Drug offenses are serious crimes in Virginia, and enforcement of drug laws is extremely strict. According to a report from the Department of Criminal Justice, the arrest rate for drug-related offenses in Fauquier County in 2009 was 552.7 per 100,000 residents. Being charged with drug-related offenses is a serious matter.
In addition to the stress of the criminal justice process, facing drug-related charges can have an effect on your personal relationships and cause significant difficulties in your life down the road, including potentially making it harder to obtain employment, housing, loans, or educational opportunities.
An experienced Fauquier drug lawyer can assist you by clearly explaining the charges brought against you and the potential penalties of a conviction, as well as advocating for your rights throughout the criminal justice process.
Under Virginia law, there are several drug-related offenses. The most common criminal charges related to drugs that people face include:
Each drug or substance is classified into one of six schedules according to Code Section 54.1-3445 et seq; the schedule involved in the offense can either increase or decrease the severity of sentence. Schedule I drugs are substances that have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, and are also considered the most dangerous drugs with potentially severe dependence. Examples of Schedule I substances include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote.
The drugs included in the other schedules have medically accepted uses, but also a potential for abuse. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, but less of a potential than Schedule I drugs.
Examples include cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, and oxycodone. Schedule III drugs have a moderate to low potential for dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs include ketamine, anabolic steroids, and various types of testosterone. Schedule IV drugs have a lower potential for abuse and dependence than Schedule III drugs.
Some of the Schedule IV substances include Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), and Ambien (zolpidem). Schedule V drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV, and often contain limited quantities of narcotics.
Some types of Schedule V drugs are preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine, pyrovalerone, and ezogabine. Schedule VI drugs include precursors and every drug not included in any other schedule, but which is recognized as requiring a prescription.
Many drug-related offenses carry serious penalties under Virginia law, including the possibility of up to 10 years in prison. Simple possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense with a typical penalty of no more than 30 days of incarceration and/or a maximum fine of $500. Possession of Schedule I and II drugs is a Class Five felony with sentences generally ranging between one and ten years of imprisonment or, in some cases, at the discretion of the jury or court, up to 12 months of incarceration and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.
Possession of Schedule III drugs is a Class One misdemeanor with a typical maximum incarceration of 12 months and/or a fine of not more than $2,500. Possession of Schedule IV drugs is a Class Two misdemeanor. Possession of Schedule V drugs is a Class Three misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $500. Possession of Schedule VI drugs is a Class Five misdemeanor with a typical maximum fine of $250.
Penalties for the sale, distribution, or possession with intent to distribute of marijuana depend on the amount and typically include incarceration of no more than 12 months and/or a fine of no more than $2,500 for less than one half ounce, imprisonment up to ten years and/or a fine of not more than $2,500 for between one half ounce and five pounds, and imprisonment of between five and 30 years for more than five pounds.
The manufacture of marijuana generally carries a penalty of imprisonment for between five and 30 years and/or a fine of no more than $10,000. Repeat convictions and aggravating circumstances can increase these penalties.
The penalties for criminal offenses related to the manufacture, sale, or distribution of illegal substances can be extremely severe and the long-term consequences of a conviction can haunt you for the rest of your life. If you are under investigation or you have been charged with a drug-related offense, you may require the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Karin Riley Porter and her team of defense lawyers have extensive experience protecting the rights of the accused and fighting to minimize the potential negative impact that a conviction would have on someone’s life. For a free consultation and to learn more about your options for defense, call her law office today at (703) 278-2800.
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