Written by attorney James Donald Garrett

Possession with Intent to Distribute Narcotics in Virginia

In Virginia, a complex scheme of statutes governs marijuana, narcotics, and other drug-related criminal charges. Drug crimes under Virginia law are seriously prosecuted and can bring with them very hefty monetary penalties, as well as jail time and other severe consequences. It is important for Virginians to understand the basic laws of one of these popular crimes, Possession with the Intent to Distribute (PWID). While a skilled an experienced professional should always been consulted in an individual case, the basic principles of PWID can be found in the Virginia Code, and on through informative government resources.

Narcotics under Virginia Law

The term "narcotics" generally refers to drugs and other substances that are prohibited by law. In Virginia, the Virginia Drug Control Act specifically classifies these substances into six schedules. Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD; these drugs have no accepted use in medicine, and they also have a very high potential for abuse when they are recreationally used. Schedule II drugs, such as PCP, meth, and cocaine can be used medically, but also are at high-risk for abuse. Schedule III drugs, such as anabolic steroids and codeine, have a lower potential for abuse and have an accepted medicinal use.

Valium, Xanax, and other such sedatives and tranquilizers are classified under Schedule IV. These types of drugs are less likely to be abused, may not lead to dependency, and are accepted in medicine. Schedule V drugs, such as medicines that contain codeine, also have a low likelihood of being abused, are accepted in medicine, and are unlikely to lead to dependency. Finally, Schedule VI drugs include substances that are not generally used as drugs, but can be. These include things like paint or other substances that can be "huffed," and other inhalants.

What is the Crime of PWID Narcotics?

Separate Virginia criminal laws govern the crime of PWID narcotics. While the Virginia Drug Control Act determines what drugs are illegal, Code of Virginia 18.2-248 establishes what kind of conduct is illegal when it comes to narcotics, and the penalties of committing such acts. Under the law, it is illegal for a person to distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance. The term distribute is defined under the Virginia Drug Control Act, and means to deliver in any way other than administering or dispensing (such as a pharmacy or dispensary).

What are the Penalties for a PWID Narcotics Conviction?

The fines and prison sentence associated with PWID Narcotics are severe. For Schedule I or II drugs, a convicted person may face between 5 and 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 on a first offense. A felony conviction will also go on the person’s record. Schedule III, IV, and V violations are misdemeanors and can bring a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500, or both, on a first offense. The penalties and fines are significantly increased on a subsequent violation of PWID narcotics.

What Can I Do if I have been Charged with PWID Narcotics?

If you have been charged with PWID narcotics, it is imperative that you immediately seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney who can explain the charges against you and notify you of your rights. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help defend your case, and can understand the complexities of not only the laws regarding drugs, but the criminal procedural rules and criminal justice system.

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