The most common type of drug charge handled in Virginia is possession with intent to distribute. While many served with this charge do have the intent to distribute, it is not always sellers being charged with intent to distribute. It is also often individuals who buy large supplies for personal use.
What Determines Whether A Drug Charge Is Going To Be Charged As A Misdemeanor Or A Felony In Virginia?
In Virginia, the schedule classification of a substance determines the classification of a drug charge as a misdemeanor or felony. Schedule I and II-related charges are classified as felonies. This includes cocaine, heroin, opioid, oxycontin, hydrocodone, and more. The higher schedule drugs, such as Schedule III or IV, are classified as misdemeanors.
What Are Potential Sentencing Penalties For Misdemeanor And Felony Drug Convictions In Virginia?
If the charge is a Class I misdemeanors, the potential sentence would be 0 to 12 months of jail time. For felonies, it depends on the classification of the felony the person has been convicted of. If a person accused is convicted of possession of Schedule I or II drugs, the possible sentence is one to 10 years in prison. If convicted of possession with intent to distribute Schedule I or II drugs, the possible sentence is five to 40 years in prison.
The Virginia Sentencing Guidelines are guidelines which provide to judges the amount of active incarceration time and suspension time they should provide based on a conviction. The law has changed so that now an accused can request a jury trial to hear their criminal case, and if convicted, the judge can sentence using the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines.
Is There A Drug Court Available In Virginia And If So, Is This Right For Every Offender?
There is a drug court available in Virginia. It can be a good fit, but also may not be the best option. This depends on whether an individual is serious about making behavioral changes. The drug court program is very intensive with a high failure rate. However, if one manages to complete drug court, a charge may be dismissed or reduced. For some people accused, the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor may be worth attending and completing a drug court program.
What Are Potential Defenses To Drug Charges In Virginia?
One common defense to drug charges in Virginia is that the substance in question is not illegal as outlined by the law. However, there is still a charge for possession of imitation drugs.
Another common defense is that the substance in question does not belong to the person charged. However, a constructive possession charge holds more than one person accountable. This means that in a situation where no one admits possession, everyone involved can be charged with constructive possession.
Finally, as a defense to a charge for possession with intent to distribute, the most common defense is that it is simple possession for personal use by the person being charged. Simple possession without the intent to distribute carries much less incarceration time.