A drug distribution charge in the state of Virginia is extremely serious, and the penalties are very strict. A person convicted of a drug distribution charge will almost certainly go to prison, and the time spent there could stretch from years to decades. It is very important to fight this kind of charge in any way you can. Legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in Virginia was only recently introduced, but how this will affect current laws or the records of individuals who have already been arrested and convicted for possession or distribution of the drug is up in the air.
For now, it is important a person accused of drug distribution find legal counsel immediately. A strong legal defense is needed to ensure the criminal justice system provides a fair trial, and the individual charged receives a fair sentence if convicted. Without help, it is almost impossible to expect a favorable outcome. This is especially true for an individual who pleads not guilty and winds up in a protracted battle in court which is why it is imperative to contact a criminal defense attorney.
What Is A Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is any illegal drug regulated by state or federal law. Sometimes a person might be prescribed a controlled substance for the treatment of an illness, in which case the person can use the drug as prescribed. If the person decides to sell the controlled substance instead of using it as prescribed, then the person is committing a crime and can be charged and tried in a court of law. You can find a list of a controlled substance by schedule here.
What Does A Drug Distribution Charge Mean?
Sometimes referred to as drug trafficking, a drug distribution charge means an individual is accused of transporting or selling a controlled substance like marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. Distribution can also refer to the import of illegal drugs from another country. When charged with drug distribution, it is likely an individual will become subject to both state and federal laws when applicable.
What Are The Penalties For Drug Distribution?
Transporting Controlled Substances into Virginia. 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 a felony. The punishment is 5 to 40 years of 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.
Distribution Of A Controlled Substance To Minors. The distribution of a controlled substance to a person who is at least three years younger than the distributor can be charged with a felony, which may result in a sentence of 10 to 50 years imprisonment and up to $100,000 in fines. The same sentencing guidelines apply if the distributor conspires to compel the minor to help commit the crime. The distributor is subject to a mandatory minimum of five years imprisonment if found guilty of distributing a Schedule I or Schedule II drug (or an ounce of marijuana) to a minor. If less than one ounce of marijuana was sold to the minor, then there is a mandatory minimum of two years imprisonment.
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.
Common Defenses Against Drug Distribution Charges
Drug distribution can be one of the toughest charges to defend against, in large part because an individual who has been charged was likely found in the possession of a very large amount of illegal drugs. The more drugs there are, the more difficult it becomes to say: “Those aren’t mine.”
- Unlawful Search and Seizure. If the arresting officers did not have probable cause or permission to search the premises where the seized drugs were stored, then it is possible to get the charges against an individual thrown out because due process laws were ignored.
- Entrapment. Sometimes police make mistakes during routine drug busts, and it is possible to argue entrapment. This occurs when the police provide you with an idea or spur you to commit a crime that you may not have committed without the added push.
If the charges against an individual are cut and dry, then an experienced criminal defense lawyer may try to argue that someone is actually guilty of an entirely different crime with less harsh penalties.
A lawyer will also ensure that the prosecution actually has the drugs in their possession if the case goes to trial. When drug distribution charges are lodged against an individual, the drugs change hands repeatedly. Sometimes they are lost.
Call A Fairfax Drug Distribution Lawyer Now!
Our Fairfax, VA Law Firm has a proven record of defending clients from drug distribution charges over many years. We take pride in our unique and nuanced legal strategies to win cases against an overzealous prosecution. Contact our office to receive a free consultation. We want to hear your side of the story, and we will not rest until your rights as an American citizen are properly defended and upheld.