If you illegally possess a drug in Virginia, you may face serious penalties. The potential penalties depend on the type of drug you have on you, whether you have been convicted of drug possession before, and whether you have a valid defense to the charges against you.
Virginia Drug Possession Laws and Penalties
According to Section 18.2-250 of the Virginia Code, it is illegal for you to “… knowingly or intentionally 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 .…” This statute further defines drug possession in Virginia in the following ways. It is illegal to possess:
- Schedule I drugs. These drugs have no approved medical use in the United States and are among the most addictive and harmful types of drugs. Examples of schedule I drugs include LSD and heroin. Possession of a schedule I drug is a class 5 felony. Class 5 felonies carry potential sentences of up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
- Schedule II drugs. Schedule II drugs, like schedule I drugs, are highly addictive. However, they may be prescribed by a doctor in some circumstances. Examples of schedule II drugs include morphine, oxycodone, and other medications. The potential penalties for possession of schedule II medications are the same as the penalties for a schedule I drug possession. The crime is a class 5 felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.
- Schedule III drugs. Schedule III drugs may still be addictive, but they are not considered as highly addictive as schedule II drugs. Schedule III drugs are available by prescription only and include things like Vicodin and steroids. If you are found to be in possession of a schedule III medication without a prescription, you may be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, and you may face penalties that include up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine
- Schedule IV drugs. Schedule IV drugs are only available by prescription, but they have a lower likelihood of being addictive. Some examples of schedule IV drugs include Xanax and valium. Possession of a schedule IV drug is a class 2 misdemeanor which means your potential penalty includes up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Schedule V drugs. Schedule V drugs have small amounts of narcotics and are not often abused. However, they are still regulated by the state, and it is a crime to be in possession of these drugs without a prescription. Cold medications with codeine are examples of schedule V drugs. Possession of a schedule V drug is a class 3 misdemeanor that could result in a $500 fine.
- Schedule VI drugs. These substances are not necessarily drugs, but they are things that can be abused. It includes substances in aerosol cans that can be used as inhalants. Possession of substances classified as schedule VI is a class 4 misdemeanor that could result in a fine of up to $250.
- Marijuana. Marijuana has its own classification in Virginia law. The first time you are convicted of marijuana possession you face up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Each subsequent offense could mean up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Possession does not mean that the drug belongs to you. Instead, it means that the drug is within your control. This means that you need to know the drug is on your person, in your home, in your car, or in your belongings, and that it is a drug
Possible Defenses to Drug Possession Charges
The prosecution must convince the court that you had possession of the drug. The potential defense(s) that may apply to your case depend on the unique circumstances of your case. The defenses could include:
- Having a valid prescription for the medication
- Not knowing the drug was on your person, in your belongings, in your car, or in your home
- Not knowing the substance was a drug
- An error made by the police lab
- An illegal search resulting in the police officer finding the drug in your possession
You have a lot at stake. A criminal conviction may not only result in prison time and a fine, but it could also interfere with your job, your security clearance, and your family relationships. You deserve to be treated fairly and not to face a more significant penalty than necessary.
Contact a Richmond Criminal Defense Lawyer
Let Stephen Bloomquest of Quest Law review the case against you and advise you of your legal options. You can count on Stephen to be honest with you and to fight for you. Call or contact us via this website today to learn more about your potential defense in a Virginia drug possession case.