Drug laws differ quite a bit from one state to the next, especially when you consider how marijuana is legally sold in some states despite federal prohibition (while possession of the herb remains a felony in others). However, most states still come down hard on those charged with the distribution and sale of illicit drugs. Virginia law groups together as the same offense the manufacture, sale, distribution, and possession of drugs with the intent to distribute together as the same offense, depending on the amount of the substance and any other factors (such as involvement in a criminal enterprise).
The state takes drug charges very seriously; for instance, you may be sentenced to a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence -- and up to life -- for distributing 10 grams or more of methamphetamine. Prior convictions, especially for violent offenses, generally result in much harsher sentences.
Virginia Drug Distribution Laws: The Basics
The severity of drug-related offenses generally corresponds to the amount (in weight) of the substances involved, which are detailed in Virginia's statutes. The following is a plain-English summary of Virginia's drug distribution laws to help you get a handle on the law.
|Virginia Code: Title 18.2, Section 248 (Manufacturing, Selling, Giving, Distributing, or Possessing with Intent to Manufacture, Sell, Give, or Distribute a Controlled Substance).
Charges & Penalties: Schedule I or II Controlled Substances
Schedule I and II substances include heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Charges for the distribution, sale, manufacturing, etc. of these substances are as follows (all felonies):
Any amount (excluding methamphetamine):
- 5 to 40 years in prison, fine of up to $500,000.
- 5 years to life in prison (mandatory 3 yrs), fine of up to $500,000 with 1 prior conviction.
- 10 years to life in prison (mandatory 10 yrs), fine of up to $500,000 with 2 prior convictions.
Methamphetamine specifically (any amount):
- 10 to 20 years in prison, fine of up to $500,000.
- 10 years to life with 1 prior conviction.
- Compensation for any property damage (if property owner is innocent of the crime).
- If individual owned the property, they must pay estimated cleanup expenses to the state's Methamphetamine Cleanup Fund.
Enhanced penalties - Conviction involving the following amounts of certain Schedule I or II drugs is punishable by 5 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $1 million:
- 100 or more grams of substance with detectable amount of heroin.
- 500 or more grams of substance with detectable amount of cocaine.
- 250 or more grams of substance containing cocaine base (or "crack").
- 10 or more grams of methamphetamine, 20 or more grams of substance with detectable amount of meth.
Note: Individuals may not be subject to mandatory minimums if there is no history of violent crime or credible threats of violent crime.
Charges & Penalties: Schedule III or IV Controlled Substances
Schedule III substances include codeine and other members of the codeine family (in addition to opioids). Charges for the distribution, sale, manufacturing, etc. of these substances (excluding anabolic steroids) are as follows:
- Any amount - Class 5 felony; 1 to 10 years in prison or (at court's discretion) up to 12 months in jail and/or fine of up to $2,500.
Schedule IV substances include Valium, Xanax, and other sedatives and tranquilizers. Charges for the distribution, sale, manufacturing, etc. of these substances (excluding anabolic steroids) are as follows:
- Any amount - Class 6 felony; 1 to 5 years in prison or (at court's discretion) up to 12 months in jail and/or fine of up to $2,500.
Note: Individuals who are able to prove they distributed, gave, or possessed with intent to give (without intent to profit) one of these substances, they are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and/or fine of up to $2,500).
Charges & Penalties: Marijuana
Charges for the distribution, sale, cultivation, etc. of cannabis (i.e. marijuana) are as follows (all felonies, with mandatory minimum sentences):
- 1/2 oz. - 5 lbs. - 1 to 10 years in prison, fine of up to $2,500.
- 5 lbs. - 100 kg - 5 to 30 years in prison, fine of up to $1,000.
- More than 100 kg - 20 years to life in prison, fine of up to $100,000.
- To a minor who is 3 yrs. younger - 2 to 50 years in prison, fine of up to $100,000.
- Within 1000 ft. of a school (or school bus stop) - 1 to 5 years in prison, fine of up to $100,000.
- Cultivation (any amt.) - 5 to 30 years in prison, fine of up to $10,000.
- Transporting more than 5 lbs. into Virginia - 5 to 40 years in prison, fine of up to $1 million.
Engaging in a Continuing Criminal Enterprise
Distributing, selling, or manufacturing controlled substances (or possessing substances with the intent to manufacture them) may rise to the level of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, a federal offense that carries a penalty of 20 yrs. to life in prison upon conviction.
To be considered engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, the following must be true:
- You violated any provision related to the distribution, selling, manufacturing, or possession of materials with the intent to manufacture, a controlled substance;
- The violation is part of a continuing series of violations committed with the assistance of 5 or more other people, you were in a position of authority or management, and obtained "substantial income" as a result; and
- The violation, if involving methamphetamine or any other Schedule I or II substance, was done for the benefit of or in association of any criminal street gang.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
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Virginia Drug Distribution Laws: Related Resources
Get Professional Legal Help With Your Virginia Drug Charges
If you've been charged with distributing drugs, you're likely facing a lengthy stay in prison. But everyone has a right to defend themselves in a court of law, preferably with the expertise of a trained legal professional. Don't leave your freedom up to chance; contact a skilled Virginia drug crimes attorney today.