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Miscellaneous Virginia Drug Laws and Punishments

Posted by attorney Luke Nichols

Obtaining Drugs by Fraud, Prescription Fraud, and Making a Fake Prescription

Va. Code 18.2-258.1 outlaws most conceivable ways that a person can attempt to get drugs by fraud, forgery, or deceit. Some of the common ways people commit this crime include:

- · Making, using, or attempting to use fake prescriptions

- · Using a fake name or ID to get or fill a prescription

- · Using fake prescription labels (for example, on pill bottles)

- · Stealing prescription drugs or prescriptions from an employer

  • · Lying to a physician about one’s health in order to get a prescription

However, this law does not outlaw simply possessing a fake prescription, even if you know it’s fake. This law also does not ban attempting to fill another person’s prescription as long as a fake ID or false information was not used.

Obtaining drugs by fraud is a felony in Virginia and comes with up to five years in prison and a six-month loss of license.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Possession of drug paraphernalia under Va. Code 54.1-3466 is a misdemeanor criminal charge in Virginia. But it is one of the few drug charges that does not come with a 6-month loss of driving privileges.

The only items that count as drug paraphernalia under Va. Code 54.1-3466 are syringes and items used for injecting drugs. Scales, grinders, bongs, etc. are not paraphernalia under this statute.

However, this statute is often used by defense attorneys as substitute for many other drug crimes. This charge is a popular plea deal because it won’t result in a license suspension. People who need to drive may prefer a conviction for paraphernalia rather than a conviction for any other drug crimes.

Possession of Synthetic Marijuana (Spice or K2)

Synthetic marijuana (also called K2 or Spice), is an industrial insulator that causes a high when smoked. For several years it was not illegal and was openly packaged and sold in stores as synthetic “legal" marijuana.

In 2011, the Virginia legislature outlawed a long list of synthetic compounds used in synthetic marijuana. Prior to the passage of this law, fake weed was sold openly and legally online and in gas stations in Virginia.

Many people are still ignorant of this law and some still sell synthetic marijuana openly without knowing (or caring) that it has been outlawed.

At this writing, there are currently no field test kits for synthetic marijuana. It is difficult for the police and synthetic marijuana users to know whether a particular form of synthetic marijuana contains one of the now illegal substances. Currently, laboratory testing is the only way to know whether a particular form of synthetic marijuana is illegal. These ambiguities have opened the door to several possible defenses.

The penalties for synthetic marijuana are much more severe than the penalties for possession of real marijuana. First-time possession of synthetic marijuana is a Class 1 misdemeanor with penalties of up to 12 months in jail. PWID synthetic marijuana is a felony that comes with up to five years in prison.

Transporting Drugs into Virginia

Transporting more than one ounce of a Schedule I/II drug into Virginia for distribution is a serious crime in Virginia. This felony comes with a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison and a minimum of three. The maximum fine for violating Va. Code 18.2-248.01 is $1,000,000.

Transporting drugs across state lines can also result in federal drug charges and even more serious federal punishments.

Aiding in Illegally Obtaining Prescription Drugs

To be guilty of aiding others in illegally obtaining prescription drugs, you must get paid for your assistance. The payment can be money, favors, or goods, but the government must prove you did it for payment.

This law also requires that you know that the drugs were being obtained illegally. A common example of this is when a pharmacist or doctor sells drugs to people without a prescription or writes a bogus prescription for money.

Maintaining a Fortified Drug House

Violation of this law is much more common than people realize. Anytime an individual substantially alters a building used for making or selling drugs in order to prevent the police from entering, a crime is committed. Installing a large, heavy door that the police can’t kick down may be an example. However, leaning stuff against the door or even nailing boards across the door does not qualify as a violation of this law.

Maintaining a fortified drug house is a felony with a maximum of 10 years in prison. This punishment is in addition to whatever drug charges may be brought.

Luke J. Nichols

Nichols & Green pllc

(703) 383-9222

lnichols@nicholsgreen.com

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