.0 to 5.0 kilograms;
  • Substance with detectable amount of cocaine, coca leaves, or ecgonine: 5.0 to 10 kilograms;
  • Substance with a cocaine base (e.g., “Crack”): 2.5 to 5.0 kilograms;
  • Substance with a detectable amount of marijuana: 100 to 250 kilograms;
  • Methamphetamine: 100 to 250 grams, or;
  • Substance with detectable amount of methamphetamine: 200 grams to 1.0 kilograms.

Under Section 18.2-248(H2), an individual faces a felony conviction with the penalty of life in prison without possibility of parole and a fine of up to $1 million if the individual is the primary or one of several primary organizers, administrators, or leaders of a continuing criminal enterprise if, over a 12-month period, (i) the enterprise received a gross income of more than $250,000 from manufacture, distribution, or importation of heroin, cocaine, ecgonine, methamphetamine, or marijuana OR (ii) the individual was part of the manufacture, sale, distribution, or possession with intent to manufacture, sell, or distribute any of the following:

  • Substance with detectable amount of heroin: 5.0 kilograms or more,
  • Substance with detectable amount of cocaine, coca leaves, or ecgonine: 10 kilograms or more,
  • Substance with a cocaine base (e.g., “Crack”): 5.0 kilograms or more,
  • Substance with a detectable amount of marijuana: 250 kilograms or more,
  • Methamphetamine: 250 grams or more, or;
  • Substance with detectable amount of methamphetamine: 1.0 kilogram or more.

However, if the court deems that the individual fully cooperated with law enforcement authorities, it is possible for the court to lower the mandatory minimum from life in prison to 40 years. Section 18.2-248(H2).

Lastly, if an individual possess 2 or more ingredients for manufacturing methamphetamine with intent to make methamphetamine, amphetamines, or methcathinone, the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-248(J). In such a case the individual faces a felony conviction with 1 to 5 years in prison, OR, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, lessened penalties of up to 12 months in jail and / or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

How A Virginia Drug Lawyer Can Help

Although the commonwealth of Virginia doesn’t punish all drug crimes severely, it does treat the manufacture and sale of controlled substances very seriously. If you have been charged with the manufacture, sale, or distribution of controlled substances, particularly in large amounts, don’t hesitate to schedule a free initial consultation with a Virginia drug attorney.