CommonwealthCriminal & Traffic Law Group
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What happens the 1st time you are caught with drugs in Virginia?

You shouldn’t use illegal drugs. If you do and you are caught by law enforcement in Virginia, what can you expect?

Illegal drugs are called controlled substances. Laws involving controlled substances do not include alcohol or tobacco. Drugs are classified into six schedules:

  • Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and are not medically necessary, like heroin and LSD
  • Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse but are sometimes used as medicine, like cocaine and methamphetamine
  • Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse and are sometimes used as medicine, like anabolic steroids
  • Schedule IV drugs have less potential for abuse and dependency and are accepted as medicine, like tranquilizers and sedatives
  • Schedule V drugs have a low potential for abuse and have an accepted medical use, like cough medicine with codeine
  • Schedule VI substances are not drugs but are abused recreationally, like inhalants.

Penalties for possession, distribution

You can be charged with possession of a drug or intent to sell or distribute a drug. The penalties escalate with each schedule of drug:

  • Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by jail for up to 30 days and/or a fine of up to $500;
  • Possession of a Schedule VI substance is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $250;
  • Possession of a Schedule V substance is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500;
  • Possession of a Schedule IV substance is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000;
  • Possession of a Schedule III substance is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500;
  • Possession of a Schedule I or II substance is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.

Fines and jail time increase with more convictions.

If you are convicted of possessing drugs with the intent to sell or distribute them, there are also an escalating set of punishments:

  • Possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500;
  • Possession of more than half an ounce up to five pounds of marijuana is a felony punishable by one to 10 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500;
  • Possession of a Schedule III, IV or V substance is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500;
  • Possession of a Schedule I or II substance is a felony punishable by between five to 40 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $500,000.

Synthetic cannabinoids and bath salts are considered Schedule I drugs.

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CommonwealthCriminal & Traffic Law Group

Commonwealth Criminal & Traffic Law Group
202 W Main St
Louisa, VA 23093

Phone: 540-603-0405
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