Understanding Virginia’s penalties for drug possession

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Being arrested for having drugs on you can be scary. You may have many questions about the potential penalties that come with a drug possession conviction, especially if this is your first experience with the criminal system.

Drug possession penalties largely depend on the type of drug you are found with and how much of it you had on you.

Virginia drug schedules

The Virginia Drug Control Act classifies drugs according to schedules between 1 and 6. Schedule 1 drugs, which are generally the most serious, have no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential, while Schedule 6 drugs are potentially dangerous substances used recreationally.

No matter the schedule of the drug, a drug possession charge should be taken seriously. While a drug possession conviction for a Schedule 5 or Schedule 6 drug could result in only a fine, a conviction for a Schedule 4 drug comes with a possible 6-month jail sentence.

The penalties get more serious from there. A drug possession charge for a Schedule 1 drug is a felony and you could receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Additional factors

There are other factors considered when determining a penalty, including any past criminal history, how much of the drug you had on you and if you sold or distributed it to anyone else.

In addition to the legal penalties, a drug conviction on your record could deprive you of many opportunities. You could lose your job and have difficulty securing future employment or be ineligible for certain programs or educational opportunities.

Many people underestimate the impact a drug charge has on their personal life, as well. Your friends or family might view you differently or shut you out of their lives altogether, associating you with unfair and inaccurate stereotypes of drug users.

Know your rights under the law

These are all reasons why it is important to aggressively fight a drug possession charge. Explaining your situation to a trusted professional can help you learn about what defenses might be available.