What are the potential penalties for drug possession charges?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

There are many reasons why people use drugs in Virginia, but if they do not have a valid prescription for the drug, they could be charged with drug possession crimes. There are many different types of drugs that people use though and the severity of the potential consequences for a drug possession conviction depends on the type of drug people possess.

Drugs are put into one of six categories called schedules. Schedule I and II contain the drugs that have the highest potential for abuse and dependence. The only difference between Schedule I and II is that drugs in Schedule II have a medical purpose, while drugs in Schedule I do not. The risk for dependence is the main factor that separates the remaining Schedules which are Schedules III – VI, with VI being the least harmful drugs.

Potential consequences for drug possession convictions

The severity of the potential penalties depends on which Schedule the drug is in. Here are the potential penalties for each Schedule:

  • Schedules I and II – Class 5 felonies. People could be sentenced to jail or prison from one to 10 years and be fined up to $2,500
  • Schedule III – Class 1 Misdemeanor. Jail time up to one year and/or a fine up to $2,500
  • Schedule IV – Class 2 Misdemeanor. Jail up to six months and/or a fine up to $1,000
  • Schedule V – Class 3 Misdemeanor – A fine up to $500, but no jail time
  • Schedule VI – Class 4 Misdemeanor – Only a fine up to $250

As people can see, being charged with drug possession crimes in Virginia, especially those in Schedules I and II, could result in serious consequences. People need to be convicted before they can receive these consequences though. Simply being charged does not mean that people are guilty and will be convicted. There may be potential defenses available and everyone is innocent until proven guilty.