In Virginia, the only drug that that would be charged as a possession with intent to distribute misdemeanor is marijuana. The quantity of marijuana determines whether the drug charge would be a misdemeanor or a felony. Other than marijuana, the majority of possession with intent to distribute cases are considered felonies.
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony it can have an effect on your future. This impact warrants a discussion with a Virginia intent to distribute lawyer.
For possession with intent to distribute marijuana, if the quantity is half an ounce or less, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. This is punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. Also, with any drug offense there is a six-month license suspension required by the code. If it is anywhere about half an ounce to five pounds of marijuana, it is a Class 5 felony and that is punishable by one to 10 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.
If it is over five pounds, then it is five to thirty years, and that is all just for marijuana. Another thing that should be clarified when looking at Virginia law is that there is not much of a distinction for penalties as they relate to distribution of those drugs versus possession with intent to distribute. A lot of times, we hear PWID (possession with intent to distribute), but it is the same statute. Possession with intent to distribute is covered under the same statute as distribution.
As it relates to Schedule I and Schedule II controlled drugs in Virginia, such as cocaine, for PWID or distribution of a Schedule I or Schedule II drug the potential penalty is five to forty years in prison and up to a $500,000 fine for a first offense. The second offense is five years to life with a mandatory minimum of three years and a $500,000 fine.
When you have a mandatory minimum term in Virginia, you are serving all of that time. For instance, if you get convicted of a second offense, you have to serve three years of that prison sentence. A third or a subsequent offense is punishable by ten years to life with a 10-year mandatory minimum. Possession of cocaine in Virginia is a felony no matter what the amount, unlike in neighboring jurisdictions.
The manufacturing of methamphetamine is a separate offense with similar penalties, but instead of five to forty years for a first offense, it is ten to forty years. When it says ten to forty, it does not necessarily mean a ten-year mandatory minimum; it allows for the judge to suspend a portion of that time. If it says ten-year mandatory minimum for a third offense, then you’re serving a ten-year sentence.
People should know their rights. A common mistake is that people think that they have to talk to the police just because the police asked them a question, and that is not true. It is important for people to understand that they have the right to remain silent at all times and they need to keep in mind that just because the police seemed very persuasive in wanting to talk to them, or they act like the situation the person is in is not a big deal, they do not need to speak with them.
The biggest mistake that people make then they are charged with drug crimes is that they do not remain silent and they end up making their case a lot worse by making statements that can only hurt them. As far as mistakes made during the court process, that would be getting the wrong attorney, or not getting an attorney quickly enough.
It may be extremely important for somebody to contact an attorney immediately after they are arrested because cooperation with law enforcement might be the best and/or the only route for a person to avoid serious criminal liability. If an attorney is there to give you the proper advice and facilitate a cooperation agreement with the Commonwealth, that could be extremely beneficial.
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