Although the American public’s feelings on drugs and drug-related crimes are in the midst of a seismic shift towards the need for decriminalization, the legal system has yet to catch up. Therefore drug crimes are still charged and treated as serious criminal offenses, and you will need an accomplished criminal defense lawyer to see your case resolved favorably.
Even though public awareness is at an all-time high, your friends and family and even coworkers will treat you differently when they discover you have been charged with a drug-related crime. Our goal is to ensure the truth comes to light, and that you receive a fair trial and fair sentence for any crime for which you have been charged. A Fairfax criminal defense lawyer is fluent in the complicated language that is law and will help you make sense of the often convoluted legal jargon that you will hear from law enforcement, the prosecution, and the judge.
What Are Drug Crimes And Penalties?
Drug crimes in Virginia are still bound by strict laws with harsh penalties. They include:
- Transportation. The transportation with the intent to sell or distribute a drug (at least an ounce of cocaine, five ounces of marijuana, or an ounce of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance) is guilty of a felony, the punishment for which is 5 to 40 years imprisonment, three years of which is mandatory, and up to $1 million in fines. If the defendant has a prior drug-related conviction, then the same sentencing guidelines apply, except with a ten year mandatory minimum sentence.
- Possession. If an individual is knowingly in possession of a controlled substance, then the penalties faced are steep:
- It is a Class 5 felony to possess a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance, the penalty for which is one to 10 years imprisonment and up to $2,500 in fines.
- It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to possess a Schedule III controlled substance, the penalty for which is up to one year imprisonment and up to $2,500 in fines.
- It is a Class 2 misdemeanor to possess a Schedule IV controlled substance, the penalty for which is up to six months imprisonment and up to $1,000 in fines.
- It is a Class 3 misdemeanor to possess a Schedule V controlled substance, the penalty for which is up to $500 in fines.
- It is a Class 4 misdemeanor to possess a Schedule VI controlled substance, the penalty for which is up to $250 in fines.
Marijuana possession in Virginia is treated differently, even though it is a Schedule I controlled substance. Those in possession of marijuana face a penalty of up to 30 days imprisonment and up to $500 in fines. A second conviction will result in a penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment and up to $2,500 in fines.
In addition to the aforementioned penalties, an individual who possessed a controlled substance will likely be subject to probation, substance abuse assessment, education, and treatment, drug testing, and 24 to 100 hours of community service.
- Distribution. The distribution of a Schedule I or Schedule II substance to a minor is punishable by a mandatory minimum five-year imprisonment. An individual who is over the age of 18 who distributes a controlled substance to a minor at least three years younger can be convicted of a felony, the punishment for which is 10 to 50 years imprisonment and up to $100,000 in fines.
- Sale. The sale of a controlled substance near a school, public property, school bus, school bus stop, public library, or any publicly-held property can be convicted of a felony, the punishment for which is one to five years imprisonment and up to $100,000 in fines.
- Conspiracy. Those who conspire to commit any of the aforementioned drug crimes can be convicted and penalized for the crime they conspired to commit.
- Attempt. Those who conspire to commit a drug-related felony are subject to one to 10 years imprisonment, unless the penalty for the drug-related felony is less, in which case it is up to the court’s discretion which penalty it would like to impose.
Common Defenses Against Drug Crimes
There are a number of legal strategies that may be used to defend against drug charges, including:
- Unlawful Search and Seizure. This defense may be used when law enforcement illegally searches the property of the defendant in order to find evidence of a crime. In order to legally search a defendant’s property without permission, law enforcement needs probable cause, or evidence that a crime has been committed.
- Entrapment. If you were compelled to commit a crime by a member of law enforcement that you would not have committed on your own, then there is an entrapment defense. It happens more often than you think.
- Possession. If the drugs did not belong to you, then you were not guilty of a crime. All the defense needs to do is provide reasonable doubt that the drugs were not yours, while pressuring the prosecution to prove they were.
There are a number of other strategically tenable alternatives, but they depend on the details of your individual case. Your criminal defense attorney will help sort them out, which is something you cannot do on your own.
Call A Fairfax Drug Crimes Attorney Now!
Our Fairfax, VA Law Firm is ready to defend you at a moment’s notice, with years of experience and a proven record for helping clients achieve the best possible outcome for each individual case. Contact us to schedule a free consultation, during which we’ll discuss the charges against you, and how to best see them resolved. Your rights as an American citizen residing in the great state of Virginia are important to us, and we will protect them rigorously.